NEH Celebrates Black History Month

Zora Neale Hurston, photo, black & white
Photo caption
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
(February 1, 2012)

In celebration of Black History Month, the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grantees pay tribute to the contributions of African Americans to our nation and its history with numerous events and cultural programs.

Below is a list of NEH-supported events, exhibitions, and resources focusing on African American history and culture taking place around the country this February.

Television Programs:

Slavery By Another Name
Produced by Twin Cities Public Television, St. Paul, MN
PBS broadcast on February 13, 2012 at 9 PM / 8 PM CT

Slavery By Another Name is a ninety-minute primetime PBS documentary based on the 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same title by Wall Street Journal reporter Douglas Blackmon. The program recounts how in the years following the Civil War new forms of forced labor emerged in the American South keeping hundreds of thousands of African Americans in a brutal system of neo-slavery that would persist until the onset of World War II.

In addition to the national broadcast of Slavery By Another Name on February 13th on PBS, screenings of the documentary will take place in:

  • New York, NY: Sidney Hillman Foundation Screening at CUNY Graduate School
    February 2 at 6 pm
  • Albany, NY: NY State Writer’s Institute Screening at the University at Albany
    February 3 at 7 pm
  • Cleveland, OH: KeyBank Preview Screening at Karamu Theatre
    February 8 at 7 pm
  • Atlanta, GA: Coca-Cola Community Event at World of Coca-Cola
    February 9 at 5:30 pm
  • Los Angeles, CA: Pan African Film Festival
    February 11 at 6 pm
  • Fairfield, AL: United Mine Workers of America at Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church
    February 12 at 2 pm
  • Minneapolis, MN: General Mills & Black Champions Network Screening
    February 17 at 11:30 pm
  • Charlotte, NC: Levine Museum of New South/Gantt Center Screening
    February 21 at 6 pm
  • Minneapolis, MN: Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Cowles Auditorium
    February 24 at 2 pm
  • Upper Gwynnedd, PA: Merck & Co, Inc.
    February 28

The Loving Story
Produced by Augusta Films, Nancy, Buirksi, Producer
HBO broadcast on February 14, 2012 at 9 PM

The Loving Story documentary film tells the dramatic story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple living in Virginia in the 1950s, and their landmark Supreme Court Case, Loving v. Virginia, which ended state laws against interracial marriage.

In addition to the national broadcast of The Loving Story on February 14th on HBO, screenings and public programs around the documentary will take place in:

  • Caroline County, VA:  February 4th
  • Sedona, AZ: Sedona Film Festival, February 18th – 26th
  • Nyack, NY: Rivertown Film, February 22nd
  • Fayetteville, NC: Chatham Arts Sustainable Cinema, February 26th



For All The World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights

For All The World to See examines the role that visual culture played in shaping and transforming the struggle for racial equality in America from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s. Civil rights leaders and activists were often exceptionally skillful image-makers, adept at using the authority of pictures to edify, educate, and persuade.

Traveling exhibition organized by the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, TN
Jan. 12 - Aug. 20, 2012


Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience

Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience examines baseball as a reflection of race relations in the United States, looking at how the sport has influenced, and been shaped by, national identity and culture.  Photographs and baseball memorabilia evoke the story of black participation, from the integrated leagues of the nineteenth century, to the creation of the segregated Negro Leagues of the Jim Crow era, to Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the major leagues’ color barrier in 1947. 

Traveling exhibitions funded by Small Grants to Libraries awarded through the American Library Association, Chicago, IL.

February 8–March 16, 2012
Colorado State University, Pueblo Library
Pueblo, CO

February 29–April 13, 2012
Spartanburg County Public Libraries
Spartanburg, SC


Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War

Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War offers an innovative perspective on how Abraham Lincoln struggled to resolve the political and constitutional challenges posed by the outbreak of war.  It explores how he deployed the Constitution to resolve three major intertwined crises – the secession of the Southern states, abolition of slavery, and the protection of wartime civil liberties.

Traveling exhibitions funded by Small Grants to Libraries awarded through the American Library Association, Chicago, IL.

