Black History Month 2023

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

As we commemorate Black History Month, there are many ways to discover stories celebrating African American experiences. Check out a selection of recommended books and browse a collection of films available through the Library's free streaming services. Attend one of our public speaker events or activities. You can also explore, learn, and celebrate with resources from theKansas City Black History website and commemorative booklet.


Black History Month Reading and Viewing


Black History Month 2023

Looking to deepen your knowledge of Black history? We've got the books that can help. The works of fiction and nonfiction listed here range in topic from slavery to Black Lives Matter, from Civil War to civil rights, from artists to entrepreneurs, and from social media to social justice.


Black History Month Youth Picks

A collection of picture books celebrating Black children and their families, as well as titles that honor Black leaders throughout history who fought against prejudice and injustice.


Films  and Documentaries

Watch documentaries, independent films, blockbusters, and cinematic stories about African American experiences, and check out movies made by Black filmmakers. Watch online using the Library's digital services — all you need is your library card!

Browse the film collection in Kanopy |  About Kanopy >

Films on hoopla |  About hoopla >

Learn more about video streaming services available through the Library >

Black History Month Programs and Activities 


IDEAL Entrepreneurship

Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Reception: 5:30 p.m. | Program: 6 p.m.
Plaza Branch

Three local business owners -- Kemet Coleman, La’Nae Robinson, and La’Nesha Frazier -- help the Library kick off a new four-part series on how to make entrepreneurship in Kansas City more inclusive, diverse, equitable, accessible, and liberating – more IDEAL for all. The discussion is moderated by Chelsey M, founder of Kansas City Black Owned.

Details  |  RSVP

The Culture and Politics of Rap

Sunday, February 19, 2023
Reception: 2:30 p.m.  |  Program: 3 p.m.
Plaza Branch

Drawing from his book Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap, University of Connecticut history professor Jeffrey Ogbonna Green Ogbar explores the genre and its performers. He also challenges the notion that hip-hop is socially dangerous, noting how many rappers critically view the crime-focused lyrics and antisocial messages of their peers.

Details  |  RSVP

Missouri Valley Sundays - Learning From Gordon Parks

Sunday, February 26, 2023  |  2 p.m.
Central Library  | Helzberg Auditorium

Lawrence, Kansas, photographer Ann Dean discusses the impact and inspiration found in three seminal books – The Learning Tree, A Choice of Weapons, and Half Past Autumn – by Kansas-born Black author, photographer, and filmmaker Gordon Parks, one of the most renowned documentarians of American life and culture in the 20th century.

Details  |  RSVP


Storytime with Author Nikiyah Crosdale

Wednesday, February 8, 2023  |  4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Southeast Branch  | Children's Area

The Thought Jar, by Nikiyah Crosdale, focuses on the importance of positive thinking for children. An activity will include creating your very own thought jar!


Friday Night Family Fun - Sports: Right on Time, a Tribute to Buck O’Neil

Friday, February 10, 2023  |  6 - 7:15 p.m. - Plaza Branch

Based on numerous interviews and Buck O’Neil's autobiography I Was Right on Time, Kansas City storyteller and vocalist "Brother John" Anderson provides a masterful impersonation of the Kansas City and Negro Leagues Baseball icon. Recommended for ages 3 and up.


Storytime with Author Clarence Lomax

Saturday, February 11, 2023  |  1 - 2 p.m.
Southeast Branch  | Children's Area

Yes, You Can Be Anything That You Want To Be, by Clarence Lomax, will inspire children to DREAM BIG and SAY YES to their goals! A special hands-on craft follows storytime.


Storytime with Author Christle Reed

Wednesday, February 23, 2023  |  4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Southeast Branch  | Children's Area

Hugs from the Sky, by Christle Reed, is a heartfelt story that helps children deal with love, loss, and acceptance. A special hands-on activity that focuses on the author’s work follows storytime.



Kansas City Black History Website and Booklet

Kansas City Black History Website

The Kansas City Black History website is a partnership project among the Library, the Local Investment Commission (LINC) and the Black Archives of Mid-America that spotlights the contributions of Black Kansas Citians.

Featuring online biographies, essays, educational resources, and additional content, highlights the legacies and accomplishments of notable African Americans who blazed trails, broke barriers, and shaped our city’s history. Biographies include a legislator who dedicated his life to public service and civil rights, a KC jazz legend, the founders of the Midwest’s preeminent Black newspaper, and Black entrepreneurs who overcame discrimination and racism to flourish in public relations, automobile sales, and the hospitality industry. The website also features a Black history program archive with dozens of interviews, lectures, and panel discussions focusing on African American life and culture, civil rights and activism, politics and community leadership, and other topics.


In 2021 as part of Missouri's Bicentennial, the Library, LINC, and the Black Archives produced a special booklet,  Kansas City Black History: The African American Story of History and Culture in Our Community (PDF download), which compiled the stories of more than 70 influential figures. This year's publication includes previously published biographies, as well as new honorees and remarks by Black leaders in our community today. The document has been updated in each subsequent year with new biographies.

A digital version of the piece is available for download on the Kansas City Black History website. Limited print copies will be available at Library locations in February; additional copies are available by request through LINC.

Download the booklet

Kansas City Black History booklet