While we know Black History Month at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will look a little different this year due to limited in-person services, we’ve developed a robust lineup of virtual programming and resources to engage our city remotely and safely.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of Black History Month, began the observance in 1926 to coincide with the week in February that hosted the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. What began as a celebration of Black accomplishments in history has grown into an annual tradition and prompted widespread discussion on the Black experience. Every year a theme is chosen with over 90 celebrated since 1928 (source: asalh.org).
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History has named the theme for 2021 “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.” This year will examine how the idea of family manifests in different aspects of Black life in the past and present. More information on this year’s theme can found on the ASALH website.
A directory of this year’s Black History Month resources from the Library can be found below. Items will appear linked as they become available online.
Storytelling Event With Donna Washington
Monday February 1 | 12 pm
Join us as CLP opens our virtual doors to international storyteller, Donna Washington! Tune in to her storytelling which excels at bringing African folklore to life, telling stories of overcoming fear, problem-solving and positive racial identity. This broadcast will be available for one week. Learn more…
Virtual Book Club: We’re Better Than This by Elijah Cummings
Monday, February 22 | 2 pm
Zoom (registration required)
Join a lively discussion with fellow book lovers via Zoom to discuss We’re Better Than This by Elijah Cummings. The late Maryland Democratic congressman, recaps his struggle to overcome racism in politics and a contentious relationship with President Trump in this forceful valedictory. Learn more…
We’re Better Than This by Elijah Cummings — A Virtual Conversation
Monday, February 22 | 7 pm
Zoom (registration required)
Join fellow readers, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and Jim Dale for a deeper look into the book We’re Better than This by U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings. Learn more about how the book came to be written and the formative moments in Mr. Cummings’ lifetime that helped to shape his dedication to public service. Dr. Cummings will reconstruct the congressman’s final days and reflect on how he would have reacted to recent events. This discussion will be followed by a Q&A session with questions pulled from the meeting room’s chat function. Copies of this book are always available on Overdrive. Register today…
- ProQuest Black Historical Newspaper Database Tutorial (YouTube): Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh cardholders have access to a wide range of databases, including ProQuest’s Black Historical Newspapers. Learn how to navigate this online resource containing newspapers from 1893-2010 and coverage of historical events for learning more about the history of Black journalism.
Creative Course Club Videos
- Abstract Rock Painting Inspired by Alma Woodsey Thomas | Feb. 1 (YouTube): As the first graduate of Howard University’s Art department, Thomas was best known for her vibrant, geometric-patterned paintings that resembled Byzantine mosaics. Join us for Creative Course Club as we make our own rock paintings inspired by Thomas’s style and share resources for learning more about the artist and her craft.
- Cut Paper Art and Identity Exploration With Kara Walker | Feb. 8 (YouTube): Artist and filmmaker Kara Walker is known for her wall-length cut paper silhouettes and illustrations, including the jacket designer for James Hannaham’s 2015 novel Delicious Foods. Join us for Creative Course Club as we make our own paper crafts inspired by her work and share resources for learning more about the artist and her craft.
- Block Prints Inspired by the Work of Elizabeth Catlett | Feb. 15 (YouTube): Known for her linocut prints, Elizabeth Catlett was inspired by stories about slavery from her grandmother and depicted the 20th century Black experience in her work. Join us for Creative Course Club as we create our own printing making designs and learn more about the artist.
- Bisa Butler Inspired Fabric Collages | Feb. 22 (YouTube): Butler is known for her colorful quilted portraits, often of famous figures in Black history including Frederick Douglass and Josephine Baker. Join us for Creative Course Club as we fabric collages inspired by the artist’s work and explore resources to learn more about this craft.
Teen Time at Home Videos
- Brave. Black. First. | Feb. 3 (YouTube and Instagram): Join us for Teen Time at Home as we celebrate and learn about Black women who changed the world. We’ll challenge ourselves to match quotes to the women who said them, learn a little more about them, and share books you can use to learn even more!
- Through Teenie’s Lens | Feb. 10 (YouTube and Instagram): Join us for Teen Time at Home as we take a look at the Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive online. Teenie was a photographer for The Pittsburgh Courier, one of the most well-known African American newspapers in the country. His photographs have been collected in various books and in an online collection at the Carnegie Museum of Art. We’ll search for our neighborhoods to see older photographs from our community and then talk to someone in our families about it. What do they remember? This program will have a Grab & Go Activity Kit associated with it, which will contain art supplies to help you capture your thoughts and your discussion.
Book reviews, lists and blog posts:
- Kids and Teens African American Booklists: Did you know that sharing stories with diverse characters and pictures of people of diverse races and cultures promotes positive racial identity development in young children? Children of all ages can gain confidence and joy in seeing themselves and those around them represented in books. We’ve gathered stories with African-American characters as leading characters that illustrate African American history, biography and culture.
- Accessing articles from The Pittsburgh Courier
- Black families in writing and publishing
- Local black poets
- Black immigrant stories
- Works of August Wilson
- Urban/street lit recommendations
Also check out our social media channels for special features including:
- Weekly Black history trivia
- Tips for accessing our Black history and genealogy resources
- Photos of Black history library firsts
- Shared content from local BIPOC organizations and events
You can sign up for a free library card here. If you are new to our eResources, check out these tutorial videos on how to get started. If you have any additional questions, you can contact a librarian through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can also call us at 412-622-3114 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.