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University Libraries

African American History Month: Resources in the University Libraries

By Kristina Schulz

February has been the month for celebrating the achievements of African Americans for over 40 years. Official recognition of African American History Month came in 1976 when President Gerald Ford declared that Americans needed to  “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history” (History.com). 

Achievements of African Americans have been celebrated nationally in some form since 1926 through the efforts of Carter G. Woodson  as he worked to establish a black history week. 

This year, the theme “African Americans and the Vote” honors the centennial of the 19th Amendment (1920) granting women’s suffrage and the sesquicentennial of the 15th Amendment (1870) giving black men the right to vote (from History.com).

University Libraries have a wide range of resources that highlight African American history and achievement. These resources include film, literature, special collections and databases.  

LITERATURE

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

  • Isabel Wilkerson

This book chronicles the journey of three African Americans who took part in the massive movement from the South to the North, Midwest and West that millions of black families took in the 20th century. It’s an acclaimed historical account that studies a definitive period in American history (Goodreads). Available in print or as an ebook.

Home

  • Toni Morrison

This 2012 novel tells the story of a 20-something Korean War veteran and his journey home from an integrated army to a segregated society. The book was named one of the best novels of 2012 for its careful consideration of mental illness, race relations, family, history and the concept of home (Goodreads). Available in print.

Citizen: An American Lyric

  • Claudia Rankine

This 2015 collection of literature blurs the lines between poetry and criticism. It provides a powerful meditation on race that creates a lyrical portrait of the current social and political climate. Nominated in two categories for the National Book Critics Circle Awards, the book is “a dazzling expression of the painful double consciousness of Black life in America” (Washington Post). It is said to feel like an “eavesdropping on America” (Goodreads). Available in print.

FILM

Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed; The First Black Woman to Run for President

Recalling a watershed event in U.S. politics, this Peabody Award-winning documentary takes an in-depth look at the 1972 presidential campaign of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and the first to seek nomination for the highest office in the land. It was an official selection at the Sundance International Film Festival and the South by Southwest Film Festival (Kanopy). Access it from Kanopy.

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Black colleges and universities are a haven for black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries and have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. This 2017 PBS documentary, an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival and winner of Outstanding Independent Documentary at the Black Reel Awards, examines the impact these institutions have had on American history, culture and national identity (Kanopy). Access it from Kanopy.

UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Visit University Archives and Special Collections on the second floor of Albert Emanuel Hall.

Herbert Woodward Martin Papers

While at UD, Herbert Woodward Martin was a professor of English and poet-in-residence for more than three decades. Now a professor emeritus, he taught creative writing and African American literature and devoted decades to editing and performing the works of the poet and novelist Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906). His works are also available on eCommons. 

BATU Student Organization Records

Black Action Through Unity is a student organization that recently celebrated 50 years on UD’s campus. It serves as a resource for all black students on campus. 

Uhuru 

Uhuru was the campus newsletter of Black Action Through Unity (BATU) from 1977 through 1980. Read it on eCommons.

The Black Perspective

The Black Perspective is an African American student publication from the late 1970s through the early 2000s. Topics covered current events, campus news and issues from an African American perspective. Read it on eCommons.

In Celebration of Black History Month: A Collection of Reading and Activities for Students to Learn about the International Contributions of African Americans 

  • Margaret Peters

Available in print.

Black History in the Miami Valley: Bibliography

  • Compiled by Joseph D. Lewis

Available in print; library use only.

U.S. CATHOLIC SPECIAL COLLECTION

Visit the U.S. Catholic Special Collection on the third floor of Roesch Library.

Collection of African American Catholic History Materials

Papers, ephemera, and audio tapes relate to the African American Catholic population in the 1960s and ’70s, including items from the National Black Catholic Clergy Conference, National Black Sisters Conference, National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice, and the National Office for Black Catholics. View the collection's scope and contents.

DATABASES

African American Historical Newspapers, 1827-1998

A record of African American history and culture through newspaper articles covering the period of pre-Civil War through the Antebellum South and the Civil Rights Movement. Browse the database.

Oxford African American Studies Center

A database of people and events shaping African American history and culture, including more than 20,000 scholarly articles; the eight-volume African American National Biography; Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, edited by Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr.; the Encyclopedia of African American History (two volumes); and Black Women in America (2nd Edition). Browse the database

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