Celebrate Black History Month with a Findlay Library

Celebrating Black History Month in the Toledo Region

February is Black History Month, and with it comes plenty of opportunities to learn about the rich cultural history of black Americans right here in the Toledo Region.

The history of Black History Month itself has roots in the 1920s, when historians began to celebrate Negro History Week during the second week in February. This week was chosen in honor of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays. Black History Month began decades later in 1970, following successful efforts by students and educators right here in Ohio at Kent State University.

But you don’t have to take it from us; if you’re looking to further your education surrounding cultural diversity and black history in the U.S., you don’t have to go far from home. In fact, you don’t even need to leave the Toledo Region.

At the Black Heritage Library and Multicultural Center in Findlay, visitors can explore the multicultural history of the U.S. through art, programming and even a Smithsonian exhibit. The non-profit began in 1982 by Nina Sherard-Parker. Though she was met with uncertainty from her community, especially considering Hancock County’s population of black residents was only about 1.5 percent, she recognized that Findlay – her home – was the only place she could imagine establishing the library.

It began with a single book, Great Negros: Past and Present, given to Sherard-Parker by her mother, Stella Mae Sherard. Decades later, the library is home to thousands of books, important pieces of art and installations that celebrate not just black culture, but all cultures. This is in line with one of the library’s original goals: to celebrate and educate all races, cultural heritages and ethnic backgrounds.

The library gained major traction when it earned the Smithsonian Institution’s Black Wings exhibit in 1987. The permanent exhibit highlights African American aviators from Bessie Coleman, the first African American and Native American woman to hold a pilot’s license; to the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American WWII pilots; to Guion Bluford, the first African American person to go to space.

On Feb. 22, visit the Black Heritage Library and Multicultural Center for a community movie double feature of Tuskegee Airmen and Redtails, two films chronicling the successes of black U.S. military pilots and servicemen.

The Black Heritage Library and Multicultural Center is open 4-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3-5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free, and group tours are $5.

Celebrating Black History Month in the Toledo Region

Interested in learning more about black American history and joining in on the celebration? Check out these events throughout the Toledo Region:

Toledo Lucas County Public Library

A Day with Ms. Lady K

Hear Ms. Karen Harris as she sings classics

Feb. 19: 4-5 p.m. at the Lock Branch

Feb. 20: 4-5 p.m. at the Toledo Heights Branch

Feb. 24: 4-5 p.m. at the Sanger Branch

Feb. 25: 5-6 p.m. at the King Road Branch

JP Dynasty

Listen to the African drum beats of the JP Dynasty

Feb. 19: 6-8 p.m. at the Oregon Branch

Feb. 24: 6-7 p.m. at the South Branch

Feb. 26: 6-7 p.m. at the Holland Branch

Hustle & Grow: Resourceful Entrepreneurship

Yelitsa Jean-Charles discusses how she saw an opportunity in the toy industry to introduce diversity and launched her company Healthy Roots Dolls

Feb. 26: 6-8 p.m. at the Main Branch

The Katch Band

The Katch Band celebrates Black History Month with a live performance

Feb. 29: 1-2:30 p.m. at the Mott Branch

Dances from the Motherland

Elev8ted Productions presents Dances from the Motherland, a tribute to African dance

Feb. 19: 4-5 p.m. at the Program Center

Feb. 21: 4-5 p.m. at the Locke Branch

Feb. 28: 4-5 p.m. at the Sylvania Branch

Sacred Steel – an American Sound with Toledo Roots

Sacred Steel performs African American gospel music using the historic African American instrument, the steel guitar

Feb. 23: 1-3 p.m., West Toledo Branch

Soul Food Sampling from J’Mae’s Restaurant

Taste some of the most delicious soul food from J’Mae’s

Feb. 18: 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Kent Branch

Toledo Museum of Art

Conversation: African Americans and the Vote

Listen to spoken word in celebration of Black History Month

Feb. 22: 2-3 p.m.

Great Performances: Black History Month Celebration

Feb. 23: 3-4 p.m.

Listen to music in celebration of Black History Month

Feb. 23: 3-4 p.m.

Lourdes University

Black History Month Celebration

Lourdes University presents its annual Black History Month celebration of The Stars Within Us: Black Excellence and the Arts

Feb. 27: 4:30-6 p.m.

The University of Toledo

31st Annual Black History Banquet

Learn about the integral black workers during the labor movement and listen to keynote speaker David Fleetwood

Feb. 29: 5 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel