Black History Month

A month-long celebration of important figures and events in Black History.

For each day in February, we are posting information and book recommendations. Peruse the list below for our pick of the day!

February 1

Sit-ins -Greensboro, NC

“The Greensboro sit-ins were a series of nonviolent protests in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960, which led to the Woolworth department store chain removing its policy of racial segregation in the Southern United States.” – Info via Wikipedia


Book Recommendation:

Freedom on the Menu – by Carole Boston Weatherford

February 2

Ruby Bridges

“Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to attend an all-white public elementary school in the American South. Ruby Bridges (born September 8, 1954) was six when she became the first African-American child to integrate a white Southern elementary school on November 14, 1960, escorted to class by her mother and U.S. marshals due to violent mobs. Bridges’ bravery paved the way for continued Civil Rights action, and she’s shared her story with future generations in educational forums.”
Info via
Book Recommendation:
Through My Eyes – by Ruby Bridges

February 3

Blacks gain right to vote: Amendment XV gave black people the right to vote in 1870.

Book Recommendations:

Lillian’s Right to Vote – by Jonah Winter

Grandaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballotbox – by James Ransome, Michael S. Brandy & Eric Stein

February 4

Rosa Parks’ Birthday

For many, the civil right’s movement began with the arrest of Rosa Parks.


Book Recommendation:

A Picture Book of Rosa Parks – by David A. Adler

February 5

Audrey Faye Hendricks

Audrey Faye Hendricks was the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963.

“Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else.”

“Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.”


Book Recommendation:

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist – by Cynthia Levinson

February 6

Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, and their once-hidden contributions to science, aeronautics, and space exploration

“Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good.

They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.”

Book Recommendation:

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race – by Margot Lee Shetterly

February 7

John Lewis

“John Lewis was the youngest of the Big Six civil rights leaders as chairman of SNCC from 1963 to 1966, some of the most tumultuous years of the Civil Rights Movement. During his tenure, SNCC opened Freedom Schools, launched the Mississippi Freedom Summer, and organized some of the voter registration efforts during the 1965 Selma voting rights campaign. As the chairman of SNCC, Lewis had written a speech in reaction to the Civil Rights Bill of 1963. He denounced the bill because it didn’t protect African Americans against police brutality or provide African Americans with the right to vote.”

Info via Wikipedia

Book Recommendation:

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis –  by Jabari Asim

February 8

Solomon Northup

Solomon Northup, author of the autobiography Twelve Years a Slave, was a free, black citizen of New York when he was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841 and sold into slavery. For 12 years, Northup was enslaved in the South and then, finally rescued from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana in 1853. Upon returning to his family in New York in 1853, Northup published his narrative.

Unlike fictional accounts of slavery, Northup’s narrative describes the institution as he experienced it. “My object is, to give a candid and truthful statement of facts: to repeat the story of my life, without exaggeration,” Northup wrote. His story of enslavement has been authenticated by historian, Dr. Sue Eakin.

Info via National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Book Recommendation:

Chains – by Laurie Halse Anderson

February 9

Jackie Robinson

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” Jackie Robinson once said.

The impact Robinson made on Major League Baseball is one that will be forever remembered. On April 15 each season, every team in the majors celebrates Jackie Robinson Day in honor of when he truly broke the color barrier in baseball, becoming the first African-American player in the 20th century to take the field in the big leagues. He opened the door for many others and will forever be appreciated for his contribution to the game.

Info via National Baseball Hall of Fame

Book Recommendation:

Teammates – by Peter Golenbock

February 10

Raye Montague

“The girl who faced racism and sexism in the segregated South, where she rode in the back of the bus and was denied entry to a college engineering program because she was black, became an internationally registered professional engineer and shattered the glass ceiling at the Navy when she became the first female program manager of ships. She earned the civilian equivalent of the rank of captain.

In a breakthrough achievement, she also revolutionized the way the Navy designed ships and submarines using a computer program she developed in the early 1970s.”

Info via NY Times Article

Book Recommendation:

The Girl with a Mind for Math – by Julia Finley Mosca, Daniel Rieley

February 11

Octavius Catto

“A tumultuous, racially polarized Election Day in Philadelphia set the stage for the October 10, 1871, murder and martyrdom of Octavius V. Catto (b. 1839), an African American leader who struggled against segregation and discrimination in transportation, sports, politics, and society.”

Info via Philadelphia Encyclopedia

Recommended Reading:

“13 Things You Might Not Know about Octavius Catto”

February 12

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was an agricultural scientist and inventor who developed hundreds of products using peanuts (though not peanut butter, as is often claimed), sweet potatoes and soybeans. Born an African-American slave a year before the practice was outlawed, Carver left home at a young age to pursue education and would eventually earn a master’s degree in agricultural science from Iowa State University. He would go on to teach and conduct research at Tuskegee University for decades, and soon after his death his childhood home would be named a national monument — the first of its kind to honor an African American.

