Start your own black history studies

To discover black history, get started by visiting libraries, especially those serving black communities; black museums and cultural centers; black college campuses; black student centers and libraries at colleges; black-oriented bookstores. Attend special programs.

The best-known museums are in New York, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Washington. New ones like the Ohio Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center are coming up fast. Now housed in the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, it will be permanently located on the campus of Wilberforce University , the nation's oldest college that was founded (1856) by blacks.

Scan black periodicals like Ebony magazine and key newspapers such as the Chicago Daily Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier, the Afro-American, and the new National Leader. They are usually found in the racks of most libraries in black communities. Other periodicals include the Journal of Negro History, published by the Association for the Study and Life of the Negro, the Black Scholar, and the Black Collegian.

For a do-it-yourself first step toward more serious study read books like ''Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America,'' by Lerone Bennett, and other books published by the Johnson Publishing Company, or the two-volume study ''Contributions of Black Women to America,'' by Marianna W. Davis, a Benedict College professor. Also, some printed by black publishers such as the Howard University Press.

The better books contain extensive bibliographies of histories, studies, periodical and newspaper stories, and unpublished papers. Among the more challenging references are ''They Came Before Columbus,'' by Ivan Van Sertima; ''From Slavery to Freedom'' and other writings by John Hope Franklin; a four-volume ''Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States,'' by Herbert Aptheker; and numerous books and writings by W. E. B. Du Bois.

And new books are being published: ''Black Children: Their Roots, Culture, and Learning Styles,'' by Janice E. Hale; ''Black Life in Corporate America: Swimming in the Mainstream,'' by George Davis and Glegg Watson; ''Managing Crisis Cities,'' by Bette Woody.

In-depth study may be formally acquired through college black studies programs at some 500 colleges, down from a peak of 1,000.

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