Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month at Your Library!

This Black History Month, Your Library is hosting a series of events to help you Explore, Connect, and Grow!

From storytime to crafts to historial lectures, we've got something for you and your loved ones. All our events are free and open to the public. 

Check out all our events. 

Questions? Contact us.


Saturday Children’s Story Hourcover for "Freedom on the Menu" book by Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford in Freedom on the Menu, recalls the bravery of four young African American students at North Carolina A&T College in Greensboro. They sat down at a “whites only” lunch counter on February 1, 1960 and requested to be served. Their bold action ignited a protest movement across the country to end racially segregated public eating facilities.

Saturday, February1 - 11am-12pm
African American Museum & Library at Oakland
Keywords: storytime, story hour, children, kids, parents, caregivers, civil rights, 1960s, segregation, AAMLO, American history, Black history, African American history, Black authors



30th Annual African American Poets & Their Poetry Celebrationpoet Phyllis Wheatly black & white illustration

Please join us for the 30th Annual Celebration of African American Poets and Their Poetry. This year's theme (in accordance with theme of the Association of the Study of African American Life and History) is 400 Years of African American History. We also want to include and highlight this year the contributions of American born Africans in California like Ms. Delilah Beasley, journalist and author of the essay Slavery in CaliforniaCommunity members of all ages are invited to participate by reading poetry, performing, dancing, or/and displaying works of art. If you're interested in being featured in this program, please call 510-238-7352. For those interested in the featured program please send work for consideration by 1/24/20 to the West Oakland Branch Library. There will be a rehearsal on 1/25/20 10am - 12pm. You can also sign up for the open mic at the program. We are also encouraging Poetry Celebration veterans and new participants to contribute to the 30th Anniversary Anthology. Deadline is February 1st. Light refreshments will be served.

Saturday, February 1 - 1pm-4pm @ West Oakland Branch
Keywords: African American poets, Black poets, African American history, Black history, BHM, American History, literature, poetry, all ages, art, culture, family, learning, West Oakland, open mic



Anti-Displacement and Art Workshop // Taller de Arte y Anti-Desplazamientoold map of Oakland, CA

What makes a neighborhood and how can we shape it? Join us for an afternoon of neighborhood history and zine making focused on anti-gentrification. Taught by local educator Ken Eby-Gomez. Free, ages 12 to 20. In collaboration with Self Help Graphics & Art and The California Endowment

Saturday, February 1 - 1pm-5pm @ César E. Chávez Branch
Keywords: Fruitvale, gentrification, Oakland history, crafts, teens, young adults, youth



African American Quest for the Right to Voteheadshot of Oscar C. Wright, retired Oakland educator

Learn about the African American Quest for the Right to Vote from the perspective of retired Oakland educator Oscar C. Wright. A nonagenarian, Wright also shares insights about the profound social changes resulting from the modern day Civil Rights Movement.

Saturday, February 1 - 2pm-4pm African American Museum & Library at Oakland
Keywords: AAMLO, Civil Rights Movement, American history, Black history, African American history, voting, social history, social movements




RJOY Elder CircleLakeview Branch of the Oakland Public Library near Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

Elder circle is a weekly gathering for community members to share wisdom in a restorative space. Elder's Circles are an embodied experience that can feature anything from deep breathing and music to movement and the infusion of African Spirituality through ritual.

Mondays - 1pm-2pm Lakeview Branch
Keywords: elders, restorative justice, restorative practice, Lake Merritt, African Spirituality, seniors



House of Samba KidsSamba dance class for children featuring Master Percussionist James Henry

Master percussionist James Henry will delight all with his music. Join us for a fun-filled musical event.

Monday, February 3 - 1pm Eastmont Branch
Tuesday, February 4 - 11:30am @ Main Library
Thursday, February 13 - 10 am @ West Oakland Branch
Saturday, February 15 - 2pm @ César E. Chávez Branch
Keywords: East Oakland, Eastmont, Lake Merritt, Downtoan Oakland, West Oakland, Fruitvale, Samba, Samba Kids, percussion, culture, music, James Henry, kids, children, family, caregivers, caretakers



The African-American Multimedia Conference logoAfrican-American Multimedia Conference Presents: Self-Publishing Workshops

Join writer or organizer of the African-American Multimedia Conference Sumiko Saulson for a three-part series on self-publishing:

  1. Finishing Your Manuscript
  2. Preparing Book Interiors
  3. Exteriors, Covers and Ads

Monday, February 3, 10, 24 - 5pm-7pm Eastmont Branch
Keywords: East Oakland, Eastmont, Black authors, African American authors, writing, writers, self-publishing, workshop, adults, teens


Black History Read-In & Culture FestCalifa

Join OPL staff, community artists, and historians as we celebrate African American History Month with a day full of engaging, creative, multi-generational programming. All events are free and are wheechair accessible. Light refreshments will be served at 5pm. All events are free and open to the public! 

Tuesday, February 4 - 10:15am-7:30pm Main Library
Keywords: Lake Merritt, Downtown Oakland, culture, American history, Black History, African American history, art, history, family, kids, children, teens, adults, parents, caregivers, caretakers



African American Oakland, 1915-1965vintage black and white image of three Black men sitting in chairs

Oakland History Center librarian Dorothy Lazard will present a talk on the growth of Oakland’s African American community during a period of enormous change in the city. She will share stories of the political and cultural movers and shakers who helped establish Oakland as one of California’s most progressive cities. A slide show will accompany this presentation.

Wednesday, February 5 - 6pm-7:30pm Main Library
Keywords: Lake Merritt, Downtown Oakland, culture, American history, Black History, African American history, Oakland history, Oakland History Center





Documentary Film Series: Chisholm 72: Unbought and Unbossed Unbought and Unbossed

Join us at the Dimond Branch for a series of documentary films on Wednesday evenings. Snacks will be provided and a brief discussion will follow each film. February's film is Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed, a documentary about Brooklyn Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and her 1972 campaign for the the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Wednesday, February 5 - 6pm-8pm Dimond Branch
Keywords: Dimond district, politics, Shirley Chisholm, films, documentaries, Fruitvale





Art Talk - Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983painting by Barbara Jones-Hogu

This Art Talk brings the de Young museum's exhibit Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983 to you! The internationally acclaimed exhibition, organized by Tate Modern, celebrates art made by Black artists during two pivotal decades when issues of race and identity dominated and defined both public and private discourse. The de Young’s exhibit includes a focus on Bay Area artists whose work promoted personal and cultural pride, collective solidarity and empowerment, and political and social activism. This multi-media presentation will delve into highlights of the show. You can visit the exhibit at the de Young for free on January 11 and February 8
Image: Barbara Jones-Hogu, "Unite" (detail), 1971. Screenprint. Estate of Barbara Jones-Hogu, Courtesy of Lusenhop Fine Art

Wednesday, February 5 - 6:30pm Rockridge Branch
Keywords: Rockridge, North Oakland, art, de Young, Black artists, art, culture, Bay Area history



Black Fright Flicksfilm poster for Blacula (1972)

African American actors, directors and screen writers have contributed to the American Horror Film genre for decades. This month join us as we enjoy some classics (and cult classics) of Black horror films from the 1970s to the 2000s. 

  • February 6th: Blacula, 1972 (Rated PG)
  • February 13th: Tales From The Hood, 1995
  • February 20: Bones, 2001
  • February 27th: Vampire in Brooklyn, 1995

Please note: All movies shown are rated R (except Blacula). You are welcome to bring your own snacks and refreshments.

Thursday, February 6, 13, 20, 27 - 3:30pm Eastmont Branch
Keywords: films, American horror, cult classics, Black horror films, Eastmont, East Oakland, older teens, adults, teens



Black Panther Party Legacy Event: Honoring the Women of the BPPBlack Panter Party logo (black panther on the prowl)

With guest speakers, film screening and a Black Panther Party History Exhibit. Sponsored by the West Oakland Library and It's About Time Archives. For more information call 916-455-0908. 

Saturday, February 8 - 2pm-4pm West Oakland Branch
Keywords: West Oakland, Black Panther Party, Black history, American history, film, conversation, women, Civil Rights, BPP




Who's Your Neighbor?: Creating Community at the Library, Family Drum Circle

Join us for the first program of a five part series called Who's Your Neighbor?: Creating Community at the Library. You'll learn a song, dance and drum rhythm during this afternoon drum circle led by Rosetta Saunders. Children 8 and older are welcome to join the circle. Rosetta Saunders, is a retired educator/historian having taught People of Colors history in the United States. She has studied West African and Afro-Cuban drumming for the past twenty years and is currently facilitating drum circles for health, healing and joy! This event is made possible by the Friends of the Oakland Public Library.