January 25–March 9, 2012
University of Florida, Smathers Libraries
Gainesville, FL

January 25–March 9, 2012
North Georgia College and State University Library Technology Center
Dahlonega, GA

Until February 17, 2012

Daphne Public Library, Daphne AL
Jacksonville Public Library, Jacksonville, FL
Cleveland Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH
Wilmington College, Wilmington, OH
Aurora University, Aurora, IL
Willmar Public Library, Willmar, MN
Rancho Cucamonga Library Services, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Lone Star College CyFair, Cypress, TX

February 29, 2012 – April 13, 2012

University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Lawton Public Library, Lawton, OK
Pace University, White Plains, NY
Medina County District Library, Medina, OH
Orion Township Public Library, Lake Orion, MI
Indiana University South Bend, Schurz Library, South Bend, IN
Community Library Network, Hayden, ID
Grant County Public Library, Milbank, SD


Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity

Wrapped in Pride explores the changing meanings of Ghanaian Kente cloth, both in Africa and the U.S.  In Africa the specific patterns woven into the cloth originally represented social identity and status, but as its use became widespread in the U.S. it acquired additional layers of meaning tied to ethnic identity and racial pride. 

Organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA
Currently at the Cab Calloway School for the Arts, Wilmington, DE until March 16, 2012


Grass Roots: African American Origins of an American Art

Grass Roots explores the complex history of basketry in the Carolinas.  The Africans imported as slaves to that part of North America wove baskets that were used in rice cultivation, and since rice was grown in the Carolinas that tradition continued.  As tourism became more important to the local economy the basket makers changed styles to meet the new demand, resulting in a vibrant artistic tradition unique that continues to define the region.

Organized by the Museum for African Art,
Currently at the Cape Fear Museum, Wilmington, NC until March 16, 2012.


Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)
Philadelphia, PA

This major traveling exhibition and catalog take a new and comprehensive look at the career of Henry Ossawa Tanner, one of the first African American artists to achieve international fame. Well-known African-American artist Faith Ringgold has written and illustrated a children’s book, Henry Ossawa Tanner: His Boyhood Dream Comes True, for the exhibition, which opened at the Philadelphia Academy of Art in January, 2012, and will travel to the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.

Exhibition runs January 28 - April 15, 2012 at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)


Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story.  Carnegie Institute Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

This is a multimedia traveling exhibition examining the work of African American photographer Teenie Harris of Pittsburgh. The exhibition examines Harris’s photographs in the context of African American culture, politics, and community life. In addition, a smaller exhibition with 120 photographs accompanied by an audio guide and interactive website will travel beginning in February 2012.

The exhibition opened at the museum October 29, 2011.  It runs through April 7, 2012.  Then exhibition will travel around the country.  It is now at the Chicago Public Library until June 4, 2012. 


Domestic Life and the Plantation Community at Jefferson’s Monticello. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.|s3=215|s4=|mp=4|tp=1

The exhibition presents the thirteen dependencies near the main house at Monticello using a combination of interpretive techniques. Through these dependencies visitors learn about the hardships of domestic life at Monticello and the people—slave and free—who accomplished the everyday work at one of America’s most consequential plantations. The restored and interpreted spaces include:  the wash room, kitchen, smokehouse, dairy, storage cellars, ice house, ware room, wine cellar, and living quarters for slaves.


Boston Black
Boston Children’s Museum

Designed to prompt discussion and dialogue about race, culture and identity, this permanent exhibition explores the cultural diversity within Boston’s black communities.


The Power of Children: Making a Difference
Indianapolis Children’s Museum

This long-term exhibition examines the lives and experiences of three children in the 20th century who have become symbols of the fight against injustice: Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White.


From Field to Factory: Afro-American Migration, 1915-1940
Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Services, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History

This exhibition interprets the complexities and effects of the Great Migration, a vast movement of more than 1 million African Americans who moved from the South to the North between 1915 and 1940 in search of a better life. It takes an in-depth look at the hardships and strengths of southern life; at the personal decisions to leave; and at city life in the North, where jobs were often menial and housing overcrowded, but where new communities and new racial pride emerged.

On-going exhibition at Smith Robertson Museum & Cultural Center, Jackson, MS


Teacher Resources:


EDSITEment, the National Endowment for the Humanities’ website of teaching and learning materials created by specialists in literature, history, and other fields in the humanities, contains numerous resources, activities, and lesson plans for teachers, students, and parents on African American authors, artists, scholars, storytellers, and historical figures.

Featured this month on EDSITEment are materials on the rise and fall of Jim Crow laws, a lesson plan on Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and “Flight to Freedom,” a new NEH-supported educational game  produced by WNET Thirteen that teaches young people about the Fugitive Slave Act and the Underground Railroad.

Media Contacts:
NEH Staff: