The UGL Celebrates Black History Month

“I feel safe in the midst of my enemies, for the truth is all powerful and will prevail.” —Sojourner Truth

In 1976, Former President Gerald Ford made February the official month to celebrate Black history. President Ford urged American citizens to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Here at the UGL, we have compiled some books and movies that celebrate Black Americans and their struggles and accomplishments. For more information on Black History Month, be sure to visit the official government website.

“Staring at Zero” by Jimi Hendrix

“Starting at Zero” by Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix became an international icon after 4 years. He is known as one of the greatest guitars players there ever was. Hendrix was also known as a private person, but in this book, he is able to tell his own story.

“12 Years a Slave”

12 years a Slave. Directed by Steve McQueen

12 years a Slave. Directed by Steve McQueen

Based on true accounts, this film recalls the story of Solomon Northup, a free man of color. He is invited to a violin performance in Washington D.C, where he is kidnapped and sold as a slave. Northup suffers years of violence, abuse, and injustice. He was held captive for nearly 12 years and was soon reunited with his family. For the complete account by Solomon Northup, be sure to check out his book.

“Army of God: Joseph Kony’s War in Central Africa” by David Axe and Tim Hamilton

“Army of God” by David Axe and Tim Hamilton

The Kony2012 campaign was one that got a lot of national attention. This raised awareness, but also controversy. War correspondent, David Axe teamed up with Tim Hamilton to publish a graphic novel that explains who Kony is and the conflict that caught the attention of people all over the country.

“Song of Soloman” by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison, writer and winner of multiple awards brings us “Song of Solomon.” This story is about 4 generations of of black life in the United States. This story begins with Macon “Milkman” Dead III. The reader follows him from birth to adulthood. “Song of Soloman” raises questions on African-American identity and relationships with black and white members of the community.

“Zami, a new spelling of my name” by Audre Lorde

"Zami: A New Spelling of My Name" by Audre Lorde. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

“Zami: A New Spelling of My Name” by Audre Lorde. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

This is the 1982 autobiography of writer and poet, Audre Lorde. She is the daughter of Black West Indian parents. Growing up in Harlem, she is legally blind, but learns to read before starting school. This book details Lorde’s experiences with racism, lesbianism, and political issues.

“Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” by Barack Obama

“Dreams from my Father” written by current President, Barack Obama.

In 2009, Barack Obama made history by becoming the first black President of the United States. Before the presidency, Obama was a civil rights lawyer, former editor of the Harvard Law Review, and a community organizer. This book was published in 1995, right before Barack Obama was preparing for his campaign for the Illinois Senate. This book details his life in Hawaii, Indonesia, and his time at Harvard Law School.

Be sure to also check out our “A-Z Black Biography” on the UGL’s Pinterest Page.

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Black History Month Resources

February, as you may know, is Black History Month. It’s a month-long celebration of African-American history in the United States. The UIUC libraries have lots of resources to help you learn about African-American history during this national observance, as well as the other 11 months of the year.

John Sharper, African-American soldier in the Union Army. Image courtesy of National Archives.

A good place to start for all things Black History Month is the official government site for the holiday. There you can find online exhibits and collections from the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and other national institutions. If you’d like to keep things closer to home, the University Archives also have research guides about African-American history on campus. The archives blog also has a post about Black Power movements at UIUC in the 1960s, and the Student Life and Culture Program has guides to integration and civil rights.

Research on African-American history in the library at large can be accomplished with help from the African American Research Center, an extensive collection of books and other sources about ” the Black experience in the Americas and worldwide outside of Africa.” There are also lots of research guides about Black history topics, including African-American literature and political activism.

The UGL has a Pinterest board featuring biographies of African-Americans from A-Z, if you’re looking for books about inspiring individuals. The National Archives also have a Pinterest board for Black History Month, so if you’re on Pinterest all day anyway, you can stay there and still learn about African-American History.

How have you celebrated Black history? Are there great book, movies, or online resources you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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Celebrate Black History Month

The University of Illinois works hard to foster an atmosphere of diversity and inclusiveness. And all through the month of February, many organizations are hosting events to celebrate and honor Black History month.

vingtage photograph in round frame

Portrait of Maudelle Tanner Brown Bousfield courtesy of University Housing at Illinois

One of the coolest announcements recently was the board of trustee’s decision to name a new dorm after the first black woman graduate, Maudelle Tanner Brown Bousfield. Ms. Bousfield graduated in 1906 and went on to teach high school math. She also became the first African-American principal in Chicago’s public schools in 1928. The new dorm, which will be called Bousfield Hall and open in Fall 2013, will be located on the corner of First and Peabody.

But that’s not all! Check out some of the awesome events coming up this month:

Feb 4     An Evening with Keith Boykin: A Celebration of Black LGBT History Month

Feb 9     Sweet Honey in the Rocks

Feb 23     Black and Latino Male Summit

Feb 27     Culmination Celebration (Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation)

And that doesn’t even begin to cover it. Several groups have on-going presentations and series throughout the month. The Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center has a “Food for the Soul” series featuring some great topics for the month. And Inclusive Illinois has countless events happening, too.

And don’t forget about the Library. This month, there is a display on the first floor of the Music and Performing Arts Library for Black History Month, and on the second floor, they’re exhibiting hip-hop and rap materials, including recordings. Stop by, check it out, and learn something new!

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