February is Black History Month, a time to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans. It is an also an important opportunity for self-reflection and education on issues relating to race and equity. Throughout this month, Northeast Arc’s Race, Diversity and Inclusion​ Committee has been collecting stories and facts about significant figures in Black history, recommended reading materials, podcasts, videos, Black-owned businesses to support, and much more. Review some of these crowd-sourced materials below!

Notable Facts, Key Figures, and Powerful Quotes

  • The celebration of Black History Month began as “Negro History Week,” which was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher. It became a month-long celebration in 1976. Source 
  • “In this first Black History Month after the racial reckoning of 2020, I feel impelled to do what historians rarely do: mark history while the story is still being written. We are living in a time when the white gaze remains ever present in American life, but is hardly dominant among today’s assemblage of courageous Black creators. We are living in the time of a new renaissance—what we are calling the Black Renaissance—the third great cultural revival of Black Americans, after the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, after the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.” –Ibram X. Kendi, Time Magazine​ 
  • The lesser-known Claudette Colvin was arrested nine months prior to Rosa Parks for not giving up her bus seat to white passengers. Source​
  • In 1873, a Black physician named Daniel Hale Williams performed the world’s first successful open-heart surgery. Source
  • On November 1, 1900, brothers James Weldon Johnson, author, educator and general secretary of the NAACP (1920-1930), and John Rosamond Johnson composed the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, commonly referred to as the black national anthem.” Here is a video of Alicia Keys performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing”​
  • Harriet Tubman escaped slavery and returned time and time again to rescue family and friends in Maryland between 1849 and the outbreak of the Civil War. She was nicknamed General Tubman by John Brown and Grandma Moses by others for leading so many slaves out of bondage. She also served as a spy for Union forces during the Civil War.  She was awarded full military honors upon her death. Source​
  • Philanthropist and entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker (real name Sarah Breedlove), born to formerly enslaved sharecroppers, was orphaned at just seven years old. After later suffering hair loss from a scalp condition, Walker invented an innovative line of African American hair care products in 1905 that led to her distinction as one of America’s first self-made millionaires. Her highly successful cosmetics company is still in business today. Learn more: 10 Black Inventors Who Changed Your Life​
  • John Mercer Langston was the first Black man to become a lawyer when he passed the bar in Ohio in 1854. When he was elected to the post of Town Clerk for Brownhelm, Ohio, in 1855 Langston became one of the first African Americans ever elected to public office in America. John Mercer Langston was also the great-uncle of Langston Hughes, famed poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Source
  • In 1950, Ralph J. Bunch became the first Black Nobel Peace Prize recipient for his role as mediator in the Palestinian conflict. Source
  • Sojourner Truth is the most widely known nineteenth-century black feminist foremother. Throughout her life, Truth linked the movement to abolish slavery and the movement to secure women’s rights, stating that for black women, race and gender could not be separated. In 1864, Sojourner Truth sold cartes-de-visite, small photographs mounted to a paper card, to support her activism. Featuring the slogan “I sell the shadow to support the substance,” Truth capitalized on the popularity of these collector’s items to support herself and fund her speaking tours. As a formerly enslaved person, claiming ownership of her image for her own profit was revolutionary. Source​
  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Resources By Media

Articles and Websites:

Action Resources:

Race in the United States:

Policing and Reform:

Race and Health:

Organizations:

Books and Independent Black-Owned Book Stores:

Books:

  • The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
  • The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  • How to be an Anti-Racist, Ibram X. Kendi

Where to Buy:

Podcasts

Videos