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Black History Month: Activists

Provides information about Black History Month and some notable African Americans from throughout history.

Harriet Tubman

Photograph of Harriet Tubman

This photograph of Harriet Tubman was taken circa 1885 and is exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery.

Photograph of a Young Harriet Tubman

This photograph of a younger Harriet Tubman was taken circa 1868 and is part of the National Museum of African American History and Culture's collection.

Photograph of an Older Harriet Tubman

This photograph of an older Harriet Tubman was taken circa 1908 and is part of the National Museum of African American History and Culture's collection.

Why are they important?

Harriet Tubman is most well-known for her involvement in the Underground Railroad. Born a slave, Harriet Tubman eventually escaped slavery and dedicated her new-found freedom to assisting other slaves with their own escapes. Later on, Harriet Tubman served as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War. Tubman was also an avid activist in the fight for women's suffrage (the right to vote). 

Books from our Collection

Click on the title of each book to be taken to our catalog where you can place a hold with your library card.

Watch an illustrated history of Harriet Tubman's life

Additional Resources

Check out the following websites for more information about Harriet Tubman:

  • National Geographic Kids
    Gives a brief history of Harriet Tubman's work as a conductor for the Underground Railroad and as a spy for the Union Army.
  • Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway
    A driving tour through Maryland and Delaware that marks some of the important locations that Harriet Tubman visited during her lifetime.
  • Biography
    Provides an overview of Harriet Tubman's life and includes quick facts, famous quotes, photos, and videos.
  • America's Library
    A series of stories about Harriet Tubman's life and accomplishments written by the Library of Congress for young audiences.

Frederick Douglass

Photograph of Frederick Douglass

This photograph of Frederick Douglass was taken circa 1856 and is exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery.

Painting of Frederick Douglass

This painting of Frederick Douglass was created circa 1844 and is exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery.

Photograph of an Older Frederick Douglass

This photograph of Frederick Douglass was taken circa 1876 and is exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery.

Why are they important?

Frederick Douglass began life as a slave, but was hungry for knowledge so he taught himself how to read and write. After escaping slavery, Douglass became an activist in the fight to abolish (or end) slavery. He wrote several books and papers about his experiences as a slave. The most famous book he wrote was called Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Frederick Douglass was also an activist for women's suffrage (the right to vote) and believed in equal rights for all people, regardless of their race or gender.

Books from our Collection

Click on the title of each book to be taken to our online catalog where you can place a hold with your library card.

Watch this cartoon biography about Frederick Douglass

View this video on the TedEd website to dig deeper into the topic.

Additional Resources

Check out the following websites for more information about Frederick Douglass:

  • National Geographic Kids
    Provides a brief overview of Frederick Douglass's life and major accomplishments.
  • Virtual Museum Exhibit
    This virtual exhibit managed by the National Park Service gives some information about Frederick Douglass's life and hosts a virtual tour of his home at Cedar Hill, Anacostia in Washington, D.C. where he spent the last years of his life.
  • Biography
    Provides an overview of Frederick Douglass's life and accomplishments, as well as quick facts, famous quotes, photos, and videos.
  • America's Library
    A series of stories about Frederick Douglass written by the Library of Congress for young audiences.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr.

This photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. was taken in 1964 when he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent approach to protesting racism in the United States.

Photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington

This photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. was taken on August 28, 1964 during the Civil Rights March on Washington, D,C and is maintained by the National Archives.

Photograph of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.

This photograph shows the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial located in Washington, D.C. and was taken by your friendly LibGuide creator during a visit in 2017. On the side of the memorial, a quote by Dr. King is engraved - "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." Click on the image to learn more about the creation of this memorial.

Why are they important?

Martin Luther King, Jr. was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Dr. King believed in nonviolence and organized many protests, marches, and boycotts in an effort to bring attention to the issues of inequality between black and white Americans. He is most well-known for the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech (which you can listen to below). Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated every year on Dr. King's birthday - January 15.

Books from our Collection

Click on the title of each book to be taken to our online catalog where you can place a hold with your library card.

Watch Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech

Read the full text of the speech courtesy of the National Archives.

Additional Resources

Check out the following websites for more information about Martin Luther King, Jr.:

  • 10 Facts About Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Learn ten facts about Martin Luther King, Jr., such as his birth name being Michael King.
  • National Geographic Kids
    Provides a brief overview of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life and accomplishments.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
    Learn more about the memorial for Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C. including the story of how it was built.
  • Biography
    Provides an overview of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life and accomplishments and includes quick facts, famous quotes, photos, and videos.
  • America's Library
    A series of stories about Martin Luther King, Jr. written by the Library of Congress for young audiences.