|Portrait of Arturo A. Schomburg|
In honor of Black History Month, today I'm sharing with you, the remarkable Arturo Schomburg. He was an Afro-Latino from Puerto Rico whose foresight and diligence helped create and establish the largest collection dedicated to Africans and the African diaspora. To learn about other remarkable Latinos, read Latinos in History Your Children Should Know.
Who was Arturo Schomburg?
Yesterday was the birthday of the remarkable historian and activist, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. Born in Puerto Rico, he was only in the fifth grade when his teacher told him that black people had no history, nor heroes, nor any achievements. This was, perhaps, the most defining moment of his life, since he carried that memory with him and dedicated his life to researching and collecting literature, art, and artifacts related to Africans and the African diaspora.
The self-described "Afroborinqueño" was only 17 years old when he left his beloved island and settled in New York. There he continued his education and developed his activism by advocating for Puerto Rican and Cuban independence. In 1911, he co-founded the Negro Society for Historical Research. He began writing scholarly papers about Caribbean and African-American history. In recognition of his work and efforts, he was elected president of the American Negro Academy.
But perhaps his greatest accomplishment was his personal collection mentioned above. When it grew too large for his home, the New York Public Library purchased it. At the time, the collection contained more than 10,000 documents. Schomburg continued to grow the collection as its curator. And today, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is considered the leading research center for African studies with more than 10 million items.
These are but highlights of his life. I encourage you to learn more about this historical figure.
A Children's Book about Schomburg
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library
Schomburg: El hombre que creó una biblioteca (Spanish Edition)
A fabulous picture book about Schomburg with excellent illustrations by Eric Velasquez. The book chronicles Arturo's adventures from when he was a young boy up through adulthood. And it is all written in free verse poetry, which makes it even more special.
Lesson Plans for Elementary
- Candlewick has this excellent lesson plan to accompany the book mentioned above.
- Mint & Bloom Learning on TpT has this downloadable lesson
- TeachingBooks also has a wonderful collection of resources.
Arturo Schomburg Reading Passage
Teach your children/students about this remarkable historical figure with my Arturo Schomburg 1-Page Reading Passage. They'll learn about the amazing contribution he made to our country's national library system AND nation's history. This informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade. It includes a 7-question comprehension quiz plus answer key.
Includes two versions: one in ENGLISH and the other in SPANISH.
For further research, I recommend these family-friendly videos that feature Schomburg...