Black History Month

"We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice." --- Carter Woodson (on founding Negro History Week, 1926)

The Gordon Avenue Library has a special African-American collection.  The Roland E. Beauford Sr., African American Collection,  includes a selection of the best books and other materials, fiction and non-fiction, by and/or about African Americans.

Below you will find a selected list of websites that contain information about the African American experience in the United States.


Central Library:

  • African American Inventors Exhibit: January 21 - February 28
    The display case located near the Children's area features items representing inventions by African Americans. Exhibit courtesy of Collette Thompson.

  • Each a Mighty Voice:; The African American Experience in Albemarle County Exhibit: January 15 - February 28
    Located in the art display area on the 3rd floor. Uncover history with this exhibit of documents and photographs from the archives of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society.

Central Library:
Join JMRL and the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights in a community discussion of the Civil Rights Movement and its ongoing effects on society. Each evening features segments of award-winning documentaries focused on one aspect of the Civil Rights Movement, and ends with audience discussions led by prominent community members and scholars. Created Equal: America's Civil Rights Struggle is made possible through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Thursdays at 6 pm on January 15, January 29, February 12, and February 26. More Information See individual sessions below.
Check the JMRL Reads Wiki bullet

  • Central Library: Thursday, January 15, 6 pm

    DVD coverTHE ABOLITIONISTS (2013) an American Experience Film, written, produced & directed by Rob Rapley.
    Film segments will be shown followed by audience discussion led by prominent community members and scholars. Abolitionist allies Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimké turned a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that literally changed the nation. Check the catalog bullet

  • Central Library: Thursday, January 29, 6 pm

    DVD coverSLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME (2012) produced & directed by Sam Pollard.
    Film segments will be shown followed by audience discussion led by prominent community members and scholars. A documentary which takes a look at various instances where slavery has continued to exist in America even in the many years following its supposed abolition. Check the catalog bullet

  • Central Library: Thursday, February 12, 6 pm

    DVD coverFREEDOM RIDERS (2010) written, produced & directed by Stanley Nelson, produced by Laurens Grant.
    Film segments will be shown followed by audience discussion led by prominent community members and scholars. From May until December 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives – many endured savage beatings and imprisonment – for simply traveling together on buses as they journeyed through the deep south. Determined to test and challenge segregated travel facilities, the Freedom Riders were greeted with mob violence and bitter racism, sorely testing their belief in non-violent activism. From award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, “Freedom Riders” features testimony from a fascinating cast of central characters; the riders themselves, state and federal government officials, and journalists who witnessed the rides firsthand. Check the catalog bullet
  • Central Library: Thursday, February 26, 6 pm

    DVD coverTHE LOVING STORY (2011) an Augusta Films production ; director, Nancy Buirski ; writers, Nancy Buirski & Susie Ruth Powell.S
    Film segments will be shown followed by audience discussion led by prominent community members and scholars. A racially-charged criminal trial and a heart-rending love story converge in this documentary about Richard and Mildred Loving, set during the turbulent Civil Rights era. Check the catalog bullet

  • Louisa County Library Tuesday Evening Book Discussion Group: Tuesday, January 27, 7 pm

    book cover.MRS.LINCOLN'S DRESSMAKER by Jennifer Chiaverini
    Presents a fictionalized account of the friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and her dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave. Check the Catalog arrow

  • Louisa County Library: Wednesday, February 3, 6 pm

    Join us for an intriguing presentation by George Grady, Sr on the Buffalo Soldiers, the first peacetime all black regiment of the United States Army.

  • Central Library: Regional Author Series - Sunday, February 8, 2:30 pm
    book cover

    "The gravestone is an invaluable source of information, but it is only one of a complex series of mortuary rituals that can reveal much about the culture of the dead," writes Rainville (Sweet Briar College). Like most scholars who study African American archaeology and history, Rainville successfully attempts to weave a story of undocumented populations through the materials they leave behind. Check the Catalog arrow
    Enjoy light refreshments as authors discuss their works. Books will be available for purchase. No registration required.

  • Greene County Library Friday Film Series: Friday, February 13, 7 pm

    MovieFAUBOURG TREME: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans directed by Dawn Logsdon (2008)
    Faubourg Treme documents the enduring legacy of one of the United States' oldest African American communities, an area just outside the French Quarter of New Orleans.more info

  • Central Library Black Authors Reading Group: Tuesday, February 17, 7 pm

    book coverTHE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE by Ayana Mathis
    Traces the story of Great Migration-era mother Hattie Shepherd, who in spite of poverty and a dysfunctional husband uses love and Southern remedies to raise nine children and prepare them for the realities of a harsh world.Check the Catalog arrow

  • book cover THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk Kidd

    Traces more than three decades in the lives of a wealthy Charleston debutante who longs to break free from the strictures of her household and pursue a meaningful life; and the urban slave, Handful, who is placed in her charge as a child before finding courage and a sense of self. Check the Catalog arrow
  • Central Library Brown Baggers Book Group: Thursday, February 19, 12 pm

    Louisa County Library Tuesday Evening Book Discussion Group: Tuesday, February 24, 7 pm

  • Central Library: Sunday, February 22, 2 pm
    No registration required Swing and sway to a West African beat with Whit Whitten and his drum and dance group, the Drum Call and Friends.

Selection of Films at JMRL with Black History Themes

  • 42: The Jackie Robinson story
    42 tells the life story of Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.
  • Locked out: the fall of massive resistance
    The story of the tragedies and triumphs of the children of Virginia who found themselves on the front lines of a cultural war that desegregated Virginia's public schools and forever altered American history.
  • Flying for freedom: untold stories of the Tuskegee Airmen
    Recounts the story of how some of the best pilots, mechanics and servicement in the United States military during World War II had to fight a battle against discrimination at home in order to be able to fight the war abroad.
  • Eyes on the Prize
    The history of the Civil rights movement in America, from the days of the Mississipi bus boycott to 1980's. Narrator, Julian Bond.
  • Black wheels: history of blacks in NASCAR and other motor sports
    Showcasing the often overlooked achievements of African-Americans in motor sports, this groundbreaking program showcases Black influence from the invention of stock car racing in the 1920's through today.
  • Faubourg Tremé: the untold story of Black New Orleans
    Long ago during slavery, Faubourg Tremé was home to the largest community of free black people in the Deep South and a hotbed of political ferment. This film presents the area's mysterious and neglected past. Shot largely before Hurricane Katrina and edited afterwards, the film is both celebratory and elegiac in tone.
  • I'm Carolyn Parker: the good, the mad, and the beautiful
    The story of Carolyn Parker, who was the last person to leave her neighborhood as Hurricane Katrina approached and the first person to return to her flood devastated community.
  • Roots
    Chronicles a black man's search for his heritage and reveals an epic panorama of America's past. Based on the book by Alex Haley.
  • African American Lives
    A compelling combination of storytelling and science, this series uses genealogy, oral histories, family stories and DNA to trace roots of several accomplished African Americans down through American history and back to Africa.
  • DuSable Museum of African American History
    This program tours the DuSable Museum of African-American History, and in the process illustrates the black experience in North America. Narrator, John Patrick.

Selected Books

AFRICAN-AMERICAN FIRSTS: a look at African Americans who achieved major firsts in such areas as journalism, entertainment, the military, history, and politics, noting the dates of each event.

AMERICAN UPRISING: the untold story of America's largest slave revolt.

ATLAS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY: text, maps, and illustrations introduce African cultures and trace African American history from the slave trade through the Civil War, emancipation, the early twentieth century, and the civil rights movement to the present..

CARTER G. WOODSON: FATHER OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY: the biography of the son of former slaves who received a Ph.D. in history from Harvard and devoted his life to bringing the achievements of his race to the world's attention.

LIFE UPON THESE SHORES: chronicles the most important figures and events, both famous and overlooked, in African-American history.

ON MY JOURNEY NOW: tells the story of Africans in America through the words of 46 spirituals.

ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS: a revealing personal account by the legendary basketball star, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, traces his childhood in Harlem, his professional career, and the pivotal influence of the Harlem Renaissance on black culture in the United States.

1001 THINGS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY: A comprehensive and entertaining account of the most significant events, individuals, and social movements in African American history is presented in a concise, easy-to-read format.

SISTER DAYS: a collection of meditations celebrates the stories and legacies of African American women who made a difference.

VIRGINIA SHADE: an African American history of Falmouth, VA.

Search for more information:

Books on Black History

Books on African American History

Books about Notable African Americans

Books on the Harlem Renaissance

Selected resources on African American History from the YA Homework Help site

  • African American Heritage in Virginia
    A Virginia Foundation for the Humanities webpage that explores the African American Heritage.
  • African American Historic Sites Database
    A Virginia Foundation for the Humanities initiative designed to encourage tourism to African American heritage sites and organizations in Virginia while increasing knowledge of the African-American experience.
  • The African-American Migration Experience
    Compiled by The New York Public Library and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The Web site is organized around thirteen defining migrations that have formed and transformed African America and the nation. Each migration is presented through five units and the site presents more than 16,500 pages of texts, 8,300 illustrations, and more than 60 maps.
  • The Africana Heritage Project: Researching African American Genealogy, History and Culture
    The mission of this project is to rediscover precious records that document the names and lives of slaves, freed persons and their descendants, and make that information available on this free, public access website.
  • Afro-American Sources in Virginia: A Guide to Manuscripts
    Presents the information derived from a survey of the resources in Virginia repositories, describing the principal collections of interest to scholars concerned with the Afro-American experience.
  • Explorations in Black Leadership
    This site features a collection of interviews of leaders in the black community. Conducted chiefly by Julian Bond, national chairman of the NAACP and professor of history at the University of Virginia, these oral histories focus on issues of black leadership and the transformational role of the civil rights movement in America.
  • Freedman's Bureau - Virginia
    Established in the War Department by an act of March 3, 1865, the Bureau supervised all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen, including issuing rations, clothing and medicine. The Bureau also assumed custody of confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, border states, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory.
  • The Geography of Slavery in Virginia
    This is a digital collection of advertisements for runaway and captured slaves and servants in 18th- and 19th-century Virginia newspapers. Building on the rich descriptions of individual slaves and servants in the ads, the project offers a personal, geographical and documentary context for the study of slavery in Virginia, from colonial times to the Civil War. One of the projects of the Virginia Center for Digital History.
  • Race and Place: An African-American Community in the Jim Crow South - Charlottesville, Virginia
    Race and Place is an archive about the racial segregation laws, or the 'Jim Crow' laws from the late 1880s until the mid-twentieth century. The focus of the collection is Charlottesville in Virginia. The archive contains photos, letters, two regional censuses and a flash map of the town of Charlottesville. This research effort is a collaborative project of the Virginia Center for Digital History and the Carter G. Woodson Institute of African and Afro-American Studies.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture
    Another project of the Virginia Center for Digital History. The funding for this site was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
    Information on almost 35,000 slaving voyages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. It offers researchers, students and the general public a chance to rediscover the reality of one of the largest forced movements of peoples in world history.