Info via

Book Recommendation:

In the Garden with Dr. Carver  – by Susan Grigsby

February 13

NAACP was founded

Philadelphia People of note:

  • Philadelphia Civil Rights Attorney Raymond Pace Alexander–raymond-pace

  • Cecile B Moore – President of Philadelphia NAACP in 1963–cecil-b-

Timelines of Civil Rights in Philadelphia:

February 14

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.”

Info via PBS

“Philadelphia, home of the 17th-century Quaker abolitionist movement and the city where a young Harriet Tubman found freedom, played a vital role in the Underground Railroad.”

Info via VisitPhilly


Check out the Underground Railroad Mural in Fairhill Neighborhood, featuring Harriet Tubman

Book Recommendations:

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky – by Faith Ringgold

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom – by Carole Boston Weatherford

February 15

Mae Johnson

Mae Carol Jemison (born October 17, 1956) is an American engineer, physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.

Info via Wikipedia

Mae Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama on October 17, 1956. She was the youngest of three children. The Jemison family moved to Chicago when Mae was only three. It was in Chicago that an uncle introduced her to the world of science. At a very early age, Mae developed interests in anthropology, archaeology, and astronomy that she pursued throughout her childhood. Mae Jemison enrolled at Stanford University at the age of 16 and in 1977 graduated with degrees in both chemical engineering and Afro-American studies. She received a Doctor of Medicine degree from Cornell University in 1981. Dr. Jemison has practiced medicine as a volunteer in a Cambodian refugee camp and as a medical officer with the Peace Corps in West Africa. She was working as a general practitioner in Los Angeles, California when NASA selected her and 14 others for astronaut training. Dr. Jemison completed her training as a mission specialist with NASA in 1988. In September of 1992, as a mission specialist aboard the Shuttle Endeavour, Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to enter space. In 1993, Dr. Jemison resigned from NASA and founded the Jemison Group, Inc. Among her current projects are several that focus on improving healthcare in Africa and advancing technology in developing countries.

Info via NASA


Book Recommendation:

Mae Among the Stars – by Roda Ahmed

Link to book

February 16

African American Folktales

Book Recommendations:

The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales – by Virginia Hamilton

Follow the Drinking Gourd – by Jeanette Winter

February 17

Huey P Newton’s Birthday

Huey P. Newton was an African-American activist best known for founding the Black Panther Party with Bobby Seale in 1966.

Info via Biography

Book Recommendation:

One Crazy Summer – by Rita Williams-Garcia

February 18 – President’s Day

Barack Obama

The first African American President of the United States, it’s fitting that we celebrate him on President’s Day.

Book Recommendation:

Of Thee I Sing – by Barack Obama

February 19

Jazz & Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk is one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time and one of first creators of modern jazz.

Info via Biography


Timeline of Jazz in America:

Book Recommendation:

This Jazz Manby Karen Ehrhardt

February 20

Faith Ringgold

An artist born in Harlem, Faith Ringgold played an instrumental role in the organization of protests and actions against museums that had neglected the work of women and people of color.

Info via The Guggenheim

Book Recommendation:

Tar Beach – by Faith Ringgold


See Faith’s piece, entitled Tar Beach, at

February 21

The Death of Malcolm X

Malcolm X  was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist.  He was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; others accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

Info via Wikipedia

Read more about Malcolm X on Malcolm

Book Recommendations:

Malcolm X – by Alex Haley and Malcolm X

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X – by  Ilyasah Shabazz

Link to book here

February 22

Booker T. Washington

Educator Booker T. Washington was one of the foremost African-American leaders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, founding the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now known as Tuskegee University.

Info via Biography

Book Recommendation:

More Than Anything Else – by Marie Bradby

February 23

Virginia Florence

Virginia Florence (1903-1991) was the first African American woman in the United States to earn a degree in library science.

Info via PennLive

February 24

Robert Purvis

Robert Purvis was an American Abolitionist.  He is buried at Fair Hill.

As an abolitionist, he worked hard to harbor runaway slaves, especially as a member of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, earning him the title of President of the Underground Railroad.

Visit his page on the Fair Hill Website

Visit his burial plot at Fair Hill

February 25

Harriet Forten Purvis

Harriet Forten Purvis was a founding member of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, and for many years the chief organizer of the annual Anti-Slavery Bazaars held in Philadelphia to raise money for the cause. She was also a supporter of the women’s rights movement.

Visit her page on the Fair Hill Website

Visit her burial plot at Fair Hill

February 26

Jupiter Hammon

Jupiter Hammon was the first published African American poet.

Recommended Reading:

Read Jupiter Hammon’s Poem,  An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley

February 27

James Derham

James Derham was the first black person to formally practice medicine in the United States.

Info via PhilaSun

February 28

The New Civil Rights Leaders

LA Times Article:

The new civil rights leaders: Emerging voices in the 21st century


Global Citizen Article:

9 Black Activists Who Are Fighting Injustice And Fixing America: They’re shaping the future.