Visit Peoria Public Library during Black History Month and discover books and movies
that chronicle the strength, tenacity, joy and excellence of Black Americans throughout history.

Each location will feature its own unique book display as well as life-size icons you can come get your photo with, including legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman, Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., current Vice President Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama – just to name few. Selfies are encouraged!

In addition to books, Peoria Public Library will also show an acclaimed movie depicting real events and figures from Black History, every Saturday at North Branch from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Free and open to all.

Saturday, Feb. 4 – Harriet (PG-13)

This 2019 biographical film share the life story of the heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman, from her escape from slavery to the dangerous missions she led liberating hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad.

Saturday, Feb. 12 – Hidden Figures (PG)

This 2016 biographical drama is loosely based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about the African American female mathematicians who helped the U.S. and NASA reach the moon during the Space Race in the 1960s.

Saturday, Feb. 19 – Remember the Titans (PG)

This 2000 film tells the true story of a newly appointed African American high school football coach and the team’s first season as a racially integrated team.

Saturday, Feb. 26 – Just Mercy (PG-13)

This 2019 film is based on the memoir of American attorney Bryan Stevenson and his efforts to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner.

In addition to some recommended reads for Black History Month from Peoria Public Library staff (listed below), visit the School Library Journal for 28 nonfiction titles specifically for children and teens. Find those here

Celebrate Black Excellence for the Month of February and Beyond with Selected Titles by Award Winning African American Authors

Yellow Wife
A fresh telling to a story we think we already know, follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia. *Anticipated Historical Fiction of the year.

Sadeqa Johnson
Internationally best-selling author, including Recipient of the National Book Club Award, the Phillis Wheatley Award & USA Best Book Award for best fiction.

Black Buck
Meet Buck an unambitious twenty-two-year old living with his mother and working at Starbucks. All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, CEO of NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in Darren joining the elite sales team. An earnest work of satire, Black Buck is a hilarious razor-sharp take on office culture that explores ambition and race, and makes way for a necessary new vision of the American dream.

Mateo Askaripour
New York Times Best-Selling Author

The Underground Railroad: A Novel
This story re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era that weaves in the sage of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman’s will to escape the horrors of bondage and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Colson Whitehead
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award

The Vanishing Half
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. This emotional family story and exploration of the American history of passing looks well beyond issues of race. It is about influences that shape a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations to live as something other than their origins.

Brit Bennett
2021 Women’s Prize Finalist, #1 New York Times Bestseller, Named Best Book of 2020 by New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, People, Time Magazine, Vanity Fair, Glamour & one of President Barack Obama’s Favorite Book of the Year.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
This is an eye-opening account of people and history, and a re-examination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today and throughout its history, has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Isabel Wilkerson
Pulitzer Prize Winner, #1 New York Times Bestseller, National Book Award Longlist, #1 Nonfiction Book of the Year by Time, One of the Ten Best Books of the Year by – People, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, NPR, The Oprah Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, The New York Public Library, New York Post, Library Journal, & Kirkus Reviews.

In her memoir, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it, in her own words and on her own terms. This is a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her life from childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time at the White House.

Michelle Obama
#1 New York Times Bestseller, NAACP Image Award Winner, The Emmy-Nominated Netflex Original Documentary, Oprah’s Book Club Pick, One of Essence’s 50 Most Impactful Black Books of the Past 50 Years.

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019
This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present. This one-volume of community history have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. They approach history from various perspectives, such as historical icons, the untold stories of ordinary people, through places, laws, and objects.

Ibram X Kendi & Keisha N. Blain
#1 New York Times Bestseller, Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race
Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin – these new groundbreaking essays and poems about racism and race are thoughtful, intense, and at times, hopeful. Other voices included in this anthology: Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, and Honoree Jeffers. This book shines a light on the darkest corners of our history, current predicaments, and imagines of a better future.

Jesmin Ward
New York Times Bestseller, National Book Award Winner.

