DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

Black history month

Feb 6 2013

African food heritage

by Dea Anne M

We all know that February is Black History Month but did you know that during February we also celebrate African Heritage and Health Week? According to Oldways, the nonprofit food and education organization, February 1st – 7th is a time for celebrating African heritage by eating meals inspired by the traditional cooking of Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and the African American South. Numerous studies have shown that traditional diets that emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans help to promote good health. I urge you to visit this very interesting website and learn more about the traditional food of Africa. You’ll find the African Heritage Diet Pyramid, information about African Diaspora cultures, tips on grocery shopping and setting up your kitchen, and my favorite feature “African Heritage Dine-Around-Town.” This is a list (with links) of restaurants in every state that serve African cuisine. Though it is by no means comprehensive (for example, no Ethiopian restaurants make the list for Georgia) it’s still a fun tool for those who want to dine out on African foods.

cuisineAre you interested in exploring African foods in your own kitchen? Check out these resources from DCPL.

Marcus Samuelsson is a world famous chef who was born to Ethiopian parents and adopted by a Swedish couple after the death of his mother. Raised in Sweden, he trained and apprenticed in Europe before coming to New York where he became the youngest chef to receive a three star review from the New York Times. His newest restaurant is Red Rooster in Harlem and his cookbook The Soul of a New Cuisine: a discovery of the foods and flavors of Africa (with Heidi Sacko Walters) was selected as the “Best International Cookbook” by the James Beard Foundation in 2006.

africaAlso take note of:


Feb 22 2012

Celebrating African American Women

by Dea Anne M

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" by sculptor Augusta Savage

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" by sculptor Augusta Savage

February is Black History Month and this year the celebration’s special focus has been “Black Women in American Culture and History.”  Though the month is drawing to a close, there’s still time to remember and celebrate some of the very interesting African American women who, though well known, are perhaps less often heralded than others but are, nonetheless, just as important. Here’s an admittedly small sampling:

Bessie Coleman (1893-1926) – the first African American female pilot and the first African American to hold an international pilots license.

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) – the first widely known African American poet and the first African American woman to publish her writing.

Harriet Ida Pickins and Frances Willis – the first African American female U.S. Navy officers.

Bridget Mason (1818- 1891) – nurse, midwife, philanthropist and real estate entrepreneur. She was one of the first African Americans, and the first female, to own land in Los Angeles.

Augusta Savage (1892- 1962) – sculptor and highly influential teacher and activist throughout the Harlem Renaissance and beyond. Her sculpture Lift Every Voice and Sing was created for the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

If you want to learn more about these women and others, DCPL has materials available to you.

Kids can do their own research with these (selected) titles:

I’m sure I’ve left out many notable women. Who would you add to the list?


Jan 31 2011

Harlem on My Mind

by Veronica W

Black History Month is just around the corner,  so I decided to revisit my own history. Until the age of 12, I grew up on the not-so-mean streets of Harlem (that’s NY, not the Netherlands) . Harlem then (and I won’t say when) was an exciting, noise-filled experience for a child. Just walking from one end of the legendary 125th Street to the other gave you a cultural thrill that could not be experienced anywhere else outside the marketplaces of Africa or the Caribbean. Visits to the Apollo Theater, walks along  the Hudson River and Riverside Drive, field trips to Grant’s Tomb, the Cloisters and the Schomburg Library all made for powerful memories.

Yes, the negatives were there;  friends I couldn’t visit because they  lived in the  reportedly unsafe “projects;”  sad men sitting on stoops or standing on corners, whose lives seemed to be directionless and empty.  But if you opened your window on a sultry summer night, on those same corners you might hear the most glorious harmony from impromptu accapella groups; groups that could but never would, make it big on stage.  During the day you could listen for the arrival of the ice cream truck or the traveling merry-go-round. Although my forward thinking parents insisted we become acquainted with “downtown” and the Museum of Natural History, New York Public Library, the Empire State Building, skating at Rockefeller Center and a larger world in general, it was those brief times spent on “the block” which taught me how to jump double dutch, perform hand clapping games and play handball. The move to the suburbs may have been a step up  in some ways, but there was something missing which could not be found while playing in my own backyard.

With regentrification, much of the Harlem of my childhood is gone and  Starbucks has arrived. However for those who have never been and will probably never go to Harlem, there are numerous books and other materials which will allow you to see this still remarkable place, as it was .


This was Harlem –  A cultural portrait
Harlem – Walter D. Myers celebrates the people, sights & sounds of Harlem
When Harlem was in Vogue– An illustrated history
Showtime at the Apollo – A view of the city’s most famous theater
Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Like My Sister Kate –  Harlem Renaissance poets


Against the Odds – Rich, archival footage… recalls the influential force & vibrancy of Harlem
Harlem Nights– A fictional account of the excitement and drama of Harlem night life starring Eddie Murphy
New York Songs – Includes  classics  “Take the A Train” & “Harlem Shuffle”
An Afternoon in Harlem – Jazz musician Hugh Ragin


Feb 29 2008

Words to Live By

by Myguail C

As February 29 nears and the national celebration of Black History Month ends, I feel it only fitting to dedicate this blog post to the power of words from our ancestors, parents and world leaders.  After reading please share with us your favorite quote!

May the following quotes and the input from DeKalb Library users words live from generation to generation.

“Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story.”

“The (word) of a friend makes you cry; the (word) of an enemy makes you laugh.”

“Patience can cook a stone”

“If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation).”
– Fanti

“If you understand the beginning well, the end will not trouble you.”

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
-Maya Angelou

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.”
-Frederick Douglass

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Feb 28 2008



I stumbled upon blackpast.org the other day and found it to be a very useful resource.  In their own words:

“This site is dedicated to providing reference materials to the general
public on six centuries of African American history. It includes an
online encyclopedia of hundreds of famous and lesser known figures in
African America, full text primary documents and major speeches of
black activists and leaders from the 18th Century to the present. There
are also links to hundreds of websites that address the history of
African Americans including major black museums and archival research
centers in the United States and Canada.”

For many more African-American resources and websites, see this post.


In celebration of Black History Month I have listed nine websites dedicated to the history and culture of African Americans.  They are just a few of my favorites.  History has always been a collection of experiences and knowledge and I realize that the residents of DeKalb County have a plethora of knowledge.

I’d like your input!   So, I’m extending the offer to you, let me know what your favorite African American links are.

Just click on comment and give a brief description of your African American link and share with our community!

Aaexp_2The African American Experience
The African American Experience is an award-winning database featuring full-text access to over 400 volumes of content that give voice to the Black experience from its African origins to the present day.  This is a database the library subscribes to, you will need your card and PIN to access it from home.

African American History
AfricanAmericans.com has over 750 web pages on the African American community. They cover many topics: black history, the civil rights movement, slavery, African American art, to black gospel music. AfricanAmericans.com also includes profiles of famous
African American historical leaders like: Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali,
Frederick Douglass, and current black celebrities: Michael Jordan, Serena
Williams, and many more.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American Culture and History
The African American History and Culture section of the Encyclopedia Smithsonian

Heritage Quest Online
Heritage Quest online represents the most comprehensive collection of genealogical and local history information. In addition to the entire U.S. federal census, Heritage Quest microform products provide vital statistics, military records, special census schedules, ship passenger lists, and much more.  This is a database the library subscribes to, you will need your card and PIN to access it from home.

African American History at About.Com
About.com offers photographs, quotes, history, and a daily this day in African American History section, inventor information and much, much more.

The History Makers
Includes biographical information and audio and visual clips about African Americans who have influenced history.

The Library of Congress
Displays of items from the collections of the Library of Congress focusing on outstanding African Americans who, through their personal contributions and sacrifices, have helped enhance the origins of multiculturalism.

The Black Inventor
Information on black inventors and their inventions.


Feb 12 2008

Library Basics: Finding Biographies

by Chris S

It’s Black History Month, when students everywhere are suddenly needing to know details about the lives of scientists, inventors, politicians, civil rights leaders, other notables.  Lucky for you, the library is your first stop for biographies and between our books and our databases, we have about everything you would need for a book report or other project about people’s lives.

Okay, first let’s talk about books.  All of our branches have biography sections, both in the juvenile and adult sections of the library.  They’re arranged by the subject’s last name (as opposed to the author’s name or anything else), which means that if you’re looking for a book about the late civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, you would look under “Rustin.”

The biography section, though, as nice as it is that we separate those out for you, is not the only section to look for books about notable figures.  You can also look under the Dewey Decimal number that covers the subject related to your famous person (say, baseball – 796.357, science – 500s, or journalism – 070s, for example).  You can also check our biographical dictionaries or other reference books that cover biography, history, or other subjects.