Saturday, February 8 - 2pm-3:30pm Dimond Branch
Keywords: music, drum circle, adults, teens, youth, African Diaspora, FOPL




Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites During the Jim Crow Era African American Leisure Sites During the Jim Crow Era

Join our Meet the Author session to journey with historian and heritage conservation consultant Alison R. Jefferson, Ph.D., in a Powerpoint presentation based on her new book, Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era. A question and answer period, book signing, and light refreshments follow the presentation.

Saturday, February 8 - 2pm-4pm African American Museum & Library at Oakland
Keywords: Meet the Author, Black authors, American history, Black History, African American history, Jim Crow, AAMLO, Downtown Oakland



Make A Quilt Square - Celebrate Black History Monthclip are of a quilt in progress

Celebrate Black History Month by making a quilt square.  Community members may each contribute to our 2020 Community Quilt - squares will be sown together and then hung in the library.  Supplies provided.  For all ages. 
West Oakland - The African American Quilt Guild is hosting its Annual Demonstration and Workshop. Supplies will be provided so that you can make your own quilt. For all levels and ages!
Melrose - Community members may each contribute to our 2020 Community Quilt - squares will be sown together and then hung in the library

Saturday, February 8 - 2pm-4pm Melrose Branch
Saturday, February 22 - 1pm-3pm @ West Oakland Branch
Keywords: Black history, quilting, East Oakland, West Oakland, quilts, crafts, art, culture, all ages, DIY, maker, sewing



Golden Gate After Hours: Celebrating African American Neighborhood Historyvintage image of Ruth and Eugeme Lasatemay

Join us for a unique Thursday evening ‘after-hours’ at the Golden Gate Library! Enjoy a special presentation celebrating the seminal work of Ruth and Eugene Lasartemay, one of the founding families of the East Bay Negro Historical Society (EBNHS). Did you know that the collections of this groundbreaking group were housed here at the Golden Gate Branch? These materials now live at AAMLO, where presenter, historian Susan Anderson, served as interim curator. Experience the Golden Gate Library Local Collection, a new place-based reference series, in specially designed reading chairs crafted from repurposed library furniture. Explore neighborhood stories in larger than life photo and text prints installed on library windows, hallways and even the elevator. Contribute your neighborhood memory to the project’s growing collection of community stories. Enjoy local music from the library's collection provided by Leo Mercer, organizer of  The MERCER BrotherhoodMeet your neighbors, learn about the community, and enjoy organic snacks by Phat Beets, North Oakland’s food justice organization. This special celebration is part of the library’s programming in honor of African American History month.

Thursday, February 13 - 6pm-7:30pm Golden Gate Branch
Keywords: Black history, African American history, North Oakland, Commons Archives, EBNHS, BHM, community





African American Read-In for FamiliesAfrican American Read-In logo

Come read books celebrating African American children and families as part of the National African American Read-In. Books will be on display for families to enjoy together, for ages 0-12. The National African American Read-In is the nation’s first and oldest event dedicated to diversity in literature. It was established in 1990 by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month. More than 6 million people around the world have participated in the Read-In!

Saturday, February 15 - 10am-4pm West Oakland Branch
Keywords: Black history, African American history, children, kids, parents, caregivers, caretakers, diverse literature, literacy



Storyteller Kirk WallerStoryteller Kirk Waller holding a banjo by a large tree

Join us for storyteller Kirk Waller, who will be telling both well-known and unknown stories. You’ll love his engaging and musical storytelling style. This is an event the whole family will enjoy. Local storyteller Kirk Waller is winner of the National Storytelling Network's JJ Reneaux Emerging Artist Award, and winner of Parent's Choice Gold for his CD, "But Why?" His stories are also found on Amazon's "Story Party.”

Saturday, February 15 - 2pm Elmhurst Branch
Keywords: storytelling, kids, children, East Oakland, family, caregivers, caretakers, music, stories




African American Multimedia Conference: Panels, Workshop, and AwardsAfrican American Multimedia Conference logo

The event will include workshops and panel discussions related to African American media arts inclusive of video, music, audio, gaming, animation, vblogging and podcasting. Mission Statement: To ensure that both individual artists and community arts organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Black Community in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Vallejo and other cities are empowered with the tools they need to tell their stories, and that San Francisco Bay Area Black Voices not be silenced. To achieve this, we work to foster within our community the creation and exhibition of works, music, film, video, and digital arts conveying the African American personal and community experience. To encourage through training, consulting, and exhibition programs African American participation in multimedia: film/video, music/audio, and animation; create works in the media arts, and assist media artists with disabilities.

