Existing Outside the Lines: Book Display in Celebration of Black History Month

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Jan. 31, 2024, 8 a.m.
This curation of books explores themes of Black American experiences and their influence on visual arts, music, cultural movements, and more.
blue background with orange geometric border and text "Celebrating Black History Month 2024"

by Dashawn Austin, Coordinator of Multicultural Initiatives, Syracuse University

Origins of Black History Month

The first Black History Month was celebrated in February 1970 at Kent State University. It was proposed by Black educators and students there in 1969. Over the next few years, Black History Month gained popularity nationwide as an opportunity to honor the achievements of Black Americans. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month during the U.S. Bicentennial. He encouraged honoring the often-overlooked accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history. From there we have been able to see the evolution of celebrations, achievements and traditions that honor the stories and experiences of the Black community.

Existing Outside the Lines: The Colors of Resistance

The national theme for Black History Month this year is "African Americans and the Arts." This theme highlights the African, Caribbean and Black American experiences and their influence on visual arts, music, cultural movements and more. The Black History Month Committee built upon this theme by coming up with "Existing Outside the Lines: The Colors of Resistance." This theme encapsulates the rich diversity within the Black community and acknowledges the spectrum of color that Blackness encompasses. Focusing on this theme helped Dashawn Austin and student Erykah Pasha '24 curate a unique selection of books and graphic novels that celebrate Blackness in all its diversity. Their selections highlight pride and joy in Black spaces, explore resistance, showcase innovation and appreciate Black cosmetology. The array of books and novels aim to inspire, validate and give expression to the multifaceted Black community.


Please take some time and explore the amazing physical display in the Featured Collections section of Bird Library, 1st floor Learning Commons. And browse even more titles in the digital display. Tell a friend and if you feel compelled check out one of the books. To celebrate Black History Month feel free to check out a bunch of events hosted throughout February.

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