Our online databases, though, are where you procrastinators can thrive!  With your library card and PIN number (and a computer with an internet connection), you have access to these 24/7.  Try out the African American Experience, which covers an incredible amount of information, and the Biography Resource Center, which gives you enough information to get you through your paper.  Oh, and here’s the best news for students whose teachers ban internet sources:  these databases count as books.  Most of them are the actual text from many of the print resources we have on the shelves.

As always, knowing what your library has and how to get to it is the key to having the best resources around.  During this month of celebration, remembrance, study, find a way to make your local library a part of the experience.


This month offers some great movies to celebrate African-American History Month.  Catching a movie at the Library provides a great way to get to know your neighbors, promote a sense of community, and a chance to discuss the movie with others.

Lunch and a Movie at the Redan-Trotti Library

Bring your lunch and enjoy a great movie!

Pride Pride: Based on the true story of inner-city Philadelphia swim coach, Jim Ellis, Pride tells the story of how Ellis, from his roots in North Carolina, goes on to build a swim team in one of Philadelphia’s toughest neighborhoods. Rated PG. Saturday, February 16 at 12 noon.

Dreamgirls: Three young women with dreams of stardom discover exactly what it means to make it in the music business and the sacrifices they must make to realize their dream. Based on the book by Tom Eyen. Rated PG-13. Saturday, February 23 at 12 noon.

Movies at the Flat Shoals Library

Popcorn provided!

Talk to Me: This film tells the true story of Washington D.C. radio personality Ralph “Petey” Greene (Don Cheadle), an ex-con who became a popular talk show host and community activist in the 1960s.  Adult program: please note this film is rated R for pervasive language.  Tuesday, February 12, 6:00 PM. Talktome

Boycott: On December 1, 1955, one black woman refused to give up her seat on a “whites only” section of a public bus. The bus stopped.  Montgomery, Alabama stopped. Rated PG. Tuesday, February 26 at 6:00 PM.

Movies at the Scott Candler Library
Raisin_in_the_sun_2 A Raisin in the Sun: Based on the award winning play by Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun tells the story of the Great Migration of blacks from the South to the Northern U.S. during the first half of the 20th century. Starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee. Not Rated.  Tuesday, February 26 at 6:00 PM.

Sarafina!: In a world where truth is forbidden, an inspiring teacher dares to instill in her students lessons not found in schoolbooks. In doing so, she challenges their freedom and hers. Starring Whoopi Goldberg. Rated PG-13. Tuesday, February 12 at 12 noon.
Movies at the Covington LibraryDowninthedelta

Down in the Delta: A troubled single mother from a tough Chicago neighborhood is sent to spend a summer at her family’s home in rural Mississippi. Directed by Maya Angelou. Rated PG-13. Saturday, February 16 at 11:30 AM.
Check out other great movie choices at the library HERE, including independent films, movies for seniors, and classic films.


Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson is known as the “Father of Black
History”.  Dr. Woodson was an author, editor, publisher, historian and promoter
of cultural diversity and democracy.  In 1915, Dr. Woodson founded the
Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASALH), “to archive
sociological and historical data, publish books, promote the study of
Afro-American life and history and encourage racial harmony through the
organization and works of clubs and schools. ”

By the early 1920’s he coordinated with Omega Psi Phi
fraternity to promote the achievements of African Americans.  In 1924, Omega Psi
Phi created Negro History and Literature Week which later became Negro Achievement
Week.  With this accomplishment the seeds were planted to promote discovering
and popularizing the truth of African American achievement amongst blacks as
well as whites.  In 1926, through Dr. Woodson’s efforts, Negro History Week was
born with the support of teachers, civic clubs, progressive white scholars and
philanthropists.  With such enthusiastic endorsement, Dr. Woodson chose the month of
February to celebrate the birthdays and accomplishments of Frederick Douglass
and Abraham Lincoln. Selecting Abraham Lincoln, the issuer of the Emancipation
Proclamation, and Frederick Douglass, a black abolitionist and leader, intertwined
the notion that African American History is American History.  This movement
spread even after Dr. Woodson’s death in 1950 to cities across the country embracing
the Black Awakening and Civil Rights movements of the 1960s that demanded
African American culture be taught in colleges and universities.  In 1976,
through the early efforts of Carter G. Woodson, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma
Theta, and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Black History Month was born.
Every President from 1976-2008 has issued a proclamation declaring February
National African American History Month.

DeKalb County Public Library welcomes all citizens to share
in this celebration through programs being offered throughout the system.

Myguail C.