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By Jon, Wenatchee Library 

Black History Month was first celebrated in 1926 by notable historian Dr. Carter G Woodson. By celebrating the achievements of African Americans since the end of slavery, he hoped to inspire people toward further accomplishments. The second week of February was chosen as the date of celebration due to the coinciding birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Black History as a month-long event was first celebrated by students of Kent University in 1970. After this, Black History Month was celebrated unofficially all over the United States until 1976 when it was finally recognized by President Gerald Ford. Since then every president has designated February as Black History Month.

It is important to remember all the progress we have made, as well as all the work we have yet to do. Below are some important works of nonfiction for those wishing to learn about the black experience in America throughout the last 400 years. 

Also check out our blog Celebrate Black Lives: Fiction for All Ages.


My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass 

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington 

The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward Baptist 

bondage and my freedom
up from slavery
the half has never been told
The “End” of Slavery

Slavery By Another Name by Douglas Blackmon

Worse Than Slavery by David Oshinsky

Stony The Road by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Systemic Oppression

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander 

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele 

Documentaries on Kanopy

The video streaming service Kanopy has put together a special collection of films and documentaries to celebrate Black History Month. Browse the full collection here.

I Am Not Your Negro: James Baldwin and Race in America 

Freedom Riders 

Slavery By Another Name 

Cover photo: March on Washington, 1963. Original black-and-white image by Marion S. Trikosko. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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