Black History Month at SLL

February 8, 2022


February is Black History Month! Each year, institutions around the country celebrate the important contributions of Black Americans to the history and culture of the United States. Below is a brief roundup of materials on Black History Month, race, and social justice online and from our library's collection. Happy Black History Month!


Black History Month traces its origins back to the early 1900s when Dr. Carter G. Woodson was inspired to found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) after viewing black history exhibits at the 50th anniversary of emancipation celebration in Washington, D.C. Dr. Woodson and ASNLH created Negro History Week in February of 1926 and eventually expanded Black History Week to Black History Month in the mid-1970s. 

ASNLH is still active today and is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). You can find an article about the origins of Black History Month on ASALH's website.

Beginning with Gerald Ford's message in 1976, presidents have issued messages honoring Black History Month each year. February was officially designated as "National Black (Afro-American) History Month" by Congress in 1986 after the passage of Public Law 99-244. This law authorizes and requests that the president "issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe that month with appropriate ceremonies and activities to salute all that Black Americans have done to help build our country."

Then-president Ronald Reagan issued the first official proclamation recognizing Black History Month that same year, and each president after Reagan has issued official proclamations every year in February. President Biden issued this year's proclamation on January 31st, 2022.

Online Resources

The Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration have all partnered together on an extensive web portal of resources for Black History Month. Be sure to check out the Exhibits and Collections section of the portal for a selection of exhibits on black education, art and design, civil rights, culture and folklife, and more.

The American Bar Association has a four-part webinar series titled Black Lawyers in America that looks at the state of the legal profession for black lawyers today. The ABA's Civil Rights & Social Justice group also has a webinar series on the various challenges that African Americans face in the 21st century. You can find these and other resources, including a gallery of black legal trailblazers, on the ABA's Black History Month page.

The Library of Congress also has a guide to Black History Month on its website. The guide includes a brief history and links to executive branch and legislative branch materials related to Black History Month.

Library Resources

Library users can browse a list of materials on civil rights and black history in two subjects in our Digital Collection

Civil Rights & Discrimination

Race and the Law

HeinOnline has a collection of materials related to the history of civil rights in the U.S., including government publications, legislative histories, books, articles, and more in their Civil Rights and Social Justice collection

The UNC Press Law Publication collection in HeinOnline also contains numerous titles on civil rights and racial justice, like the following: 

All of these materials are available to users with a current library account, so if you haven't already registered for one, check out our Get a Library Account pageLet us know if you need help accessing these materials!

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