Centering and Celebrating Black History

Posted on: February 16, 2024

February is Black History Month, an opportunity to bring intentional focus to the centering and celebrating of Black history. We’ve compiled this list of local Black history resources, books, films, and other avenues to dig deeper into our local and national history and find new ways to join the celebration. 

Learn About Black History at JMU

  • Black Firsts at JMU: An interactive timeline created by students in the African, African American, and Diaspora (AAAD) Studies minor program featuring the first Black students, faculty, and staff at JMU among other milestones in the university’s history. Work on the timeline was supported by the Digital Scholarship and Distinctive Collections department in the Libraries.
  • Digital exhibit on race relations at JMU: An exhibit supported by Digital Scholarship and Distinctive Collections that gathers materials from JMU Special Collections that confront the painful racism of JMU’s past, as well as the efforts of students, faculty, and administrators to make JMU a more inclusive place.
  • Furious Flower Poetry Center collections: JMU Libraries stewards the historical records for JMU’s Furious Flower Poetry Center, the nation’s first academic center for Black poetry.
  • Renamed buildings at JMU: Learn about the people who were honored with the renaming of three buildings on JMU’s campus in 2021, thanks to the work of the Campus History committee and community members who supported the effort.

Explore Black History in Harrisonburg and nearby

  • African Americans in Harrisonburg Oral History Collection: Oral histories compiled as part of JMU’s 1978 summer workshop, “Oral Tradition and Storytelling in the Black Community of Harrisonburg.”
  • Augusta County African American Records: Added to the Histories along the Blue Ridge digital project in 2022.
  • Celebrating Simms: The Story of the Lucy F. Simms School: Learn how JMU Libraries supports a digital project celebrating a local leader and educator: Celebrating Lucy Simms and Black History in Harrisonburg.
  • Celebrating Simms: The Story of the Lucy F. Simms School: Learn how JMU Libraries supports a digital project that celebrates a local leader and educator, features oral histories of local Black community members, offers a map of Landmarks in African American History in Harrisonburg, and an provides interactive timeline of African American Life in Harrisonburg.    
  • Learn about Newtown: Watch a recording of a 2013 “Remembering Newtown” event (co-hosted by JMU Libraries) to learn about the urban renewal project in the 1950s and 60s that destroyed many Black homes and businesses in the northeast neighborhood of Harrisonburg.
  • Local history collection: The Ruth and Lowell Toliver Collection of Newman Family Papers in JMU Special Collections offer papers related to George Ambrose Newman, who served for 33 years as a teacher and administrator in Harrisonburg’s early African American schools and is remembered as a trailblazing member of Harrisonburg’s Black community. Learn more: Documenting Black History in Harrisonburg.

Engage with Black History in the Libraries

Digital Humanities Projects

Black History in Film

Check out the Black History Month video collection of hundreds of streaming movies and videos in Kanopy – an award-winning video streaming service providing access to more than 30,000 independent and documentary films, available to you for free through JMU Libraries as a member of the JMU community. 

Top-rated documentaries include:

Check out the entire Black History Month video collection or browse all 30,000 titles in Kanopy.

Attend a JMU Event

Check out the Black History Month events hosted by JMU’s Center for Multicultural Student Services (CMSS).

Learn More

Learn more and join the national celebration of Black History Month.

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