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Black History Month

By Kevin Cretsos

Every February during Black History Month, we honor the contributions of Black voices and experiences that have historically been marginalized and suppressed. Harvard scholar Carter G. Woodson dedicated his life toward highlighting the accomplishments of African Americans. In 1926, he led efforts to establish Negro History Week in the second week of February, which eventually helped designate February as Black History Month.

For 2024, the theme of Black History Month is African Americans and the Arts. This includes the impacts African Americans have had on visual arts, performing arts, music, literature, film, and other art forms throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.

In colonial America, enslaved people of African descent shared their artistry in craftsmanship and music, singing spirituals over the hardships of slavery. This music would influence musicians like Muddy Waters and the creation of other music genres like gospel, soul and the blues. 

In the 1920s, art flourished in Black communities through movements like the Harlem Renaissance with writers Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. Jazz evolved with musicians like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.

During the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, Malcolm X was assassinated. The Black Arts Movement grew as a response, inspiring Black artists such as Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, and James Baldwin to create works fueled by political activism. 

This legacy of African American art has helped preserve traditions while empowering and inspiring future generations. To learn more about Black history of the arts, browse and read these suggested websites, books and databases.

Black History Month Websites


eBooks (UD login required)

Databases (UD login required)

— Kevin Cretsos is a library systems support specialist and a member of the University Libraries Diversity and Inclusion Team.

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