Suggested Reading for African American Heritage Month

Our eMedia Catalog has a great selection of ebooks, eAudio, eMusic and eVideos for all ages.  Here’s a sample of what’s available for African American Heritage Month:



African American Heritage Month

Available in Credo Reference for African American Heritage Month:

Black Firsts -2003

An epic record of African American achievement, it testified to a rich but often overlooked part of our history. Jessie Carney Smith, William and Camille Cosby Professor of the Humanities at Fisk University, greatly expand the new edition with more than 1,000 new stories of a people overcoming adversity to emerge triumphant, including the recent successes of modern-day pioneers like Suzan-Lori Parks (winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for drama and Vonetta Flowers, the first African American to be awarded the Winter Olympic gold medal. Dr. Smith has revised and extended entries capturing remarkable episodes of discipline, will, transcendence, and belated recognition.

Readers will revel in the stories of barrier-breaking pioneers in all fields-arts, entertainment, business, civil rights, education, government, inventing, journalism, religion, science, sports, and more.

Don’t forget our series of Contemporary Black Biography (1992-2008) in Gale Virtual Reference Library

as well as:

Las Vegas History

Learn what life was like for African-Americans in Las Vegas, NV during the 1940s, 1950s & 1960s by viewing the oral histories of some long term residents of Las Vegas. Here’s a sampling:

