Monday, February 04, 2013

What it Means to Celebrate Black History Month

What about the other eleven months in the year?  Is history even in the past?  I think I need some help with this one.  Dr. Cornel West, can you help me out?   

In a 2011 interview with Craig Ferguson (host of the Late Late Show), West answers why he thinks Black History Month is important: 
Black history forces all of us, no matter what color, culture, or civilization, it goes beyond even America, to raise a terrifying question: What does it mean to be human? That is a terrifying question […] Black history forces us to say, what kind of human being are we going to be in America or in the New World or anywhere else. ([i]

No doubt, West’s point rings true 365 days a year.  We should be questioning ourselves, as terrifying as some questions might be, and getting to the heart of why humans treat other humans so badly, and how can we stop it from continuing.  What needs to be reconciled before we understand what happened before the 1960s and how can we approach issues that remain unresolved?  As we so often hear these days: We have come a long way, but there is still work to be done.   We're all searching for peace and answers--sometimes that alone seems like progress, or, at the very least, the effort provides a space where people from all backgrounds and experiences can see that the other side (if there is such a thing) are also seeking perspective and truth.  

This year, Carmichael Library is celebrating Black History Month by acknowledging complications that surface when a celebration calls for highlighting the appalling alongside the inspirational--because, let's face it, so much of Black History in America is appalling, but the struggles of Selma and Birmingham changed everything.  We are inspired by those who fought to make things right for all of us--so right, in fact, that today's fourth grader learning about the Civil Rights Era can't even imagine segregation and finds the idea completely ridiculous.   

We’ve put together a book and art display that will change weekly; we’ve also created a special Black History Month playlist on Spotify.  Check out the Spotify playlist while you’re studying or grading papers.  We hope you’ll be intrigued, provoked, and inspired by our selections—and perhaps you’ll advise us on what to include in the coming years.   

Link to Spotify Account—Put together by our very own Mike Price, Digital Media Specialist

Book Display Schedule
Week 1: Books on histories—Slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights; Books on Race—White & Black relations, Black identity; Black Studies Readers; New Southern Studies
Week 2: African American biographies and autobiographies
Week 3: African American writers and musicians
Week 4: African American artists and filmmakers
Also, leave comments here about what Black History Month means to you—which moments in history do you find particularly meaningful; name the African American leaders, heroes/heroine that inspire you or help you better understand American history; who are some of your favorite African American poets, writers, musicians, and film makers, and what do their particular contributions add to American art?   
--Jill Deaver
Carmichael Library
ILL Coordinator & Public Services Assistant    

[i]The Late Late Show intro song is pretty terrible, I recommend skipping it. 

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