Boston Public Library Celebrates Black History Month with Annual “Black Is…” Booklist & Special Events

Barack Obama, Claudia Rankine, Brit Bennett among Featured Authors; Sybrina Fulton to Speak on the Legacy of Trayvon Martin, and more

BOSTON, February 1, 2021—The Boston Public Library honors Black History Month with its annual “Black Is…” booklist of 69 recent works that convey unique aspects of the Black experience. Copies are now available at all library locations, and the list also appears on the BPL website at, opens a new window.  

Curated by staff librarians from the Central Library and Roslindale, Roxbury, Connolly, and South End branches, the 2021 list, opens a new window features books for adults, teens, and children by authors such as Claudia Rankine, Zora Neale Hurston, Brit Bennett, and former U.S. President Barack Obama. It includes a brief summary of each title and the BPL call number. See previous “Black Is…” booklists at, opens a new window

This year, the list notably features a “Black Lives Matter” section of titles that discuss topics related to the BLM movement, such as police brutality and voter suppression, and amplify the need for activism. Last year, at the height of the nation’s Black Lives Matter marches in June, the BPL saw a 500 percent increase in checkouts and holds on the most popular anti-racism and BLM titles. To meet this rising demand, the BPL spent more than $75,000 to expand this collection by purchasing new and additional copies of in demand titles, creating The Antiracist Reading List collection, opens a new window, some of which appear on the 2021 "Black Is..." booklist.  

On the events side, Sybrina Fulton, opens a new window, activist and mother of the late Trayvon Martin, headlines this year’s BPL Black History Month speaker lineup. On Tuesday, February 9, she will speak about her book, Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, which shares the intimate story of a tragically foreshortened life and the rise of a movement that awoke a nation’s conscience. This event is presented in partnership with the GBH Forum Network, opens a new window and is part of both the Lowell Lecture series sponsored by the Lowell Institute, opens a new window and the BPL’s Repairing America , opens a new windowseries. 

Other notable events include an author talk with Anna Malaika Tubbs, opens a new window about The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation; and a lecture co-hosted by the National Park Service about the Women’s Era Club of 1893, opens a new window, one of the first women’s clubs in the country hosted by African American women. You can find more BPL Black History Month events here, opens a new window

The Boston Public Library also produces curated booklists and holds educational and celebratory events for Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 14–Oct. 15), LGBT Pride Month in June, and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May.

For more City of Boston events celebrating Black History Month, visit