On This Day in Black History: Book List

This list highlights children’s books connected to African American people who were born or died in the month of February and to historical events that occurred in that month. More information about many of these books can be found on our Teaching Books website.

February 1, 1902 — It is believed that famous Black American poet Langston Hughes (born James Mercer Langston Hughes) was born this day in Joplin, Missouri.

  • Langston Hughes by S. L. Berry Explores the life and work of Hughes
  • Coming Home: From the Life of Langston Hughes, by Floyd Cooper — A book about Langston Hughes’ childhood
  • Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel — A brief profile of African American poet Langston Hughes accompanies some of his better-known poems for children
  • The Block, collage by Romare Bearden, poems by Langston Hughes — A collection of 13 Langston Hughes poems on Harlem and African American themes, using details from Romare Bearden’s “The Block” to illustrate the poems
  • That Is My Dream!: A picture book of Langston Hughes’s ”Dream Variation”, illustrated  by Daniel Miyares — Poem about the dream of a world free of discrimination and racial prejudice
  • I, Too, Am America, by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier — Poem highlighting the courage and dignity of the African American Pullman porters in the early 20th century
  • Visiting Langston, by Willie Perdomo and illustrated by Bryan Collier — Poem celebrating Langston Hughes
  • Langston Hughes, American Poet, by Alice Walker, paintings by Catherine Deeter

February 1, 1960 — Four Black college students staged a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C.

  • Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins, by Carole Boston Weatherford, paintings by Jerome Lagarrigue — Seen through the eyes of a young Southern Black girl, this is a fictional  account of the 1960 civil rights sit-ins at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina

February 1, 1978 — The United States Postal Service issued a Harriet Tubman stamp.

  • Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent: How Daring Slaves and Free Blacks Spied for the Union during the Civil War, by Thomas B. Allen
  • Harriet Tubman, by Robin S. Doak — A brief biography from Scholastic True Books
  • The Underground Abductor: An Abolitionist Tale (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, Book 5), by Nathan Hale — Graphic novel about Harriet Tubman
  • Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman, by Alan Schroeder, pictures by Jerry Pinkney
  • Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

February 3, 1903 — Jack Johnson won the World Colored Heavyweight Championship, becoming the first Black Heavyweight Champion.

  • Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson, by Charles R. Smith, Jr., illustrated by Shane W. Evans — A picture book biography of boxer Jack Johnson

February 4, 1913 — Rosa Parks (born Rosa Louise McCauley) was born on this day in Tuskegee, Alabama.

  • The Story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Photographs, by David Aretha — Examines the Montgomery Bus Boycott through primary source photographs, including Rosa Parks’ role in the effort
  • Rosa, by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier — A picture book biography. eBook and audiobook available from Los Angeles Public Library. Weston Woods animated story version available on BookFlix, password required
  • Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, by Karen Latchana Kenney — A brief history of the civil rights movement in America, including the Montgomery bus boycott and Rosa Parks’ role in helping to abolish segregation on busses
  • I Am Rosa Parks, by Rosa Parks, with Jim Haskins
  • Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation, by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrations by Brian Pinkney
  • Rosa Parks, by Christine Taylor-Butler — A brief biography from Scholastic True Books, available online from TrueFlix, password required

February 4, 1986 – The United States Postal Service issued a Sojourner Truth stamp.

  • Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman?, by Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick McKissack
  • Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride, by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
  • Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth, by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
  • So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom,by Gary D. Schmidt, illustrated by Daniel Minter

February 5, 1934 – Legendary baseball player Hank Aaron (Henry Louis Aaron) was born in Mobile, Alabama.

  • Hank Aaron: Brave in Every Way, by Peter Golenbock, illustrated by Paul Lee
  • Henry Aaron’s Dream, by Matt Tavares

February 5, 1990 – Barack Obama became the first Black man named president of the Harvard Law Review.

  • Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope, by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Bryan Collier
  • Change Has Come, An Artist Celebrates Our American Spirit, the drawings of Kadir Nelson, with the words of Barack Obama — Black and white images accompany words by Barack Obama that celebrate the power of inspiration and pride, hope and joy in the future

Feb. 7, 1926 – Negro History Week, originated by Carter G. Woodson, is observed for the first time.

  • Carter G. Woodson: The Man Who Put “Black” in American History, by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson, illustrated by Melanie Reim
  • Carter G. Woodson: The Father of Black History, by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, illustrated by Ned O. Hillside

February 9, 1906 — Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first poet to use Black dialect in his verse, died at the age of 33.

  • Jump Back, Honey: The Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar, selected and with an introduction by Ashley Bryan and Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrations by Ashley Bryan

Feb. 9, 1944 – Novelist Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, was born in Eatonton, Georgia.

  • There Is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me, by Alice Walker, illustrations by Stefano Vitale

February 9, 1965 – Martin Luther King Jr. met with President Johnson to discuss Black voting rights.

