7 ways to celebrate Black History Month at the Library

Black History Month was founded by Carter G. Woodson in 1926. It was called “Negro History Week”, a term that was used by African Americans during that time, and was celebrated during the second week of February because it coincided with the birthdays of Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Black History Month as we know it today was proposed by Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in 1969. Six years later, it became federally recognized. 

Black history is American history; is world history; is human history. It should be acknowledged, taught, and celebrated every single day of the year, not just in February. The Library is proud to provide materials, events, and other programs that center the African Americans diaspora throughout the year. 

In honor of Black History Month, we’re providing even more fun things than usual, including dance classes, art-making, live theater, educational discussions, and more. Read on to learn all the different ways you can celebrate Black History Month and then carry that celebration forward. 

Create art 

Masterpieces in the Making with Kennedy Heights Art Center, opens a new window allows kids at the Walnut Hills, Miami Township, Pleasant Ridge, and Green Township branch libraries to learn about African American artists and create a piece inspired by their work. You can also join the North Central Branch Library for a weekend of examining the work of African American illustrators and create your own unique drawings on February 8 from 2-3 p.m.

Get up and dance 

Teens and tweens are invited to celebrate Black History Month by connecting with dance instructors from Elementz, opens a new window this February. Elementz was founded to support Cincinnati’s youth through the use of music, poetry, and art to make a positive impact. Hip hop dance classes take place at the Cheviot Branch Library on February 14 from 4-5 p.m. and at the Norwood Branch Library on February 22 from 4-5 p.m. 

Learn something new 

From diving deep into the history of 19th Century Black Cincinnatians February 24 at the Cheviot Branch Library to joining in a fun game of Black History Month Trivia for kids at the Elmwood Place Branch Library or for teens at the Miami Township Branch, there’s something for everyone to learn this month at many of our branch libraries. You can even take part in Potato Chip Taste Test February 4 from 4-5 p.m. at the Reading Branch where you’ll learn about the inventor of the potato chip, George Crum! 

At the Downtown Main Library, the Genealogy & Local History Department is hosting thee events over the course of the month. The first on February 8 will center around 19th Century Black Cincinnatians with retired Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Steve Kemme. The second will focus on the African American Society Columns, opens a new window in Cincinnati's newspapers in the 1800s. Finally, on February 29 from 2-3 p.m. is the "Under One Roof: The African American Experience in Music Hall" presentation with Thea Tjepkema.  

Watch a film  

Black Folks Make Movies hosts a special screening at the St. Bernard Branch Library Sunday, February 16 from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. Later in the month, you can watch TED Talks by influential African Americans at the Clifton Branch on February 23 and the Hyde Park Branch on February 27. 

Join a book club 

We love a good book club, and there are several that center the work of Black writers. We teamed up with the blaCk Coffee Lounge to create blaCk Readers – a book club that meets the first Thursday of every month from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at blaCk Coffee to celebrate authors of color through deep discussions about enjoyable, thought-provoking books. The first meeting is February 18 to discuss Joy and Pain by Adrienne Thompson.

The Reading While Black book club at the Avondale Branch also meets monthly and you can join any time. The objective is to broaden the knowledge of the many African American authors and their writings, and just have fun reading. And don’t forget about the African American Read-In, opens a new window at the Downtown Main Library, Hyde Park, and Pleasant Ridge branch libraries! 

See a play

Join TCT On Tour, a division of The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati, opens a new window, as they explore the life of Civil Right's activist Coretta Scott King. Born in Alabama, Coretta Scott King overcame childhood adversity in the segregated south and attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. A talented singer, she would go on to play an integral role as the First Lady of the American Civil Rights movement, not only as the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but also as an independent woman. Coretta Scott King’s story continues to be an inspiration to our nation and the world and you can catch a performance depicting her life and legacy at the North Central Branch February 15 and the Downtown Main Library February 17. 

Tell your story 

Stop by the Atrium of the Downtown Main Library at lunchtime for Black Out Poetry Craft where you can workshop and share your own poetry. You can also stop by Writer-in-Residence Dani McClain’s office hours at the Groesbeck Branch Library on February 21 from 4-5 p.m. to get expert feedback and advice on your writing. Let your voice be heard! 

For the exact dates and times of all the events listed as well as other Black History Month events, please visit our events page.