Black History Month at the library

Celebrating Black History Month: A Journey of Learning and Empowerment for Families

February is the month of love and a time to celebrate and honor Black History Month. It’s an opportunity for families to come together and explore the richness of African American history, culture and contributions. Families that foster an inclusive understanding of different heritages can empower our children to appreciate diversity and promote a more harmonious society.

Established as “Negro History Week” in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month has evolved into a month-long celebration in the United States. It serves as a reminder of African Americans’ triumphs and enduring legacy throughout history and allows parents to engage with their children in meaningful conversations about the importance of diversity and equality.

Exploring Black History Month at the Library

Black History Month is an opportunity to explore through books the stories of influential figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou and many others who have played pivotal roles in shaping history. Classics like “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou or “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois provide valuable insights into the African American experience.

Black History Month at the library

Picture books like “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” by Vashti Harrison offer a visually engaging introduction to notable figures for younger readers. Visiting your local Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library will give you access to these books and many more.

Families can also explore documentaries and films that showcase the achievements of the African American community. Spark meaningful conversations by watching educational movies such as “Selma” and “Hidden Figures,” which depict the lives of African Americans succeeding even when the odds were against them.

An HCPLC Library card gives families free access to a wealth of content through streaming services such as Hoopla and Kanopy.

Black History Month at the library
Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library

Participating in local events and activities is another way to immerse your family in the spirit of Black History Month. Many communities organize educational programs, art exhibitions and cultural events that provide opportunities for families to connect with and learn from one another. Visiting museums or historical sites dedicated to African American history can offer children a hands-on and immersive experience, making history come alive.

The Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library (1505 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa) pays homage to the historic Black neighborhood of Central Avenue. An interactive mini-museum features interactive displays and exhibits that highlight the importance of the historic Central Avenue business district and other facets of African American life, history and culture. Families can also enjoy learning about African American genealogy with an African-American-focused genealogy reference collection.

The C. Blythe Andrews Jr. Public Library (2607 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa) houses the historical Florida Sentinel Bulletin newspaper, a local African American newspaper that highlighted African American life in Tampa. Learn about the achievements of Editor-in-chief C. Blythe Andrews Jr. and his impact and influence on African American media in Tampa. Visitors can also browse through bound copies of the Florida Sentinel Bulletin newspaper dating back to the 1940s.

Black History Month at the library

Approaching conversations about Black History Month with sensitivity and openness encourages questions, fosters curiosity and creates a safe space for children to express their thoughts and feelings. Actively engaging in these discussions contributes to developing compassionate and socially aware individuals who value the richness of diversity.

Through literature, film, community events and open conversations, parents can instill in their children a deep appreciation for diversity, equality and the profound impact that every individual can have on shaping a better future.

*Photos provided by HCPLC | Originally published in February 2024 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.