Black history Month

Celebrate the impact of Black writers and their work!

Our newest exhibit, Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice, examines the history of racial injustice in America through the work of Black American writers from the end of the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement. This exhibit is available to explore now and is included with general admission.

PLAN YOUR VISIT
Collage of artwork featured in the American Writers Museum's exhibit "Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice"

Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice

Immerse yourself in our newest exhibit Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice and honor the significant contributions of Black writers to American literature and history. Explore and better understand racial injustice in America by examining the work of Black American writers from the end of the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement. Featuring original artwork, augmented reality and other interactive elements that enliven and enrich the experience, Dark Testament brings the work of writers past and present to life in new and exciting ways. This exhibit, and all exhibits, are included with museum admission.

GET TICKETS
Photo of Langston Hughes with quote by that reads: "In all my life I have never been free. I have never been able to do anything with freedom, except in the field of my writing."

February is Black History Month and we have a number of resources available to help you discover, celebrate, and honor the vast contributions of Black writers, both past and present.

Black History Month is here, celebrate with us!

Register for these programs in February with Black writers and artists.

No event found!

Explore Online Exhibits

Plus, you can take a virtual guided tour focused on Frederick Douglass with a group or classroom! Learn more and book a tour.

Frederick Douglass: Agitator exhibit logo

Frederick Douglass: Agitator

Author and orator Frederick Douglass was a “self-made man” (the title of one of his most popular speeches). To Douglass, a self-made man was an activist who sought to eradicate the sins of society. He escaped from slavery to become one of the most eloquent voices of abolitionism. The official end of slavery in 1865 marked the second phase of Douglass’ career. His words – passionate, brilliant, and powerful – denounced violent racism in the South while demanding true equality for all Americans.

Classroom resources are available to download as well.

Pauli Murray: Survival With Dignity

Pauli Murray: Survival With Dignity

Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was a poet, a lawyer, a priest, a freight hopper, Eleanor Roosevelt’s friend, arrested for refusing to comply with bus segregation laws, a closeted member of the LBGTQ+ community, a professor, and so much more. Their work has influenced Supreme Court decisions, the Civil Rights movement, and countless individual people. Get to know the life and work of Pauli Murray and see how they used writing to fight for justice for all oppressed communities.

Classroom resources are available to download as well.

American Voices exhibit logo

American Voices

In the online adaptation of our physical exhibit American Voices, you can delve into more than 400 years of American writing. Learn more about barrier-breakers like Phillis Wheatley, who at the age of 20 became the first published African-American author in 1773. Or learn about Modernism-era writers like Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, and more. Explore themes like “Identity” and “Promise” and see how Black writers have helped shaped these throughout American history.

Classroom resources are available to download as well.

Watch today’s leading writers, scholars, and activists read Frederick Douglass’s iconic 1845 memoir Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave in its entirety.

Photo of June Jordan and a quote by her that reads, "Like a lot of Black women, I have always had to invent the power my freedom requires."

WATCH

Over on our YouTube channel we’ve put together a Black History Month playlist for your viewing pleasure. Revisit many of our past programs with leading Black writers writers like:

YOUTUBE PLAYLIST

Square graphic with a portion of Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "Primer for Blacks" that reads: "Blackness—the Black of it, the rust-red of it, the milk and cream of it, the tan and yellow-tan of it, the deep-brown middle-brown high-brown of it, the 'olive' and ochre of it—Blackness marches on."

LISTEN

Check out the AWM Podcast Network if you are interested in learning about writers of the past or hearing from leading writers of the present.

AWM PODCAST NETWORK

READ

Hit the American Writers Museum blog for even more Black History Month content.

AWM BLOG HOME

Photo of Tupac Shakur with quote by him that reads, "I see no changes, all I see is racist faces. Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races. We under, I wonder what it takes to make this. One better place, let's erase the wasted."
Photo of Audre Lorde with quote by her that reads, "I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified...We've been taught that silence would save us, but it won't"

Black History Month Reading Recommendations:
BLACK WRITERS, THEIR STORIES, AND WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

Black Activism in Young Adult Novels

The following two book recommendations for young readers were featured at the inaugural American Writers Festival on May 15, 2022. The Festival highlighted a number of Black writers from a wide range of genres. Check out the American Writers Festival playlist on YouTube and be sure to subscribe as we release more programs throughout Black History Month.

Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado book cover

Stranger Things meets Jordan Peele in Burn Down, Rise Up, the utterly original debut from incredible new voice Vincent Tirado. For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention―especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.

LISTEN HERE | WATCH HERE

Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson

In Survive the Dome by young adult novelist Kosoko Jackson, Jamal Lawson just wanted to be a part of something. As an aspiring journalist, he packs up his camera and heads to Baltimore to document a rally protesting police brutality after another Black man is murdered. But before it even really begins, the city implements a new safety protocol…the Dome. The Dome surrounds the city, forcing those within to subscribe to a total militarized shutdown. No one can get in, and no one can get out….how will Jamal survive?

LISTEN HERE | WATCH HERE