  • Interview with Esther Taylor…
    Esther Taylor: Well, like what the conditions? You mean? With me it was fine, because like I said I was in the powder room and it was fine with me, I had no problem. Sam Boyd and Gil Gilbert were the owners of the Mint, and Sam Boyd, everybody was afraid of Mr. Boyd. Mr. Boyd, Ooh if he walked out they would say Ooh here come Mr. Boyd. I wasn’t. He didn’t bother me. He was just Mr. Boyd. He owned the Mint. I think he could see that or what ever. He took a liking to me. He would come and talk with me, and call me in his office. They would say “Mr. Boyd wants you.” And everybody, the porters and the maids they’d be standing around. “What did Mr. Boyd want, what did Mr. Boyd want?” He just wanted to talk. He wanted to know where I was from and when did I go to school at, those kind a questions.
  • Interview with Reverend Jesse Scott:…
    Reverend Scott: Well, the best thing about West Las Vegas is that they were able to get employment with the casinos as one of the reasons why they left the South during the late 20s the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Because they could get jobs that would pay more per hour than they could when they were in the South, and so the upside of West Las Vegas, the upside Las Vegas is that it offered opportunities for employment. The Down side is that nobody really encourages you to have advanced education to come out to people who own the businesses as they do in a lot of cities. The other down side is that many people feel that if they get a high school diploma they can drop out of school because they know that they can get a job on the Strip making 50-60 thousand dollars with a high school diploma if they good in mathematics and can count well. The down side of that is that if the person who come to the casino don’t like you and fire you – you have no protection then you on your own. We want people to stay in school and advance their education and be prepared no matter what the circumstances are in life you prepare to hold a job if you have advanced your education to that extent.
  • Interview with Walter Mason…
    Walter Mason: Do I know the exact day that I came to Las Vegas? Yes I do. I came to Las Vegas in 1968 with a very outstanding and foresighted young man who’s name was Sammy Davis Jr. I was his production manager of all of his shows and he gave me an opportunity and that’s why I knew he had foresight. He had a vision and it was not of just his desire to be on the stage and pleasing an audience. But he gave opportunities to Ozzie Davis, other great performers and actors who had a desire who had the preparation to become, and he gave them the opportunity. I recall a story that he once told me about Maya Angelou who was, at the time, desirous of playing a role in Porgy and Bess and the company that she was to begin playing Porgy in the production of Porgy and Bess because of her height, she had oversized, the need for oversized shoes and the producer said, “Well just do it in your bare feet.” He said, “No! Have some shoes made that would fit her.” And its this kind of overcoming an obstacle that is placed in your way and he had the vision to say, “No, if the boat doesn’t leave the coast first class then we will wait until it leaves first class.” He was empowering to me and inspiring to me that if you had the preparation, if you had the ability to become a production manager of his shows going on all over the world and you knew you had these qualities and you exhibited these qualities by making sure that the boat didn’t leave the dock until you had those abilities in line and in check and not allowing it to happen until that time. He was a visionary. Many people didn’t quite understand the Sammy Davis because he was always in “SHOWBUSINESS” but he also had a larger vision that needed the help of all of the people to make that happen.
  • Interview with Arthur Jordon…
    Natalie Robinson: Did O.J. Simpson working at the Ranch Market and how do you feel about what their doing to him today. Arthur Jordan: Yes, I remember O.J. as a young boy about 15 or 16 years old. He was quite an athlete at that time. He worked inside, I don’t remember exactly what he did but Mr. Lloyd Armstrong was his uncle and at that time he was just like any other 16 year old. Boys and girls that age they weren’t much different from the ones that you see now. They like to have fun the only thing the fun was cleaner. He liked girls, he liked to play basketball, liked to run. I just think what’s happened to him is kinda sad. The only thing I can say, I just wish he had stayed in Florida because Las Vegas is still a racist and a prejudiced town when it comes to Blacks. And those are my beliefs and I’m quite sure there are other Blacks who feel the same way. Things are much better but not as good as they should be.
  • Interview with Mrs. Bryant…
    Pa’Tina Horner: Can you tell me what the conditions were like on the jobs? Mrs. Bryant: We were like one big happy family. The African Americans who were working these jobs and the people who were over us treated us fairly well. I’ll never forget Mr. Al Benedict. He was the president of the Stardust hotel. He was a very good person to work with. He was president but he would come down and socialize with the rest of us, talk with us, and he was just a regular person. He didn’t act like he thought he was more than anybody else. Then he brought his son in to work and his son started right at the bottom as a dish washer but he soon elevated and got up farther but he started at the back. I don’t exactly know what you wanted to know about the work conditions but we worked. We knew we were making more money than we ever made before so it was alright to us. We worked out there at the hotels on the strip, downtown but as soon as we got threw working we knew we had to come back to West Las Vegas because we were not allowed to gamble. We were not allowed to see a show, we were not allowed to do anything but make it back to West Las Vegas and we had some good times in West Las Vegas on Jackson Street. We really had some good times, and we were just one big extended family. People from Louisiana, people from Arkansas, Most of us were from Louisiana and Arkansas and we would get together and on Saturday nights, Fridays nights and we would just visit one casino to the other one. The Louisiana Club, the Cotton Club, the La Morocco all those different clubs even the Brown Derby. When I first came here the Brown Derby was a nice place to go and socialize, it wasn’t all that fighting and going on then. We were just like one big extended family enjoying each other on Saturday nights they way we used to do in Louisiana and Arkansas.
  • Interview with Agnes Clay Marshall…
    Barbara Coleman: You worked at white Cross Drugs, what did you do at White Cross Drugs? Agnes Clay Marshall: I was washing dishes there, and Mr. and Mrs. Bruno would make the beautifulest pies. That’s why I think I learned how to make pies was seeing her do that. Mr. and Mrs. Bruno and they would make the pies and cook the food for the little restaurant in the White Cross Drugs there. And Blacks wasn’t supposed to, couldn’t come in there and sit down and eat. Because I was in there and Nat King Cole would have came in there and quite a few entertainers. They had to take their food to go. Yes. Made me feel bad but that was just the way that life was then. Back in ’64 or ’65 when they finally let me, I did the window dressing in the stores like Eadons, I forget those other little stores, Baines and all them. [I] would do the dummies, like window dressing. I did a lot of that. I liked that. So I was working there at Baines when they said that we could go on up to the drug store and eat. First place I went was went up to White Cross and sit at that counter! And I sit right beside a white guy and he got up, he didn’t want to sit next to me. I didn’t care I’m gonna sit here and I enjoyed my lunch. Well, and every day I would go up there and eat, and other places.

For the complete videos go to our eMedia Catalog by OverDrive and enter  West Las Vegas Oral History Teen Project download the videos and view.  For the researcher we have included a transcript of the video as well in the download.

Black History Month for Kids and Teens

Celebrate Black History Month with a selection of eBooks and eAudio Books in our eMedia collection from OverDrive.

Black Stars of Colonial and Revolutionary Times by Jim Haskins

Black Stars of the Harlem Renaissance by Jim Haskins

Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport

Only Passing Through by Anne Rockwell

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

Spotlight on Black History Month

Spotlight Quiz

Philosopher Alain L. Locke, born in Philadelphia in 1885, boasted many intellectual accomplishments: he attended Harvard University as an undergraduate student, was the first African-American student to be a Rhodes Scholar, and was a Howard University Professor of Philosophy until his death in 1954.

Locke’s many writings celebrated “cultural pluralism,” which has evolved into what contemporary concept?
A. Cultural relativism
B. Ethnocentrism
C. Global justice
D. Multiculturalism

For more resources on commemorating African-American history, heritage, culture, accomplishments and contributions see Spotlight on Black History Month in SIRS Knowledge Source.