Happy February! Along with chilly weather and settling into the new year, February is recognized as Black History Month to honor the many Black and African-American historical figures who have made incredible contributions to society and culture.

Did you know?

Dr. Nettie Craig Asberry

Longtime Tacoma resident Nettie Craig Asberry was an incredible community leader and fought for social justice in Tacoma and Fort Lewis. Asberry encouraged women of color to form their own clubs and organizations, eventually founding the Tacoma chapter of the NAACP. Asberry also formed a music club for young people in Tacoma, teaching children to create and appreciate music using the PhD that she earned before she turned eighteen!

She is considered by some to possibly be the first African-American woman in the nation to earn a doctorate degree, which she earned from the Kansas Conservatory of Music and Elocution in Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1883. To learn more about Dr. Asberry, check out Washington State Historical Society’s article detailing her life by Lorraine Rath.

Dr. Dolores Silas

Tacoma is also proud to have been the home of Dr. Dolores Silas, who, as the first Black woman to be elected to the Tacoma City Council, worked to improve public safety, as well as economic and neighborhood development.

According to the Tacoma Historical Society, Dr. Silas was also one of the first Black teachers in the Tacoma Schools and the district’s first Black principal. One of the ways that the community honors Dr. Silas is through the renaming of Wilson High School to Silas High School. Learn more about Dr. Silas through the Tacoma Historical Society’s In Memoriam commemorating her story.

Picture Books for February

There are lots of picture books for those of all ages to learn about Black History not only this month but every month! We’ve highlighted some of our top picks below, so consider checking some of these stories out from your local library.

The Year We Learned to Fly

The Year We Learned to Fly

by Jacqueline Woodson

On a dreary, stuck-inside kind of day, a brother and sister heed their grandmother’s advice: “Use those beautiful and brilliant minds of yours. Lift your arms, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and believe in a thing. Somebody somewhere at some point was just as bored as you are now.” This precious skill, their grandmother tells them, harkens back to the days long before they were born, when their ancestors showed the world the strength and resilience of their beautiful and brilliant minds.

I Am Ruby Bridges

I Am Ruby Bridges

by Ruby Bridges

When Ruby Bridges was six years old, she became the first Black child to integrate the all-white William Frantz Elementary in Louisiana. This book, based on the pivotal events that happened in 1960 and told from her point of view, is a poetic reflection on her experience that changed the face of history and the trajectory of the Civil Rights movement.

Martin's Big Words

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Doreen Rappaport

Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most influential and gifted speakers of all time. Doreen Rappaport uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell the story of his life and his work in a simple, direct way. Those who attended the Museum’s Martin Luther King Jr. storytime last month may remember this book, which was read by Teacher Alycia!

Mae Among the Stars

Mae Among the Stars

by Roda Ahmed

When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering. She wanted to be an astronaut. Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.

Little Leaders

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

by Vashti Harrison

Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things – bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them.

Further Reading

Looking for more great titles? Ask your local librarian for recommendations, or check out this Black History book list from Tacoma Public Libraries!

Black History Month Events

All over Pierce County, community members are honoring Black History Month with amazing art, performances, educational exhibits, and more. The following events are family friendly and require no registration, but make sure you keep an eye out for even more events near you!

Click each image to be redirected to the event website.

Artist Spotlight

Black Artist Spotlight

Tacoma Public Library Moore Branch | Tuesdays

Join Tacoma Public Library’s Moore Branch each Tuesday as they highlight a new artist’s story and work that helped to shape our world. The library will also be providing materials for visitors to create their own artwork!

Black History Celebration

Black History Celebration

People’s Community Center | February 3

From 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., People’s Community Center will be celebrating Black History Month with art activities, music, performances, a scavenger hunt, and more! People’s Community Center is located at 1602 M.L.K. Jr Way in Tacoma.

Solidarity Now Exhibit

Third Thursday at the Washington State History Museum

Washington State History Museum | February 15

From February 3 – April 28, join the Washington State History Museum as they showcase the Solidarity Now! 1968 Poor People’s Campaign exhibit from the Smithsonian, with photographs, oral histories of participants and organizers, and an array of artifacts from the campaign. Visit the Museum on the Third Thursday of each month for free admission from 3 – 8 p.m.

Black Night Market

Black History Month Market

Mount Tahoma High School | February 24

Join the Black Night Market at Mount Tahoma High School from 12 p.m. – 6 p.m., where they’ll be highlighting BIPOC Businesses, live performing artists and Black History!