History

Known as the “Father of Black History” and considered a pioneer in the study of African-American history, Carter G. Woodson is given much of the credit for Black History Month.

Woodson was born in Virginia in 1875 and was the son of former slaves. Growing up, access to a good education and job opportunities were limited, but he ended up studying at one of the few high schools for black students after saving money from working as a coal miner.

At 19, Woodson entered high school, where he completed a four-year curriculum in two years. He went on to earn his master’s degree in history from the University of Chicago and later earned a doctorate in history from Harvard. Disturbed that history textbooks largely ignored America’s black population, Woodson took on the challenge of writing black Americans into the nation’s history.

In 1926 he sent out a press release to mark the first Black History Week in the US. Woodson chose the second week of February for this celebration because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population:

  • Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery and became an abolitionist and civil rights leader; though his birthdate isn’t known, he celebrated it on February 14.
  • President Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which abolished slavery in America’s confederate states; he was born on February 12.

The event expanded in 1970, and since 1976 every US president has officially designated February as Black History Month in the US. Throughout his life, Carter G Woodson worked tirelessly to promote black history in schools, leaving an indelible legacy.

Movies

Swan Song: Set in the near future, “Swan Song” is a powerful, emotional journey told through the eyes of Cameron (Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father diagnosed with a terminal illness who is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor (Glenn Close) to shield his family from grief. As Cam grapples with whether or not to alter his family’s fate, he learns more about life and love than he ever imagined. “Swan Song” explores how far we will go, and how much we’re willing to sacrifice, to make a happier life for the people we love. IMDb

Bruised: Jackie Justice is a mixed martial arts fighter who leaves the sport in disgrace. Down on her luck and simmering with rage and regret years after the fight, she’s coaxed into a brutal underground fight by her manager and boyfriend Desi and grabs the attention of a fight league promoter who promises Jackie a life back in the Octagon. But the road to redemption becomes unexpectedly personal when Manny – the son she gave up as an infant – shows up at her doorstep. A triumphant story of a fighter who reclaims her power, in and out of the ring, when everyone has counted her out. IMDb

The Harder They Fall: When outlaw Nat Love discovers that his enemy Rufus Buck is being released from prison he rounds up his gang to track Rufus down and seek revenge. Those riding with him in this assured, righteously new school Western include his former love Stagecoach Mary, his right and left hand men hot-tempered Bill Pickett and fast drawing Jim Beckwourth and a surprising adversary-turned-ally. Rufus Buck has his own fearsome crew, including “Treacherous” Trudy Smith and Cherokee Bill, and they are not a group that knows how to lose. IMDb

Other Movies/Documentaries to consider

The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Concrete Cowboy
Candyman
Passing
Respect
King Richard
Judas & The Black Messiah
A Journal for Jordan
Fences
Sorry to Bother You
Soul
Da 5 Bloods
One Night in Miami
Miss Juneeenth
If Beale Street Could Talk

Series

All American: Beginning its fourth season on October 25, the CW sports drama—inspired by the life of former NFL player Spencer Paysinger—tells the story of Spencer James, a promising high school quarterback who transfers from school in South Crenshaw to another in Beverly Hills (moving in with the coach to boot) in order to better his chances of becoming a professional football player. Oprah Daily

Blood & Water: In this South African Netflix drama, while at a party, a teen swimming star believes she’s found her long-lost sister who was abducted at birth. Determined to figure out the truth, she transfers to the girl’s elite school, uncovering more secrets than she bargained for. Oprah Daily

Greenleaf: Though it took some time to find its footing, this religious-based OWN series, starring Lynn Whitfield, Merle Dandridge, and Keith David, finished out strong in 2020 with five seasons. Set in a Memphis megachurch, the Greenleaf family’s faith is tested as dark secrets are uncovered and drama surfaces. Oprah is also a series regular in the role of Aunt Mavis. Oprah Daily

Other TV series to consider

P-Valley
The Underground Railroad
I May Destroy You
David Makes Man
Run The World
Chewing Gum
Atlanta
Dear White People
Grown-ish
Queen Sugar
She’s Gotta Have It
Claws
The Chi
Snowfall
Power

Podcasts

Black Educators Matter: “Our goal is to share the stories of 500 Black Educators. We will celebrate the impact and achievements, learn from the lessons & challenges, and highlight the important roles that educators play in our lives.
Black Educators Matter is a nonprofit organization designed to create an ecosystem for Black educators globally. Through engagement and podcasting, we will document our stories and harness our collective power to enact change and make excellence equitable.” Spotify

Young, Black, and Opinionated: “Born from the Young, Black & Opinionated blog, the YBO podcast is for the culture! Get ready to laugh, think, and get in your feelings as host Christina Royster shares her personal opinions about faith, love, entertainment news, stories of Black excellence and everything in between.” Spotify

The Black History Buff Podcast: “The Black History Buff podcast is a fun and thrilling journey through time. Covering the full historical tapestry of the African Diaspora, you’ll hear tales covering everything from African Samurai to pistol-wielding poets. More than just a podcast, the show is a bridge that links communities throughout the African diaspora and enlightens and empowers its friends.” Spotify

Podcasts to consider:

Code Switch
Black Issue
Going Through It
Strong Black Lead
Still Processing
Black Men Can’t Jump in Hollywood
The Nod
Therapy for Black Girls
Uncivil
On She Goes
Gettin’ Grown
Sooo Many White Guys
Making
Represent
Black History for White People
Black Excellence
1619
Levar Burton Reads

Books to Read

Becoming: A memoir by the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. She was able to establish herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the US and around the world. This book is the story of her time as the First Lady of the United States, going back to her childhood on the South Side of Chicago and balancing the demands of motherhood. With honesty and wit, she describes her opportunities and challenges from both her public and private life, using her very own words. This book will inspire you and can impact you deeply.

Black Enough: This is an excellent collection of contemporary short stories. All these stories are unforgettable and a few strong stories. All of the stories in the book will focus on being young and black in America. Reflecting on their identity, ideas of blackness, traditions, relationships, and experience in various locations across the country.

Dear Martin: Nic Stone tackles American race relations in this best selling novel in a raw, captivating, and undeniably real way. Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League – but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He can’t escape the scorn of his former peers and disrespect of new classmates. Using the teaching of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers he starts to journal to Dr. King. Then driving a nice day enjoying the weather, words fly, shots are fired. Justyce and his friend are caught in the crossfire and media fallout.

Other books to consider:

Born A Crime (Memoir)
Between the World and Me (Memoir)
Men We Reaped (Memoir)
The Hate U Give (Fiction)
Homegoing (Fiction)
Silver Sparrow (Fiction)
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Autobiography)
Eloquent Rage (Non-fiction)
So You Want To Talk About Race (Non-fiction)