Saturday, February 15 - 2pm-5pm Melrose Branch
Keywords: Black creatives, African American arts, culture, workshops, panels, East Oakland, Melrose

Black History Cinema: Spider-man Into the Spider-Verse

Come to the Lakeview Library to watch Spiderman: Into the SpiderverseWe'll enjoy popcorn andscreenshot from the Spiderman Into the Spiderverse snacks.

Saturday, February 15 - 3pm-5pm Lakeview Branch
Keywords: kids, teens, children, Spiderman, movies, films, Lake Merritt





Negro League Baseball in the East BayTeam portrait of Berkeley-based California Eagles

The East Bay had a number of Negro League Baseball teams including the Oakland Larks and the Berkeley-based California Eagles. The Oakland History Center presents master storyteller Ben Tucker, a member of Stagebridge storytelling troupe, who will share exciting stories from the heyday of Negro League Baseball. Mr. Tucker will have copies of his sports memoir, A Good Run, on sale at this event.

Wednesday, February 19 - 6pm-7:30pm Main Library
Keywords: Oakland History Center, Oakland history, Negro League Baseball, Black history, sports, baseball, Berkeley, Ben Tucker, books, book talk, Black authors, BHM, sports history



Get Crafty with art inspired by Alma Thomas and Odili Donald Odita! Bright colorful circular art inspired by Alma Thomas and Odili Donald Odita

Join us for a crafty afternoon in the TeenZone!  We will be getting inspired by two African American artists and making our own art.  All materials provided.  For youth ages 12 to 18.

Thursday, February 20 - 3pm West Oakland Branch
Wednesday, February 26, 3pm @ Rockridge Branch
Keywords: crafts, art, DIY, teens, TeenZone, Black artists, African American artists, West Oakland, North Oakland, Rockridge



Black History Cinema: Harriet (2019) Film ScreeningFilm poster for Harriet

Come celebrate Black history month with us by watching the incredible true story of Harriet Tubman, and her quest to lead hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Snacks will be provided but feel free to bring something to share! Rated PG-13

Saturday, February 22 - 2:30pm Lakeview Branch
Keywords: Lake Merritt, films, movies, BHM, teens, adults, Harriet Tubman, Underground Railroad





We Keep Us Safe booktalk by author Zach Norris, executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human RightsBook cover for Zach Norris' "We Keep Us Safe"

We Keep Us Safe booktalk by author Zach Norris, executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. With introduction and discussion moderation by Rev. Celeste Frazier from East Bay Church of Religious Science A groundbreaking new vision for public safety that overturns more than 200 years of fear-based discrimination, othering, and punishment. As the effects of aggressive policing and mass incarceration harm historically marginalized communities and tear families apart, how do we define safety? In a time when the most powerful institutions in the United States are embracing the repressive and racist systems that keep many communities struggling and in fear, we need to reimagine what safety means. Community leader and lawyer Zach Norris lays out a radical way to shift the conversation about public safety away from fear and punishment and toward growth and support systems for our families and communities. In order to truly be safe, we are going to have to dismantle our mentality of Us vs. Them. By bridging the divides and building relationships with one another, we can dedicate ourselves to strategic, smart investments—meaning resources directed toward our stability and well-being, like healthcare and housing, education and living-wage jobs. This is where real safety begins. We Keep Us Safe is a blueprint of how to hold people accountable while still holding them in community. The result reinstates full humanity and agency for everyone who has been dehumanized and traumatized, so they can participate fully in life, in society, and in the fabric of our democracy.

Wednesday, February 26 - 6pm-8pm Temescal Branch
Keywords: Temescal, North Oakland, Ella Baker Center, Zach Norris, public safety, mass incarceration, community, book talk, Meet the Author




2020: Visions Toward Tomorrowvintage image of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland on 14th Street in Oakland, California

Join SAAMLO (Friends and Stewards of AAMLO) for 2020: Visions Toward Tomorrow. The evening—promoting the legacy of Black History 365 days a year—features spoken word artists, jazz musicians, community choirs, visual artists, and words of wisdom from Oakland’s community sages.

Saturday, February 29 - 5pm-8pm African American Museum & Library at Oakland
Keywords: Temescal, North Oakland, Ella Baker Center, Zach Norris, public safety, mass incarceration, community, book talk, Meet the Author