Let’s Celebrate Black History!

Posted about 6 months ago by Meldon Jenkins-Jones

Let’s celebrate Black History at the Richmond Public Library! The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) Black History Month theme for 2024 is “African Americans and the Arts”. Artists from the African Diaspora have used their talents to preserve Black history and to propel us into the future through many cultural movements. 

The New Negro Movement popularized as the Harlem Renaissance featured an exciting array of creators some of whom are known today. Richmond Public Library has books by and about a number of them such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston as well as some that you may never have heard of. Check out Alain Locke’s The New Negro and The New Negro: Readings on Race, Representation, and African American Culture, 1892-1938 edited by Henry Louis Gates. Musicians such as Ethel Waters, Duke Ellington, and Josephine Baker, are featured in Jazz: My Music, My People by Morgan Monceaux. Several books about Richmond native Bill “Bojangles” Robinson are available at our library including the children’s picture book Rap a Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles Think of That! by Leo Dillon.

Hip Hop music originated with such artists as The Last Poets, Tupac Shakur, Run-DMC, and Queen Latifah. You can listen to some of your favorite stars or read their books including Queen Latifah’s Put on your Crown: Life-changing Moments on the Path to Queendom. Multiple copies of Tupac Shakur’s ever-popular The Rose that Grew from Concrete are also available. Just order through your local branch. 

Afrofuturism seems to be growing in popularity. (See https://news.artnet.com/art-world-archives/afrofuturism-now-2263014). It includes sci-fi novelists Octavia Butler, N. K. Jemisin, author Walter Mosley, musicians Parliament-Funkadelic, and Marvel Comics superhero Black Panther. All these creatives are represented on the shelves of our library. 

Looking for something live and in person? Richmond Public Library has it! We’ll kickoff the month with a Keynote Call to Action by the inventor of The Entrepreneur Game, Toastmaster Elliott Eddie on Saturday, Feb. 3rd at noon. Experience Black History Month up close and personal when local spoken word artists such as Jamil Jasey, Frederick Douglass reenactor Nathan Richardson, and poet Sharran Taylor come to our Hull Street Branch. Novelists such as Rebekah L. Pierce, fantasy and sci-fi author Jacqueline Johnson, Urban Fiction dynamo Terrie L. ”Boss Lady” Branch and more will also visit throughout February 2024. 

For a complete lineup of fun activities and authors during Black History Month at Richmond Public Library, pick up a copy of our “What’s Happening” brochure at your local branch or visit https://rvalibrary.org/events/black-history-month/


Image credit: “On the Beach” (1935-1943) by Victor Laredo (American, 20th Century)

Meldon Jenkins-Jones

Meldon Jenkins-Jones, Hull Street Library/Community Services Manager, had been the Law Librarian of the Richmond Public Law Library from 2013 thru July 2022. She is the first recipient of the Virginia Library Association's Librarian of Color Forum Award in 2021. She is a Graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond, Class of 2022. She received her Master of Science degree in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University. Meldon spends her free time with family and writing inspirational stories and her memoirs.

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Let’s celebrate Black History through the arts at the Richmond Public Library!