  • Because They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights that Changed America, by Russell Freedman
  • I Have a Dream, by Martin Luther King, Jr., paintings by Kadir Nelson
  • Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Doreen Rappaport, illustrations by Bryan Collier  — Weston Woods animated story version available on BookFlix, password required

Feb. 9, 1971 – Leroy “Satchel” Paige is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • Satchel Paige, by Lesa Cline-Ransom, paintings by James E. Ransome — Audiobook available from Los Angeles Public Library
  • Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio, by Robert Skead, illustrations by Floyd Cooper
  • Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, by James Sturm and Rich Tommaso — A graphic novel

Feb 10, 1927 – Leontyne Price, who became an internationally acclaimed opera singer, was born in Laurel, Miss.

  • Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century, by Carole Boston Weatherford

Feb. 10, 1964 – After 12 days of debate and voting on 125 amendments, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by a vote of 290–130.

  • Let the Children March, by Monica Clark-Robinson, illustrated by Frank Morrison

Feb. 11, 1990 – Nelson Mandela, leader of the movement for democracy in South Africa, was released from a South African prison after being detained for 27 years as a political prisoner.

  • Grandad Mandela, by Zindzi Mandela, illustrated by Sean Qualls
  • Nelson Mandela, words and paintings by Kadir Nelson

February 13, 1920 – The Negro National League, the first Black professional baseball league, was founded at a YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri, by a coalition of team owners and led by Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Andrew “Rube” Foster.

  • The Negro Leagues: Celebrating Baseball’s Unsung Heroes, by Matt Doeden
  • We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, words and paintings by Kadir Nelson, foreword by Hank Aaron
  • Negro League Scrapbook, by Carole Boston Weatherford, foreword by Buck O’Neil

Feb. 14, 1817 – Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery and led a movement to abolish it, chose Valentine’s Day to celebrate his birthday because he liked the traditions celebrated on the day.

  • A Picture Book of Frederick Douglass, by David A. Adler, illustrated by Samuel Byrd
  • Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass, by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome
  • Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History, by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
  • Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass, by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by London Ladd
  • Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass, by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

February 14, 1946 – Gregory Hines, considered one of the greatest tap dancers of all time, was born. Hines inspired younger tap dancers such as Savion Glover to keep the art form in the spotlight.

  • Savion!: My Life in Tap, by Savion Glover and Bruce Weber, foreword by Gregory Hines

Feb. 15, 1848 – Sarah C. Roberts, a 5-year-old African American girl, was barred from an all-white school in Boston. Her father, Benjamin Roberts, filed the first school integration suit on her behalf.

  • The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial, by Susan E. Goodman, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Feb. 16, 1974 — Actor Mahershala Ali was born. Ali won two Academy Awards, for his roles in the films Moonlight and Green Book. Green Book was named for a directory that told African Americans and other non-white people which restaurants and hotels were safe for them to eat at and stay in when they were in segregated towns.

  • Ruth and the Green Book, by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, with Gwen Strauss, illustrations by Floyd Cooper

February 17, 1902 — Famed opera singer Marian Anderson was born. In 1939, during the age of segregation, she was prevented by the Daughters of the Revolution from performing at their venue, Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and President Franklin Roosevelt arranged for her to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

  • The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights, by Russell Freedman
  • Marian Anderson, by James Meadows
  • When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson, by Pam Muñoz Ryan, illustrations by Brian Selznick

Feb. 17, 1963 — Michael Jeffrey Jordan, considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, was born in New York, N.Y.

  • Jump!: From the Life of Michael Jordan, by Floyd Cooper — eBook available from Los Angeles Public Library
  • For the Love of the Game: Michael Jordan and Me, by Eloise Greenfield, illustrations by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
  • Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream, by Deloris Jordan with Roslyn M. Jordan, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

February 17, 1982 — On this day, jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk died at the age of 65.

  • Mysterious Thelonious, by Chris Raschka

February 19, 1942 — The Tuskegee Airmen were initiated into the U.S. armed forces as the first African American pilots to fly in World War II. The Tuskegee Airmen trained in Tuskegee, Alabama, where Jim Crow laws meant that Black and white troops were segregated.

  • Red-tail Angels: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
  • You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jeffery Boston Weatherford

February 21, 1965 — Activist Malcolm X was assassinated at the age of 39 in New York City.

  • Malcolm X: A fire burning brightly, by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins
  • Betty Before X, by Ilyasah Shabazz, with Renée Watson

February 22, 1888 — Legendary painter Horace Pippin was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

  • Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, written by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
  • Starting Home: The Story of Horace Pippin, Painter, by Mary E. Lyons

February 25, 1964 — Muhammad Ali became heavyweight champion, defeating the heavily favored Sonny Liston in six rounds.

  • Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali, by Charles R. Smith Jr.,  illustrated by Bryan Collier
  • Muhammad Ali: Champion of the World, written by Jonah Winter, illustrated by François Roca