More Than a Month widens the lens in 2019

The Color of Art still
Image courtesy of The Color of Art

It started as a way to celebrate the black experience all year long, and not just during Black History Month.

Now, almost 36 months later, the library’s More Than a Month series kicks off its fourth year with an expanded outlook and programs that promote conversation and year-round enrichment for all.

‘It’s both/and’

More Than a Month takes its name from the title of a 2011 documentary by Shukree Hassan Tilghman that explores the pros and cons of Black History Month in the 21st century. Arguing that black history is not separate from American history, the film questions whether Black History Month as traditionally observed in February (“the coldest, shortest month”) should be ended.

“We don’t see the choice as either/or,” said Maze Branch Supervisor Larry Nance. “It’s both/and. More Than a Month at the library celebrates Black History Month and engages in yearlong observances of black art, history, and culture.”

Black history is more than slavery and the civil rights movement, said Dole Branch Supervisor and More Than a Month co-creator Niki Yeldell. “It’s also more than the few people we talk about. And that’s not at all to diminish the work that people have done, like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. But it’s time to add another layer and talk about more people who made a difference.”

A global look for the new year

Since 2016, More Than a Month has covered topics such as health and wellness, and the Black Arts movement. In 2019, the series turns to the African diaspora, the mass scattering of peoples from Africa starting with the transatlantic slave trades.

“This year, we are bringing light to the experiences of people of African descent all around the world,” Yeldell said. “Not only in the United States, but also in places like Haiti, Cuba, South America, and Europe.”

Regular programming in 2019 includes film screenings, book discussions, natural hair meet-ups, and Black History Quiz Show parties. 

Films, books, artifacts, and more

First up is the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Film Festival, which starts Saturday, January 5. See and discuss films depicting a variety of lived experiences within the African diaspora, including Cry Freedom (set in apartheid South Africa) and The Ladies #1 Detective Agency (set in Botswana).

The monthly Afrofuturism Book Discussion Series starts Saturday, February 9. The genre includes books, such as Kindred by Octavia Butler, that combine both science fiction and fantasy, within the racial experiences of the African diaspora.

And on Wednesday, February 27, families with kids ages 5+ are invited to celebrate African diaspora communities in the Caribbean, South America, and beyond with artifacts, music, and stories from the library’s Multicultural Collection.