WSU Libraries Offer Black History Month Resources

Want to learn more about Black history but don’t know where to start? Washington State University Libraries faculty and staff have compiled online resources and selections from a juvenile book collection to help patrons explore Black history during February and all year round.

University Archivist Mark O’English suggests the following:

Poster of WSU student Ralph Atkins, who was arrested on controversial charges in Pullman in the 1970s. The case sparked a flashpoint in campus activism.
  • The Black Oral History Collection consists of interviews of African American pioneers and their descendants throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana from 1972-1974. Topics discussed in the interviews include early black settlers, job opportunities, social life and community, and more from the late 1800s through 1974.
  • The Civil Rights Oral History Collection is made up of oral histories produced in February 2001 by the Spokesman-Review on the intersection between the civil rights movement of the 1960s and Spokane.
  • The WSU Student Unrest of the ‘60s and ‘70s Collection features materials from the campus student activism of 1969-1970, which dealt with race, but also with agriculture and Vietnam/Cambodia.
  • The South by Northwest videos were created by WSU Black Studies faculty, staff, and students in the 1970s to tell the stories of Northwest African American pioneers.

Last year, WSU Libraries purchased access to the digital archives of the Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2010), part of ProQuest’s Historical Black Newspapers Collection.

“Newspapers are a good entry point for students just beginning to work with primary sources, and we wanted to provide them with a familiar source type that offers perspectives not found in newspapers that students more commonly use, such as the New York Times,” said Humanities Librarian Erin Hvizdak.

“Digital access to this newspaper will also be extremely valuable for researchers in the history of race relations and the African American experience in the U.S. West Region,” she said. “We wanted to start regionally and hope to purchase access to additional newspapers in the future.”

Lorena O’English, social sciences and government documents librarian, recommends the African American Experience: The American Mosaic, a digital library of full-text resources both historical and recent, which includes media such as posters, ads, and political cartoons; primary source documents, including letters, speeches, and court documents; and general sources such as reference resources, biographies, and timelines.

“An added benefit to the digital library is its ability to narrow by time period,” O’English said.

“Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box” and other titles are available as part of Owen Science and Engineering Library’s juvenile collection.

Owen Science and Engineering Library has a juvenile collection of fiction and nonfiction books that deal with race, according to Nancy Beebe, library and archives paraprofessional. A sampling of titles include:

  • “We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March” by Cynthia Levinson. In May 1963, 3,000 to 4,000 children marched in Birmingham as an answer to Martin Luther King’s call to “fill the jails.” The courage of those who marched helped to repeal segregation laws and inspired other youth to do the same.
  • “Because of You, John Lewis: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship” by Andrea Davis Pinkney. The story follows a young boy who journeys to Selma, Ala., to meet the great civil rights leader and what transpires between the boy and Lewis.
  • “Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People” by Kekla Magoon. The book provides a comprehensive history of the Black Panther Party and the repression members endured from the U.S. government.
  • “Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box” by Evette Dionne. The book chronicles the fight of black women to achieve voting rights, encountering far more obstacles than white women.

“There are many other excellent books found at Owen Library that further explore the history of the civil rights movement for both children and young adults,” Beebe said. “It is vital that younger generations be fully aware of the long and often bloody continuing struggle to achieve equality under the law.”