February is Black History Month—an opportunity to remember and celebrate the challenges and contributions of African Americans in our organization, community, and country.
The brainchild of historian Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month was originally a week-long celebration of the achievements of Black Americans that started in 1926. Although Black History is American History, Black History Month is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the invaluable contributions that Black Americans have made to society. Learn more about the beginnings of Black History Month in a background piece from NPR.
Below are 12 ways to explore and recognize the impact of African Americans in the Bull City and beyond:
- Learn about Black history by watching a mini documentary hosted by renowned historian Henry Louis Gates Jr.
- Listen to a podcast like this one from WUNC’s Tested about fashion icon and Durham’s own André Leon Talley.
- Learn about the history of Durham Parks and Recreation in a blog post featuring events and individuals including Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival and W.D. Hill Recreation Center.
- Join our Neighborhood Improvement Services Department for their ongoing Our Community Stories series highlighting Durham’s marginalized communities – learn about the West End community on February 25 or review past events.
- Commemorate Black History Month with free events hosted by North Carolina Central University including lectures, panel discussions, and a lunch-and-learn series on WNCU 90.7FM.
- Watch a film about a history-making Durhamite like Pauli Murray or Ann Atwater.
- Visit Discover Durham’s website to explore Black stories, Black-owned businesses, historic sites, and more.
- Listen to this history of the blues to learn about how Black Americans have shaped the musical landscape in the US.
- Check out a virtual art exhibit or browse past and modern artwork by Black artists.
- Learn about Black food culture by making a recipe.
- Take part in Durham County Library’s Black History Month trivia and scavenger hunt events.
- Follow GoDurham on social as they share Black history stories and events throughout the month.
For a full list of Black History Month events in the Triangle, check out WRAL’s Black History Month Guide.
Featured photos highlighting the contributions of African Americans to the City of Durham and the community:
Durham's First Black Mayor
From 1989 to 1991, Chester Luther Jenkins served as the first Black mayor of Durham after having previously served on the Durham City Council for eight years. Thirty years later on December 6, 2021, Durham native Elaine O’Neal was sworn in and now serves as the first Black female mayor of Durham.