Recommendations for Black History Month

               I’m usually pretty bad about remembering the different themes for each month. When I was in high school, I don’t think we celebrated April as Poetry Month or March as Women’s History Month. Even though National Hispanic Heritage Month was approved by LBJ and expanded to a 30 day celebration by Reagan in 1988, I never heard of it when I was a student. As a librarian, though, I’m supposed to keep a track of such things and find useful resources to share with staff and students. Here then, are some recommendations for Black History Month.

  • Library of Congress:  The nation’s library is always a great place to start whenever you’re looking for information and resources about our own past. The first thing I noticed is that it is no longer called Black History Month. It is now the clunkier, but more PC, African-American History Month. One of the more interesting (and deeply saddening) links on the LOC website takes you to a database that catalogs more than 35,000 Trans-Atlantic slave trips. Worth examining to contemplate the sheer numbers involved, not just in terms of time, but in terms of lives. Also worth noting on the site, is the For Teachers section, which includes ready to use lesson plans and student activities. 
  • Unfortunately, this website and its accompanying television station are obviously geared towards profiling celebrities who are famous as actors, singers, and entertainers. Besides profiling the inspiring and timeless stories of Samuel L. Jackson and Will Smith this month, Biography will also feature Barack Obama and Frederick Douglass, among others. Check local listings for other specials running this month. The Biography Classroom link also provides some school appropriate materials. 
  • Gale Free Resources: Here you’ll find about 70 short biographies for an interesting list of African Americans, both past and present. Included are familiar names like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Thurgood Marshall, as well as such contemporary celebrities such as Kanye West, Jamie Foxx and Queen Latifah. 
  • website. This website is hosted and organized by Verizon, a private telecommunications corporation, but its content providers are such non-profit, government agencies as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Among the events it recommends are a National Youth Summit webcast which will happen live on February 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm Eastern. Registration for the event is FREE. 
  • Poetry Foundation’s Poems to celebrate Black History Month. Having just been one of the judges for the Poetry Out Loud contest here at our school, I was reminded again of the power of a good poem. At this site you’ll find a small but good selection of writers, past and present. 


BONUS: Mini Movie Review: Red Tails

 You would think that a story about the Tuskegee Airmen, Black World War II fighter pilots, would be just the kind of thing tailored for someone like George Lucas. Not many people after all are more qualified to shoot airborne fight scenes than the maker of the Star Wars franchise. Despite supposedly working on it for more than twenty years, what ends up on the screen is a mess of a movie, unsure if it wants to be a period piece, a war movie or a romance. What I imagine ended up on the cutting room floor (the stories about the families stateside, the struggles against racism in the military and back home, the history of Tuskegee itself, the role that black women played during the time) are all left tragically untold. Surely, Lucas and his financial backers must have believed they could sell more tickets by taking the story in the direction they took it. What they lost, however, was a greater opportunity to tell stories that needed to be told and that people would return to over and over again.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you found something worth sharing.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2012. All rights reserved.


About htwilson

born in brooklyn, raised in queens, massachusetts, that's where I be.
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