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The Alexandria Library celebrates Black History Month this year by highlighting the lives and careers of six outstanding individuals in the African American community.

Cori Dionne "Coco" Gauff - tennis player (born March 13, 2004) is an American professional tennis player. She has a career-high ranking of world No. 4 in singles, reached on October 24, 2022, and world No. 1 in doubles, achieved on August 15, 2022. Gauff won her first WTA Tour singles title at the 2019 Linz Open aged 15, making her the youngest singles title-holder on the Tour since 2004. She has won three WTA Tour singles titles and six doubles titles – three partnering with Caty McNally and three with Jessica Pegula. Gauff rose to prominence with a win over Venus Williams in the opening round of 2019 Wimbledon. (source)
Ijeoma Oluo - writer/activist (born 1980) is an American writer. She is the author of So You Want to Talk About Race and has written for The Guardian, Jezebel, The Stranger, Medium, and The Establishment, where she was also an editor-at-large. Born in Denton, Texas, and based in Seattle, Washington, in 2015, Oluo was named one of the most influential people in Seattle, and in 2018, she was named one of the 50 most influential women in Seattle. Her writing covers racism, misogynoir, intersectionality, online harassment, the Black Lives Matter movement, economics, parenting, feminism, and social justice. She gained prominence for articles critiquing race and the invisibility of women's voices, like her April 2017 interview with Rachel Dolezal, published in The Stranger. (source)
Robert Sengstacke Abbott - journalist (December 24, 1870 – February 29, 1940) was an American lawyer, newspaper publisher and editor. Abbott founded The Chicago Defender in 1905, which grew to have the highest circulation of any black-owned newspaper in the country. An early adherent of the Baháʼí Faith in the United States, Abbott founded the Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic in August 1929. (source)
Jean-Michel Basquiat - artist (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist who rose to success during the 1980s as part of the Neo-expressionism movement. Basquiat's art focused on dichotomies such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. He appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique. (source)
Dasia Taylor - scientist (born April 6, 2004) is a teenage scientist and inventor. Taylor is best known for her experiment where she juiced at least three dozen beets in the last 18 months based on a project she began in October 2019 when she was 15 years old. Taylor discovered that beets changed color at the perfect pH point. Her discovery showed that these root vegetables could provide surgical suture thread that could change color from bright red dark to dark purple to reflect the healing of an infected wound. Taylor was then able to find a suture thread that would hold on to the beet dye by testing ten different materials. (source)
Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks - photographer (November 30, 1912 – March 7, 2006) was an American photographer, composer, author, poet, and film director, who became prominent in U.S. documentary photojournalism in the 1940s through 1970s—particularly in issues of civil rights, poverty and African Americans—and in glamour photography. He is best remembered for his iconic photos of poor Americans during the 1940s (taken for a federal government project), for his photographic essays for Life magazine, and as the director of the films Shaft, Shaft's Big Score and the semiautobiographical The Learning Tree. (source)


For more information and research of African American studies please see our subject guide and research guide.

Film Showings

All month long, we will show films featuring African American lead characters as part of the Our Faces in Film series. Join us for great films and snacks!

Youth Black History Month Events
No events at this branch
Adult Black History Month Events
No events at this branch

Last updated: January 2023