At Lauren Simone Publishing House, we celebrate Black history every single day when we celebrate our authors, illustrators, graphic artists, editors, book sellers, and publishers. But every February, the U.S. celebrates Black History month.
Why do we celebrate Black history month? Black history month honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who helped shape the nation. Carter G. Woodson, the "father of Black history," who first set out in 1926 to designate a time to promote and educate people about Black history and culture. February was chosen primarily because the second week of the month coincides with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Lincoln was influential in the emancipation of slaves, and Douglass, a former slave, was a prominent leader in the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery. Though Woodson created Negro History Week around the two birthdays as a way of "commemorating the black past,"
Black History Month is about celebrating all the great accomplishments of
- Authors and Poets (e.g. Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurton, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Ralph Ellison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Eric Jerome Dickey, Audre Lorde, Gwendolyn Brooks, Phillis Wheatley)
- Actors (Sidney Poitier, Angela Bassett, Jamie Foxx, Whoopi Goldberg, Wanda Sykes, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Halley Berry, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis)
- Artists (e.g., Jimmy Walker, Kara Walker, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Kehinde Wiley, Raith Ringgold, Angela Johnson, Walter Dean Myers, James W Washington, Barkley L Hendricks, Jack Whitten, Laura Wheeler Waring, Beverly Buchanan)
- Athletes (e.g., Alice Coachman, Willye White, Jessie Owens, Jackie Robinson, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Simone Biles, Wilma Rudolph, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Usain Bolt, Shelly-ann Fraser-Pryce, Muhammad Ali, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Gabby Douglas, Simone Manual, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Zina Garrison, Debi Thomas, Dominique Dawes, Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie, Vonetta Flowers, Lia Neal)
- Comedians (e.g., Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Bernie Mac, Chris Tucker, Kevin Hart, Charlie Murphy, Dick Gregory, Arsenio Hall)
- Dancers (e.g., Alvin Ailey)
- Educators (e.g., Angela Davis, Booker T Washington, bell hooks, Nikki Giovanni)
- Freedom Fighters (e.g., Annie Lee Cooper, Bayard Rustin, Claudette Colvin, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Dorothy Height, Ruby Bridges, Ella Baker)
- Lawyers (e.g., Jane Bolin)
- Media Moguls (e.g., Oprah Winfrey, Robert Sengstacke Abbott, Gordon Parks)
- Military (e.g. Benjamin O Davis, Sr. )
- Models and Pageant winners (e.g., Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell
- Musicians (e.g. Minnie Riperton, Ethel Waters, Bob Marley, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Prince, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Nina Simone, Muddy Waters, Duke Ellington, BB King, Sam Cooke, Miles Davis, Diana Ross, John Coltrane, Whitney Houston, Lauren Hill, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé)
- Politicians (e.g., Shirley Chisholm, President Barack Obama)
- Playwright (e.g. August Wilson)
- Producers (e.g., Maria Williams, Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, Tyler Perry, Ryan Coogle, John Singleton, Will Packer, Ice Cube, Forest Whitaker, Jordan Peele, Will Smith, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Lee Daniels, Shonda Rhimes, Lena Waithe, Regina King, Issa Rae, Oprah Winfrey)
- Scientists or Science experiments (e.g., Charles Henry Turner, Gladys West, Percy Lavon Julian, Sophia B Jones, Elijah McCoy, Alie Ball, Mae Jemison, Henrietta Lacks, Dr Rebecca Lee Crumpler)
But why? Because black people have been enduring discrimination since they arrived to the shores of the US and despite it all they still break barriers and set world records. Did you recognize all the names? If not, you see why we have to continue to celebrate and showcase.
Every year there is a theme. Visit the Davenport library to learn more. This year's theme, Black Health and Wellness, pays homage to medical scholars and health care providers (.g., birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.). The theme is especially timely as we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected minority communities and placed unique burdens on Black health care professionals (NPR, 2022).
"There's never been a time where Black people and others should not celebrate Black history," Broussard said. "Given the current racial climate, the racial reckoning that began in wake of George Floyd's murder ... this is an opportunity to learn."
Join us on Instagram as we celebrate black history month and recommend black children’s books.