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Celebrate Black History Month

The history of the United States of America cannot be told without Black history. During Black History Month we shine a spotlight on the experiences and accomplishments of Black Americans. Historian Carter G. Woodson believed sharing the accomplishments and perspective of Black Americans could help reduce prejudice and break down barriers between people. Building on this idea, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) hosted the first Black History Week in 1926. There was immediate enthusiasm and engagement in this week. Fifty years later, in 1976, President Ford announced the first month-long celebration as a time to share, listen and learn. Discover more about Black History Month.

Events & art exhibits

Big Idea: Brown v. Board 70th Anniversary series

The library is a livestream location for the following Humanities Kansas presentations:

Preschool Storytime | Tuesdays & Thursdays in Feb | 10-10:30am

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings in February Preschool Storytime will highlight Black History Month. Enjoy stories, songs and activities that encourage a love of reading and help develop kindergarten readiness skills. This program is geared for 3-5 year olds.

African American Read-In| Sat, Feb 3 | 2-5pm

African American Read-InThe National African American Read-In encourages communities to read African American books and authors. In 1990 the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English established the Read-In to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month. More than 6 million people around the world have participated in the Read-In. We are hosting a local event with the Topeka Chapter of the Links, Inc. on Sat, Feb 3 in Marvin Auditorium 2-5pm.


Our Stories: African American Topeka Before and After Brown Feb 23 - May 19

Our StoriesThis collaboration between the Black American Blueprint Collective and the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery reflects on the local impact of the landmark Brown V. Board ruling 70 years later.

Sorting Out Race March 3 - May 19

Sorting Out RaceThis exhibit examines racial identity and stereotypes in thrift store donations. Every day thrift stores receive donations of items with racial imagery — antique advertising cards, collectible salt-and-pepper shakers, vintage children’s books, and mugs with sports team mascots. Are these harmless reminders of past attitudes or do they perpetuate stereotypes about race? Should thrift stores sell these objects? Or should they be “sorted out” of the resale environment?
Sorting Out Race arose out of a desire to divert these artifacts from thrift stores to an exhibit that would generate a healthy community conversation about our continuing struggles with race. The Sorting Our Race exhibition is supported by the United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Humanities Kansas. The exhibition was created by the Kauffman Museum at Bethel College.

Learning from Gordon Parks | Tue, Feb 27 | 7-8pm

Learn about the impact and inspiration found in Parks' work. Themes of love, dignity and hard work provide a starting point to talk about his struggles and triumphs. This presentation is sponsored by Humanities Kansas. African American author, photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks was well known for his documentation of American life and culture.

The Learning TreeBorn in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912, he is one of the most esteemed image makers of all time. In this presentation, photographer Ann Dean discusses the impact and inspiration found in Parks’s books: The Learning Tree, A Choice of Weapons, and Half Past Autumn. These books help illustrate Parks’ mother’s teachings centered in love, dignity and hard work, and provide a starting point to talk about his struggles, choices and triumphs – all great life lessons for those searching to find their way in this complicated world.


YWCA Book Club

The YWCA Racial Justice Book Club meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month. Join us in person at the library or via Zoom. This month the group will read The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks and attend this Humanities Kansas event about his life and work. If you'd like more information about the YWCA Racial Justice Book Club, sign up to receive meeting details and Zoom link. Need a copy of the book? Email

Reading that celebrates Black History & experiences

Add work by Black authors to your TBR (to be read) list all year around to embrace new perspectives, learn the truth of our history and celebrate Black voices.
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