Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Celebrates Black History Month with Special Programs and Reading Resources
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is celebrating Black History Month with a variety of programs that honor the pioneers whose work has enabled the current generation to grow in various, diverse ways. Look for book displays and programs happening in our branches—not only during this special month-long celebration, but throughout the year.
Black History Month began as a week-long observance in 1926 founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an American historian, author, journalist and founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. It was originally observed the second week of February to coincide with 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.
A directory of library special events, reading resources and programming can be found below and at carnegielibrary.org/blackhistorymonth2023.
American Sirens: The Incredible Story of the Black Men Who Became America’s First Paramedics Book Talk
Wednesday, February 1 | 5:30 – 7:00 pm @ CLP – Hill District
Join us for a discussion with author Kevin Hazzard and Freedom House Paramedics John Moon and Bill Raynovich as they discuss the history and importance of the Freedom House ambulance service, founded in the Hill District in 1967. Registration strongly encouraged. First 45 registrants will receive copies of American Sirens.
Art as Black Resistance with Cue Perry
Wednesday, February 8 | 4 – 5 pm @ CLP – Woods Run
Tuesday, February 21 | 3:30 – 4:30 pm @ CLP – Brookline
This workshop for children in grades K-5 will be led by artist and arts educator Cue Perry and will focus on art as a form of Black resistance throughout history.
Art as Self Care and Resistance with Juliandra Jones
Wednesday, February 8 | 5:30 – 6:30 pm @ CLP – Allegheny
Saturday, February 11 | 12 – 1 pm @ CLP – South Side
Wednesday, February 15 | 5:30 – 6:30 pm @ CLP – Homewood
Tuesday, February 21 | 5:30 – 6:30 pm @ CLP – Sheraden
Join artist and arts educator Juliandra Jones for this adult workshop on art as self-care.
Storytimes (in-person and virtual): Throughout the month of February, join us for storytime, where we will celebrate Black families and promote Black joy through stories and songs.
Kids Club: February Kids Club programs will explore the art of El Anatsui, Tyler Gordon and Alma Thomas. Additional hands-on activities include:
- Anansi’s Kente Cloth: Kids will learn about traditional Ghanaian cloth and motifs through weaving and loom making.
- Pittsburgh Freedom House: Learn about and celebrate the first community based medical service that today’s Emergency Medical Response Service (EMS) is based on. This group of trained paramedics, predominantly made up of Black men, was based in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Kids will make connections to our city’s Black history and make their own stethoscopes to listen to heart beats, just like the Freedom House Ambulance Crew members.
Teen Time & Teenspace Activities: February Teen Time programs will explore several the Civil Right Movement through the use of historic photos and videos. Additional hands-on and self-directed activities include:
- The Birth of Hip-Hop: In this celebration of hip-hop culture, teens will learn about the birth of hip hop via the Black History in Two Minutes series, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and learn to use an online photo editor to create hip-hop-inspired images.
- Paint in the Style of a Black Artist: Printouts of multiple artists’ works and paint supplies will be available.
- Black. First. Puzzle: A Jigsaw Puzzle Celebrating African American Women Who Changed the World (based on the book Brave, Black, First: 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World)
Visit carnegielibrary.org/events for specific storytimes, Kids Club and Teen Time program times and locations.
Reading Resources & Booklists
Black History Month 2023 Partner Book List
Black History Month is a reminder that Pittsburgh has many rich and complex stories that center around Black residents. CLP has partnered with several local organizations and individuals this year to showcase those histories, not only in February, but year-round.
We asked a few partners and presenters leading programming related to the Black Experience for their top reads for Black History Month. Below you’ll find favorites from the Outreach and Engagement Curator at August Wilson Archives at the University of Pittsburgh, a local artist and arts educator, the Resident Director of Pittsburgh Public Theater and a bonus featuring a few Hill District residents.
Punch Me up to the Gods
by Brian Broome
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother
by James McBride
Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot
by Mikki Kendall
Selected Poems of Langston Hughes
by Langston Hughes
Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice
by bell hooks
by Ralph Ellison
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays
by Damon Young
Black History Month Children’s Nonfiction
The lives of Black people, past and present, real and imaginary, are illuminated in the appealing titles below. Whether you choose the straight-forward biography of a contemporary activist, an alphabet book that traces the trajectory of Black history or an illustrated poem that portrays a child’s shifting emotions and experiences, you’ll find plenty to pore over and enjoy
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
by Zetta Elliott and Noa Denmon
The ABCs of Black History
by Rio Cortez
Build a House
by Rhiannon Giddens
The People Remember
by Ibi Aanu Zoboi
Black History Month Adult Nonfiction
Dive into these selections by Black authors which place joy, discovery, creativity and excellence at the fore. Representing a wide spectrum of nonfiction, from crafting to cooking to sports to narrative essay (and some combining more than one!), these titles are, at their core, celebratory and enriching reads.
Inciting Joy: Essays
by Ross Gay
Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means for America
by Jason Reid
My Pretty Brown Doll: Crochet Patterns for a Doll That Looks Like You
by Yolonda Jordan
AphroChic: Celebrating the Legacy of the Black Family Home
by Jeanine Hays
Soul Culture: Black Poets, Books and Questions That Grew Me Up
by Remica Risher-Bingham