Black History Month


“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.’ ”

Martin Luther King Jr.

"I Have a Dream" March on Washington August 28, 1963

February is Black History Month! The Memphis Public Libraries have a wealth of resources to learn more about Black History, the Civil Rights Movement, and our city's place in history.

The Civil Rights Collection pulls material from several sources, including the George W. Lee Collection, the Arthur L. Webb Collection, and the A.W. Willis, Jr. Collection. Bringing together newspapers, photographs, correspondence, and speeches, the collection illustrates the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis.

Released in 1929 by MGM, King Vidor’s early talkie film, Hallelujah! , was the first movie musical to feature an all-black cast. The Library of Congress has called it one of “the very first indisputable masterpieces of the sound era”. The film, shot on location in Memphis and across the Mid-South, dramatizes the lives of African-American sharecroppers in the early 20th Century. The Hallelujah! Collection contains production photographs, movie stills, publicity materials, and video discussions of the film’s importance. You can also see our catalog and check the availability of the DVD.

Civil rights pioneer Benjamin Lawson Hooks was born in Memphis on January 31, 1925. He became first African American Criminal Court Judge in Shelby County, the first African American to serve on the Federal Communications Commission, and in 1977, he was elected executive director of the NAACP. Hooks led that venerable civil rights organization until his retirement in 1993. The Benjamin L. Hooks Collection includes personal material as well official NAACP documents, Freemasons programs, ministry information, photographs, and other miscellaneous materials.

The M Files Collection is the place to find all things Memphis! The collection contains newspaper clippings, photographs, audio/video files, and a collection of African American Portraits, highlighting some of the city’s greatest leaders, thinkers, and doers.

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Diversity Studies Collection: A must-have for social science, history and liberal arts coursework, this collection explores cultural differences, contributions and influences in our global community. This set includes more than 150 journals.

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Gale Virtual Reference Library is a database of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. These reference materials once were accessible only in the library, but now you can access them online from the library or remotely 24/7. You can also view the entire Gale Virtual Reference Library. Contact us for password if accessing from outside of the Library.

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Newsbank provides access to archives of the Commercial Appeal from 1990 to the present. Library Card is required when accessing outside of the Library. There is also a Special Report on Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition, if you select "Commercial Appeal: Historical and Current", then select "Commercial Appeal" with the date range of 1968-1969, then you can keyword search those select years.

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OverDrive eBooks & eAudiobooks: Check out our collection of downloadable eBooks. All you need is your Library Card to start reading today.

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