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Celebrate Black History Month

During the month of February, the Pioneer Library System will commemorate and celebrate Black History Month as your hometown libraries provide access to books, videos, articles, and online resources celebrating the past and present achievements of African Americans. To further aid your search for Black History Month, log on to our catalog and reserve any titles that may be of interest to you or ask your librarian. Here are some of our top picks and enjoy Black History Month.

 Coming Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis

Ada Ruth's mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. Its war time and women are needed to fill the men's jobs. As winter sets in, Ada Ruth and her grandma keep up their daily routine, missing Mama all the time. They find strength in each other, and a stray kitten even arrives one day to keep them company, but nothing can fill the hole Mama left. Every day they wait, watching for the letter that says Mama will be coming on home soon. Set during World War II, Coming On Home Soon has a timeless quality that will appeal to all who wait and hope.

Ellington was not a street by Notzake Shange

In a reflective tribute to the African-American community of old, noted poet Ntozake Shange recalls her childhood home and the close-knit group of innovators that often gathered there. These men of vision, brought to life in the majestic paintings of artist Kadir Nelson, lived at a time when the color of their skin dictated where they could live, what schools they could attend, and even where they could sit on a bus or in a movie theater. Yet in the face of this tremendous adversity, these dedicated souls and others like them not only demonstrated the importance of Black culture in America, but also helped issue in a movement that "changed the world." Their lives and their works inspire us to this day, and serve as a guide to how we approach the challenges of tomorrow. 

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952.  A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.  The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.  The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

The collected poems of Langston Hughes

Here, for the first time, are all the poems that Langston Hughes published during his lifetime, arranged in the general order in which he wrote them and annotated by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel. Alongside such famous works as "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and Montage of a Dream Deferred, The Collected Poems includes the author's lesser-known verse for children; topical poems distributed through the Associated Negro Press; and poems such as "Goodbye Christ" that were once suppressed. Lyrical and pungent, passionate and polemical, the result is a treasure of a book, the essential collection of a poet whose words have entered our common language.

Race and the University: a memoir by George Henderson

In 1967, George Henderson, the son of uneducated Alabama sharecroppers, accepted a full-time professorship at the University of Oklahoma, despite his mentor's warning to avoid the "redneck school in a backward state." Henderson became the university's third African American professor, a hire that seemed to suggest the dissolving of racial divides. However, when real estate agents in the university town of Norman denied the Henderson family their first three choices of homes, the sociologist and educator realized he still faced some formidable challenges. In this stirring memoir, Henderson recounts his formative years at the University of Oklahoma, during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He describes in graphic detail the obstacles that he and other African Americans faced within the university community, a place of "white privilege, black separatism, and campus-wide indifference to bigotry." As an adviser and mentor to young black students who wanted to do something about these conditions, Henderson found himself at the forefront of collective efforts to improve race relations at the university. Henderson is quick to acknowledge that he and his fellow activists did not abolish all vestiges of racial oppression. But they set in motion a host of institutional changes that continue to this day. In Henderson's words, "we were ordinary people who sometimes did extraordinary things." Capturing what was perhaps the most tumultuous era in the history of American higher education, Race and the University includes valuable recollections of former student activists who helped transform the University of Oklahoma into one of the nation's most diverse college campuses.

The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. DuBois

First published in 1903, this extraordinary work not only recorded and explained history; it helped alter its course. These fourteen essays contain both the academic language of sociology and the rich lyrics of African spirituals, which Du Bois called 'sorrow songs.' Civil rights leader and author, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts on February 23, 1868. He earned a B.A. from both Harvard and Fisk universities, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard, and studied at the University of Berlin. He taught briefly at Wilberforce University before he came professor of history and economics at Atlanta University in Ohio (1896-1910). There, he wrote The Souls of Black Folk (1903), in which he pointed out that it was up to whites and blacks jointly to solve the problems created by the denial of civil rights to blacks.

Lady Sings the Blues

Born as Elinore Harris, this film chronicles the rise and fall of legendary blues singer Billie Holiday. We follow her childhood, stint as a prostitute, early tours, marriages, and drug addiction to the final hours of this legendary Blues artist. Powerful performances by Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams. Also, look for Richard Pryor in the role of Piano Man. This classic film was nominated for 5 Oscars and worth every note.

The Tuskegee Airmen

The story of the 'Fighting 99th' - the first squadron of black American pilots to be allowed to fight for their country and how a group of African American pilots overcame racist opposition to become one of the finest US fighter groups in World War II. Look in the skies for Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Based on a true story.

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