February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Black History Month began in 1926 as part of an initiative by writer and educator Dr. Carter G. Woodson, and since 1976, every American president has proclaimed February as Black History Month. In honor of the successes and advancements Black Americans have achieved and contributed to society, check out these local ways to celebrate Black history and learn in 2023.
There's much to enjoy at Wealthy Theatre all month long, from the Academy Award-winning Summer of Soul on February 7 and French/Finnish film Le Havre on February 19, to Denzel Washington's Malcom X on February 21 and Pam Grier's Jackie Brown closing out the month on February 28.
BLACK HISTORY WALKING TOUR
Hosted by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. as part of the World of Winter programming are various Black History Walking Tours, including one on February 4—Rosa Parks' birthday. These tours specifically examine Grand Rapids' African American population from 1826 to present day. To see specific dates and more details, visit World of Winter.
GRAND RAPIDS PUBLIC LIBRARY
At various locations throughout the city during the month of February, Grand Rapids Public Library is hosting Black History Month Storytimes, designed for children age five and under. The events will highlight Black stories and include songs, fingerplays and hands-on fun, with classes ending with a special art activity and playtime. To learn more and explore additional Black History Month programming from GRPL, visit their Facebook event page.
GRAND RAPIDS AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM & ARCHIVES
A visit to the Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives is a definite must. It's here visitors could explore exhibits and galleries showcasing memorabilia, artifacts, art and imagery celebrating Black stories, lives, culture and history. Lead by Director and Curator, George A. Bayard III, GRAAMA is open year-round with programs and events for adults, children and families.
GRAND RAPIDS CIVIC THEATRE
Through February 5, visit Grand Rapids Civic Theatre to enjoy a performance of Once On This Island, a PG-rated musical that tells the tale of Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl in search of her place in the world, and ready to risk it all for love. The Broadway show garnered a combined 16 Tony nominations between the original production in 1990 and the 2017 revival which earned Best Revival of a Musical.
Of course, these are just a few options. Be sure to check out Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses for a directory of Black-owned businesses in the area to support all year round, and visit Experience Grand Rapids for even more local events and experiences centered on celebrating Black History Month.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.
Photo Courtesy of Picasa.