February is Black History Month The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.
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Beginning Feb. 10, 2023, the museum will present a second group of portraits from Brian Lanker's 1989 book project “I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America.” The Portrait Gallery recently acquired all 75 portraits from the Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer's series and this exhibition features portraits of women who have made significant contributions to the arts, activism, literature, politics, and sports, among other disciplines.
More about the exhibition
Image Credit: “Althea Gibson” by Brian Lanker. Gelatin silver print, 1988. National Portrait Gallery. Partial gift of Lynda Lanker and museum purchase made possible with support from Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker, Agnes Gund, Kate Kelly and George Schweitzer, Lyndon J. Barrois Sr. and Janine Sherman Barrois, and Mark and Cindy Aron. © Brian Lanker Archive
This exhibition at National Museum of African American History and Culture looks at the ways in which visual art has long provided its own protest, commentary, escape and perspective for African Americans. It utilizes Smithsonian Hi—a digital museum guide experience that allows visitors to engage with museum objects using their personal mobile devices. Visitors can use Hi to learn more about objects on view in the Museum's galleries and stories that connect them through video, audio, image and text features.
Image credit: National Museum of African American History and Culture
More than 400 years of Black history and heritage are preserved in national parks and communities around the country. Discover stories shared by people who formed powerful connections with these places of history, nature, and enjoyment. Inspire others by sharing your “park story”!
Image credit: Girl takes photo in front of the “We Can Do It” sign at Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park (NPS)
In the middle of the 20th century, the United States was rocked by a nationwide movement for equal rights for African Americans and for an end to the racial segregation and exclusion that had been enforced by law and by practice throughout the Jim Crow era. To help your students analyze these primary sources, you can a graphic organizer and guides from the Analysis Tool and Guides section.
Image credit: New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)
Put the power of primary sources to work in the classroom. Browse ready-to-use lesson plans,
student activities, collection guides and research aids.
Educational Resources »
Image credit: “Frederick Douglass appealing to President Lincoln and his cabinet to enlist Negroes,”
mural by William Edouard Scott, at the Recorder of Deeds building, built in 1943. 515 D St., NW, Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress)
2023 Event Highlights
Throughout the month of February
This small, curated display explores how African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression—in many forms—from America's earliest days into the 21st century. Items featured are from the Rare Book and Special Collections, Manuscript, and Prints and Photographs Divisions.
(Library of Congress)
Documentary Film and Discussion
Through the African American Lens: Afrofuturism: The Origin Story – A Smithsonian Channel Documentary
In support of NMAAHC's newest exhibition, Afrofuturism - A History of Black Futures, the public programs department will present the Afrofuturism: The Origin Story documentary produced by the Smithsonian Channel. This film features insights from renowned scholar and artist Ytasha Womack with Kevin Strait, NMAAHC curator of the Afrofuturism exhibition, and contributor to its companion collection of essays.
(National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Online Research Seminar
African Americans in Business: Doing Historical Company Research
Explore historical company research through the 2023 Black History Month theme of “Resistance,” featuring historic Black barbers who resisted the status quo by supporting black education and civil rights movements. Led by Business Reference and Research Specialists, we plan on covering print and electronic sources – both free and subscription – as well as giving a few tips and tricks picked up over the years. This event will take place over Zoom. Online registration is free at the link above.
(Library of Congress)
Online Book Discussion
Art AfterWords: A Book Discussion
The National Portrait Gallery and the DC Public Library would like to invite you to a robust conversation about gender, social movements, and protest music. Join us as we analyze a portrait of human rights activist and musical artist Odetta and discuss the related Smithsonian Folkways Recording, “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs 1960-1966” by various artists.
(National Portrait Gallery)
Live! At the Library: African American Folk Music with Jake Blount
A powerfully gifted musician and a scholar of Black American music, Jake Blount speaks ardently about the African roots of the banjo and the subtle, yet profound ways African Americans have shaped and defined the categories of roots music and Americana. This event is free, but tickets are required. They are available via the link above.
(Library of Congress)