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Black History Month

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 throughout history and in the present day.

Events, Displays and Activities

Madison Public Library Events:

Thursday Book Discussion of The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Thursday, January 27, 1-2pm | Online

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?  Please register to receive your link!

Alicia Ashman Celebrates Morgan FreemanMorgan Freeman movies at Alicia Ashman Library for Black History Month
Wednesdays in February, 1:30-3 p.m. | Alicia Ashman Library Community Room

Each month, the Alicia Ashman Film Festival showcases one actor or actresses' talent by screening different films they were featured in. During Black History Month, Alicia Ashman is celebrating Morgan Freeman, an African-American actor, director, and narrator known for his distinctive deep voice. Morgan Freeman is an Oscar, Golden Globe and NAACP Image Award-winning actor, take this opportunity to watch him in:

An Unfinished Life (February 2)
Bruce Almighty (February 9)
5 Flights Up (February 16)

The Sum of All Fears (February 23)

Authors Speak during Black History Month: Walker's Way by William Greer

Tuesday, February 15, 12:30-1:30 p.m. | Virtual

Madison Public Library is excited to introduce William Greer, a retired mental health professional and local Black author, who wrote his first novel, Walker’s Way, at the age of seventy-three. Greer has always loved western novels and T.V. shows, but as he got older, was sad to realize that the only black things in these epic stories of heroes and villains were the hats and the horses. This led him to research the role of African Americans in the “taming of the west," where he discovered that racism had nearly obliterated black people from the historical picture of the western frontier. In Walker’s Way, he aims to paint a more inclusive picture using a fictional story based on fact to show people of color in in the West who refuse to be defined as victims, supplicants or savages. Instead, they chisel dignity and self-respect out of the rock of oppression. Join a virtual conversation with Greer on Tuesday, February 15 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. to learn more about his process in researching and writing the book, as well as how he was able to marry his love of westerns with his love of his own Black identity. REGISTER | LEARN MORE

The Authors Speak series features local authors from a variety of backgrounds sharing their recently published works. This series is geared toward older adults, but all are welcome to attend!

Putting it into Practice: Wellness Practitioners Summit

Thursday, February 17, 7-8:30 p.m. | Virtual

A panel of local practitioners and organizers will reflect on their work centering BIPOC wellness experiences. The event will include time to network with fellow practitioners, as well as the opportunity to see some practices in action through several short showcases throughout the event. Come prepared to engage in thoughtful conversation as both a listener and speaker - how can we work collaboratively to create impactful, accessible and sustainable wellness services/resources for all? This event is hosted by the Live Well @ Your Library team who held a series of wellness events throughout Summer 2021 and who will share the results of a Community Wellness Survey. REGISTER | LEARN MORE

Goodman South Madison Book Discussion of Deacon King Kong by James McBrideGoodman South Madison Book Club Discusses Deacon King Kong by James McBride
February 19, 1:30-3 p.m. | Goodman South Madison Library, Meeting Room 115

The Goodman South Madison Book Club will discuss Deacon King Kong by James McBride for their February book. You can pick up a copy next to the Reference Desk at the library, place a hold in LINKcat or access the eBook or Audiobook via Overdrive. Come join the book club for a lively and thoughtful discussion - all are welcome! 

About the book: From James McBride, author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, comes a wise and witty novel about what happens to the witnesses of a shooting. In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .45 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project's drug dealer at point-blank range. The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride's funny, moving novel. 

Displays and Activities:

  • Central Black History Month Display Afrofuturism Speculative FictionGoodman South Madison Library has an interactive Black History Month walk through the library that features fun facts and information about iconic figures in Black history. When you visit, you can scan QR codes on pictures of Black Americans to learn more about them, see inspirational quotes and browse book displays for kids and adults. 
  • Sequoya Library has free bookmarks with inspirational quotes from civil rights icons and a few inspiring modern figures. You can find them in the adults, teen and children Black History Month book displays.
  • The following libraries have Black History Month book displays: Sequoya, Meadowridge, Hawthorne, Lakeview, Pinney, Monroe Street, Goodman South Madison, Central Library (Afrofuturism and Speculative Fiction display). 
  • You can also #ReadBlack this month (and beyond) with your book club using this list of Book Club Kits with titles by Black authors.

Wisconsin Book Festival Presents:

Wisconsin Book Festival presents Laura Coates for Just PursuitLaura Coates for Just Pursuit
February 2, 7pm | Central Library Community Room 301 & 302

When Laura Coates joined the Department of Justice as a prosecutor, she wanted to advocate for the most vulnerable among us. But she quickly realized that even with the best intentions, “the pursuit of justice creates injustice.” Through Coates’s experiences, we see that no matter how fair you try to fight, being Black, a woman, and a mother are identities often at odds in the justice system. She and her colleagues face seemingly impossible situations as they teeter between what is right and what is just. Laura Coates is a CNN senior legal analyst, SiriusXM host, and adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law. A former federal prosecutor, Coates served as Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and a Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, specializing in the enforcement of voting rights throughout the United States.


Black History Month or Related Events in the Greater Madison Community*

*this is not a complete list.  Please also check event calendars for Madison365UMOJA, Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, and UW-Madison

37th Annual MLK Day Observances
January 14-17, various times | King Coalition of Madison and Dane County

MLK Tribute & Celebration
January 17, 12pm | Wisconsin Public Radio

Justified Anger's Black History for a New Day Virtual Course
Spring course registration open through January 21, 2022.  

UW-Madison PLACE The 4th Annual Virtual Black History Education Conference - Black History Month Celebrating "I Am Somebody"
February 18 and 1, 2022

City of Madison Department of Civil Rights is sharing trivia or highlighting significant moments in Black history on their social media! Follow along and participate via their Facebook page


Videos of Past Events

Tribute to Our Elders: Speak and Song. Presented on February 20, 2020, at Goodman South Madison Library.

African American History in Madison. Presented on February 27, 2020, at Goodman South Madison Library.