The Fire Next Time
James Baldwin wrote eloquently, thoughtfully, and passionately on the subject of race in America in novels, essays, and plays. He is best known for his books of essays, for Notes of a Native Son (1955), Nobody Knows My Name (1961), & The Fire Next Time (1963). This book consists of two letters written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of literature.

James Baldwin
Winner of Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts United States & Canada, National Bestseller when first appeared in 1963.

Long Time Coming: Reckoing with Race in America
This book focus is on cultural and social forces that have shaped our nation from genealogy anti-blackness, slave ship, to the street corner where George Floyd lost his life and where America gained its will to confront the ugly truth of systemic racism. Ending with a plea for hope.

Michael Eric Dyson
New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, Indiebound, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chronicle Herald, Salisbury Post, Guelph Mercury Tribune, and Boston Globe Bestseller.

The Hill WE Climb
An Inaugural Poem for the country. This poem is captivating and hopeful for the future, calling on unity and healing. Celebrating the promise of America and in true form the power of the spoken word in poetry.

Amanda Gorman
#1 New York Times Bestseller, #1 USA Today Bestseller.

The Son of Mr. Suleman
This powerful read explores racism, colorism, life as a mixed raced person, cultural differences, politics, family legacies, perceptions, the impact of enslavement and Jim Crow, and much more. This is an outstanding story, page-turner and intense read that you will not be able to put down.

Eric J Dickey
New York Times Bestseller, Named USA Today’s 100 Black Novelists and Fiction Authors You Should Read, New York Post’s Best New Books to Read.

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina
History making ballerina Misty Copeland recounts the story of her journey to become the first African-American principal ballerina at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. From her love of ballet and her harsh realities in her community, she embraced them both to become one of the most groundbreaking dancers in America. (Young Readers Edition)

Misty Copeland
New York Times Bestselling and Prize-Winning Memoir.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
This is the story of the great migration of black citizens who fled from the south and went north in search of a better life. The mass migration of African Americans out of the south changed this country’s cultural setting forever. Based on interviews, data, and official records comes the story of three uniquely individuals and their stories of sacrifice and hope.

Isabel Wilkerson
Pulitzer Prize Winner.

A Promised Land
Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, and the expectations of a generation on the messaging of delivering hope and change. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about living in the White House and how it affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal his self-doubt. However, he never waivers from his beliefs and always believes progress is always possible.

Barack Obama
#1 New York Times Bestseller, NAACP Image Award Nominee, Named One on the Ten Best Books of the Year by New York Times Book Review, Named One of the Best Books of the Year by: The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, The Guardian, Marie Claire.

Hell of a Book
This storyline takes place with a Black author who sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. Also meet Soot, a young Black boy living in rural town, and The Kid who maybe is an imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour. It’s also about tragic police shooting and what it can mean to be Black in America.

Jason Mott
2021 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, 2021 National Book Award Winner, Longlisted for the 2022 Carnegie Medal Fiction, 2021 Joyce Carol Oates Prize, 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize, New York Times Bestselling Author, Entertainment Weekly’s 15 Books you Need to Read, New York Post’s Best Summer Reading Books, USA Today’s 5 Books Not to Miss.

Blood Grove
Detective Easy Rawlins will need the help of his friends, from the genius Jackson Blue to the dangerous Mouse Alexander, Fearless Jones, and Christmas Black to make sense of a case that reveals the darkest impulses that humans harbor. This novel takes place in 1969 in California one night when a Vietnam veteran ask for help from Easy, due to his missing friend and a murder that he isn’t sure of committing.

Walter Mosley
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work 2021, 2010, 2008, Edgar Award for Best Novel, Nero Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction, Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award, a Grammy, PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Call Us What We Carry
This book sets the tone for the times that we live in now. The wrought from the pandemic and a country in crisis. However, while this book reflects on the here and now it gives enduring themes of hope and healing for future generations to come.

Amanda Gorman
Youngest Presidential Inaugural Poet, Urban World named her the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, The Hill We Climb debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller.