Honor and explore the pasts, presents and futures of African Americans with free library programs and events.
During Black History Month, which is celebrated in February, and beyond, Fairfax County Public Library branches are hosting free events and programs for all ages that highlight and explore the deep and diverse history and invaluable contributions and achievements of African Americans. From author talks and history lectures to movies, performances and more, a wide range of programs are taking place throughout the next few months. Plus, February's Outstanding Reads recommendations from our Collections staff focus on Black authors and stories — read them on FairfaxTimes.com.
Check out the highlights of the schedule below. Asterisk (*) indicates registration required. For a full list of events, view the library’s online calendar.
Consider the Census
As the 2020 census approaches, the library is focusing on the importance of census records not only to determining funding for our public institutions, but also to tracing family histories — including those of African Americans. Visit the library’s Virginia Room, located in the City of Fairfax Regional Library, to discover historic photographs and census records of African American residents of the county.
The Virginia Room maintains a collection—including maps, an extensive photographic archive, local newspapers and yearbooks, manuscript collections and rare books—documenting the historical record of the people, associations, events and places of Fairfax County, Virginia. Researchers can also use print holdings and online databases to research genealogy from all 50 states.
Find booklists for African American family and cultural history in our genealogy research guide.
Join Us for Events All Month and Beyond
- Celebrate Black History Month
February during open hours at Patrick Henry Library
Drop into Patrick Henry's children's area all month long for coloring sheets, word searches, crossword puzzles and other activities celebrating Black History Month, also referred to as African American History Month. Grades K-6.
- Adventures in History: Civil Rights Movement
Tuesday, February 11, 4:30 p.m. at Dolley Madison Library
Step back in the time to learn about the Civil Rights Movement. Learn history through art, games, stories and skill building exercises. Costumes encouraged. Space is limited. Ages 6-12.
- Black History Month Movie: The Express
Friday, February 14, 1 p.m. at Martha Washington Library
Watch the fact-based saga of college football star Ernie Davis (Rob Brown), the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. Rated PG. Teens and adults.
- Bright Star Theatre Presents: African Folktales
Saturday, February 15, 2 p.m. at Oakton Library
From the desert lands of the Sahara to the plains of the Serengeti to Mount Kilimanjaro and beyond—join a variety of characters from a wide range of cultures in stories that celebrate the various folk tale traditions of the continent of Africa. African music helps to set the stage for these energetic stories which include Anansi, porquoi tales and many facts and figures about this incredible continent. Grades K-6.
- Podcast Club: Historically Black
Wednesday, February 19, 6:30 p.m. at Reston Regional Library
If you enjoy bite-size stories that you can listen to, join the Podcast Club to discuss a monthly selection of podcasts. With selections of fiction and non-fiction, politics and poetry, there is much to talk about. This month's podcast is “Historically Black: The Washington Post's coverage of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture." You can listen on a computer or a mobile device through any of several free apps. Every month listen to at least four episodes of your choosing of the podcast. Adults.
- Researching Enslaved Ancestors & Finding Calvin: A Case Study
Saturday, February 22, 10:30 a.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
Explore resources to locate and learn about the lives of enslaved people with genealogist Renate Sanders. Researching Enslaved Ancestors, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Finding Calvin: A Case Study, 12-1 p.m. Learn tools and strategies from the general to the specific for identifying and documenting the lives of enslaved people. Adults and teens.
- Burke Historical Society Presents: Enslaved Women and Midwifery in Early America
Sunday, February 23, 3:30 p.m. at Pohick Regional Library
Sara Collini, a doctoral candidate in history at GMU, shares her research on enslaved women’s role as midwives in Fairfax County and the Chesapeake from 1750 to 1820. Adults.
- I Am Ali: A Documentary Film
Monday, February 24, 7 p.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
Join us for the first in a two-part documentary movie series in recognition of African American History Month. "I Am Ali" tells the story of Mohammed Ali's life through voice recordings and interviews from Ali's personal archives. PG. 1 hr 52 mins. Teens and adults
- Civil Rights in Alexandria: Audrey P. Davis
Tuesday, February 25, 7 p.m. at Patrick Henry Library
Audrey P. Davis, director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, addresses the local history of civil rights in Alexandria. Sponsored by Vienna AAUW. Adults.
- Thunder Soul: A Documentary Film
Wednesday, February 26, 7 p.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
Join us for the second in a two-part documentary movie series in recognition of African American History Month. "Thunder Soul" is a tribute to the man who turned Houston's Kashmere High School Stage Band into a funk powerhouse in the early 1970s. "Prof" Johnson's students gather 35 years later to celebrate the man who taught them about honor and pride. PG. 1 hr. 23 mins. Teens and adults
- Black History Month Movie: Harriet
Friday, February 28, 1 p.m. at Martha Washington Library
Watch the incredible true story of Harriet Tubman and her quest to lead hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Rated PG-13. Teens and adults.
- Nikki Giovanni: An Afternoon of Poetry, Love and Enlightenment*
Sunday, March 1, 2 p.m. at The Alden, McLean Community Center
Acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni shares her eloquent words of wisdom, spanning topics from the civil rights movement and politics to love, art and more. Discussing the ideals of equality in her dramatic oratory, she shares the experiences and thoughtful poetry that embody her activism and legacy of passion for the arts. Cosponsored by The Alden. Books available for sale and signing. Adults. Tickets for the pre-event VIP reception at Dolley Madison Library and for VIP seating at The Alden are available at fairfaxlibraryfoundation.org.
- Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home
Saturday, March 7, 10:30 a.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
Stolen is the true story of five boys who were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South—and of their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice. Join us for a talk on this award winning book by author Richard Bell, Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland.
- African American Genealogy Study/Special Interest Group*
Monday, March 16, 7 p.m. at Centreville Regional Library
Join fellow genealogists researching African American ancestors in this facilitated study/special interest group. Share your brick wall challenges and research success stories. We'll learn from each other. A Centreville Regional Library, Virginia Room and Fairfax Genealogical Society program. Adults.
- History of the African American Spirituals
Tuesday, March 31, 1 p.m. at Reston Community Center
Calvin Earl, spokesman for African American Spirituals as a National Treasure, will share stories and songs of how enslaved ancestors embedded their oral history into spirituals for safekeeping. Cosponsored by Reston Regional Library and Reston Community Center. Adults.
- Cemeteries Tell No Lies: Finding Living Relatives in the Cemetery
Saturday, April 18, 10:30 a.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
A cemetery is a place where we bury our loved ones. It is a place that we visit our loved ones on special occasions, but it is also a place we can find living relatives. Join us for a lecture by award winning researcher of African American history and genealogy Char McCargo Bah. Adults and teens.