Black History Month

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of the achievements by African Americans and a time to honor the central role of black Americans in U.S. history and beyond.

Upcoming Events

Lakeview Book Discussion of "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead
Thursday, February 1 | 6:30-8:00pm | Lakeview Library

Join the Lakeview Book Group around the fireplace to discuss "The Underground Railroad" by prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead. New members always welcome.


Hidden Voices: African American Writers in Wisconsin
Friday, February 2 | 6:30-8:00pm | Alicia Ashman Library

Join three Madison-area African American writers - poet Fabu, novelist Sherry Lucille, and playwright and novelist Catrina Sparkman - as they discuss their poetry and prose in relation to the work of three African American literary giants who also lived and worked in the Madison area during the 20th century. This event is funded by Beyond the Page, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Madison Community Foundation.


How to Pay for College Info Session with UNCF
Thursday, February 8 | 3:00-5:00pm | Central Library

Learn about some of the scholarships and financial aid options you have for paying for college. Presented by representatives of UNCF and other area educational institutions. This event is immediately followed by apanel discussion and film screening focused on the historical black college and university experience, at the Central Library from 5-8:45pm.


The HBCU Experience: Discussion and Q&A
Thursday, February 8 | 5:00-6:00pm | Central Library

Before tonight's Indie Lens Pop-Up screening of "Tell Us We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities," come hear about the experiences of some graduates of historically black colleges and universities that are now living in Madison. There will also be time for questions. Light refreshments will be provided between the discussion and the film screening.


Indie Lens Pop-Up Presents: "Tell Them We Are Rising"
Thursday, February 8 | 6:30-8:45pm | Central Library

"Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities," a film by Stanley Nelson and Marco Williams, explores the pivotal role historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played over the course of 150 years in American history, culture, and identity. Please stay after the film for a discussion with local experts and community leaders. This series is a partnership between ITVS, WPT, and Madison Public Library.


Movie Night at Lakeview: Marshall
Thursday, February 16 | 6:00-7:30pm | Lakeview Library

Director Reginald Hudlin’s Marshall, is based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. It follows the young lawyer (Chadwick Boseman) to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) charged with sexual assault and attempted murder of his white socialite employer (Kate Hudson). The high profile case and the partnership with Friedman served as a template for Marshall’s creation of the NAACP legal defense fund.


Thursday Book Group: Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Thursday, February 22 | 1:00-2:00pm | Sequoya Library

Sequoya's Thursday Book Group hosts a book discussion of Underground Railroad by prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead. Whitehead’'s narrative weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day.


The Salad Days Book Club: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Thursday, February 22 | 6:30-8:00pm | Daisy Cafe and Cupcakery (2827 Atwood Ave.)

Join Hawthorne Library's monthly book club, The Salad Days to discuss The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which features sixteen-year-old Starr Carter. Starr moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.


Movie Night at Hawthorne: Marshall
Friday, February 23 | 7:00-9:00pm | Hawthorne Library

Director Reginald Hudlin’s Marshall, is based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. It follows the young lawyer (Chadwick Boseman) to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) charged with sexual assault and attempted murder of his white socialite employer (Kate Hudson). The high profile case and the partnership with Friedman served as a template for Marshall’s creation of the NAACP legal defense fund.


Hidden Voices: African American Writers in Wisconsin
Saturday, February 24 | 2:00-3:30pm | Pinney Library

Join three Madison-area African American writers - poet Fabu, novelist Sherry Lucille, and playwright and novelist Catrina Sparkman - as they discuss their poetry and prose in relation to the work of three African American literary giants who also lived and worked in the Madison area during the 20th century. This event is funded by Beyond the Page, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Madison Community Foundation.


Family Fun Night: Reframe the Name with Jaia Davis, Author of I Am F.A.T.
Friday, March 2 | 6:00-7:00pm | Goodman South Madison Library

Name calling hurts and bullying is painful. Come and hear local 10 year-old author, Jaia Davis, share how she coped with bullying and provide tools for everyone young and old to deal with bullies. Bully Survivors Unite! Family Fun Nights are funded by a gift from The Capital Times Kids Fund.


Pinney Book Group discusses Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Wednesday, March 27 | 7:00-8:00pm | Pinney Library

New and returning members can join the Pinney Book Group for a discussion of Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Trevor's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist.


Racial Justice Film Series
Wednesday, March 28 | 6:00-8:15pm | Central Library

This film series is hosted by Community Shares of Wisconsin (CSW). CSW has been working to advance social justice and environmental protection for over 45 years. Its member nonprofits lead efforts throughout Wisconsin to protect civil rights and build a safe and sustainable future where everyone can thrive. This next film will be announced shortly.


Recommended Reads

cover art African Americans in the West by Rachel Stuckey

The Wild West became a place of new beginnings and great promise for many people, especially African Americans. As slavery and civil war ravaged the East, many African Americans attempted to start anew on the frontier. This book puts a spotlight on the trials and successes of African Americans in the West, and provides short biographies of famous African American cowboys, such as Nat Love and Bose Ikart. Readers will delight in the information-rich text and corresponding visuals.

cover art The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6' 4", African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama's Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian by W. Kamau Bell

The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell is a humorous, well-informed take on the world today, tackling a wide range of issues, such as race relations; fatherhood; the state of law enforcement today; comedians and superheroes; right-wing politics; left-wing politics; failure; his interracial marriage; white men; his up-bringing by very strong-willed, race-conscious, yet ideologically opposite parents; his early days struggling to find his comedic voice, then his later days struggling to find his comedic voice; why he never seemed to fit in with the Black comedy scene or the white comedy scene; how he was a Black nerd way before that became a thing; how it took his wife and an East Bay lesbian to teach him that racism and sexism often walk hand in hand; and much, much more.

cover art The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty

A renowned culinary historian offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry--both black and white--through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom. In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes readers to the white-hot center of this fight, tracing the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine.

cover art Dream a World Anew: The African American Experience and the Shaping of America by Kinshasha Conwill

Dream A World Anew is the stunning gift book accompanying the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. It combines informative narratives from leading scholars, curators, and authors with objects from the museum's collection to present a thorough exploration of African American history and culture.

cover art The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers by Hollis Robbins

Named one of NPR 's Best Books of 2017, The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers is the most comprehensive anthology of its kind. Edited by Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this collection comprises work from forty-nine writers arranged into sections of memoir, poetry, and essays on feminism, education, and the legacy of African American women writers.


Other Resources