Boston Public Library Celebrates Black History Month

BPL celebrates Black History Month with new booklist, special events, and highlighted Special Collections items

BOSTON, January 31, 2024 - To honor Black History Month, the Boston Public Library (BPL) is releasing Black Is..., a booklist of recent titles commemorating the achievements, complexities, struggles, and culture of the Black experience. Celebrated annually in February, Black History Month honors and explores the influence and legacy of Black Americans. The BPL will also observe Black History Month by hosting special events for all ages across branches and by highlighting notable items in the BPL collections.

The Black Is... booklist, featuring selected books written either by Black authors or about Black history and culture, is compiled by staff librarians from the Fields Corner, Lower Mills, Mattapan, and South End branches, along with staff from the Central Library in Copley Square. The 75 titles comprising Black Is... highlight selections for adults. teenagers, and children by authors such as Elizabeth Acevedo, Bill Bellamy, Vashti Harrison, Sadeqa Johnson, and Helen Elaine Lee. Genres from this collection include fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, expressions, and poetry.

Each book on the list contains a synopsis and is accompanied by an image of the book cover as well as classification information. In addition to print books, select titles are available as eBooks or audiobooks.

Along with the booklist, the BPL will celebrate Black History Month with author talks and lectures, performing arts events, film screenings, book group discussions, arts and crafts workshops, and more. The full list of programs can be found at Highlights include:

Additionally, BPL's Special Collections department welcomes patrons to a hands-on experience in the Special Collections reading room. The Special Collections Sampler for Black History Month will allow patrons to explore notable objects from the BPL's collections highlighting Black authors and artists' contributions to society.

Items highlighted and celebrated include two paintings by Boston artist Allan Rohan Crite, whose artwork uplifted and humanized Black lives: The Tax Announcements (Old State House), a 1954 gouache, and Preliminary Study for the Nativity, a 1956 mixed-media painting; photographs of the 1965 March on Boston Common led by Martin Luther King, Jr.; a rare 1926 book, with a signed inscription from Langston Hughes, titled The Weary Blues, Hughes' first collected book of poetry; and a 1995 map titled Freedom's Tracks: A Map of the Underground Railroad, which depicts the scope and extent of the Underground Railroad's routes.

Patrons can delve deeper into the history of these objects at a Special Collections open house, to be held on February 27 from 2-4 p.m. in the Special Collections reading room at the Central Library in Copley Square. Special Collections staff will be available to answer questions as visitors explore these items up close. For those unable to attend the open house, the items will be available throughout the month of February for use in the Special Collections reading room, Wednesday - Friday, 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., with no appointment necessary. Other distinguished pieces from the BPL collection depicting Black history, culture, and achievements will be featured on the BPL's social media platforms during Black History Month.

Physical copies of the Black Is... booklist will be available at all BPL locations starting February 1, 2024; it can also be accessed digitally. In addition, the booklist and information about Black History Month programs will also appear on the BPL website at and on the BPL social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

Patrons can view many years' worth of prior affinity booklists, such as those from Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, LGBTQ+ Pride Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Native American Heritage Month in an online archive.



Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library is a pioneer of public library service in America. It was the first large, free municipal library in the United States; the first public library to lend books; the first to have a branch library; and the first to have a children’s room.

The Boston Public Library of today is a robust system that includes the Central Library in Copley Square, 25 neighborhood branches, the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center, the Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center, and an archival center, offering public access to world-class special collections of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and prints, along with rich digital content and online services.

The Boston Public Library serves nearly 4 million visitors per year and millions more online. All of its programs and exhibitions are free to all and open to the public. The Boston Public Library is a department of the City of Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Michelle Wu. To learn more, visit