Jamie Kim / Gavel Media

Celebrating Black History Month

February is Black History Month, an annual observance that celebrates key people and events in the history of the African diaspora. Although 1926 saw the first observance of [N] History Week, which spotlighted the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, it was later replaced by the modern Black History Month in 1970. Over the past few decades, the sociocultural impact of Black History Month expanded to a global scale and is now officially observed in 5 different countries: the U.S., Canada, Ireland, the U.K., and the Netherlands.

Within the Boston area, dozens of organizations have been planning events to honor the Black community. From discussions led by BC’s own Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC)  to featured exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts, here is a collection of Black History Month programs accessible to all BC students:

In-person programming

1. The Museum of Afro-American History is home to four national historic sites, Boston’s Black Heritage Trail, and permanent exhibits on key figures in Black history. Open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., students can purchase tickets in advance to view the African Meeting House (the first African Baptist Church of Boston) and Abiel Smith School (the public school for Black children).

2. Walk Boston’s Black Heritage Trail.

3. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts to view the various Black history exhibits on show until the end of February. Sign up in advance and get your free ticket from Robsham Theatre.

4. The City of Boston has compiled a list of local parks that are relevant to key events in Black history, as well as a list of Black- and Brown-owned businesses operating in the area.

Virtual programming

1. On Saturday, Feb. 13 at 2:00 p.m., the Boston Public Library will host an African dance workshop led by local artist Wyoma. Join the event here.

2. On Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 6:00 p.m., the Boston Public Library will present an online program with The National Park Service to explore the history behind the 54th Massachusetts Regiment in the Civil War. Second only to the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment,  the 54th Massachusetts Regiment was an African-American unit that saw extensive action after being authorized by the Emancipation Proclamation. This event will also explore what happened to the regime after the Civil War ended. Register here to attend.

3. On Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 7:00 p.m., the Worcester Historical Museum and Worcester Black History Project will present a collection of photos featuring residents of color. Register here to attend.

4. On Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 6:00 p.m., the Boston Public Library will present Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter. Kerri Greenidge, Mellon Assistant Professor at Tufts University, will lead the talk on Trotter, who served as a political activist, Boston journalist, and radical advocate. People like Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are household names, and Greenidge argues that Trotter prefigured such leaders. For more information and to register to attend, click here.

5. On Thursday, Feb. 18 at 2:00 p.m., the Cambridge Public Library will invite storyteller Valerie Tutson to recount key texts from African and African diasporic literature. Register here to attend.

6. On Thursday, Feb. 18 at 4:00 p.m., the City of Boston will partner with three other Massachusetts organizations to showcase a collection of youth performances and a panel discussion on the contributions of Boston residents of color to the city. Register here to attend.

7. On Thursday, Feb. 18 at 4:00 p.m., the City of Boston will host a conversation with Matthew A. Cherry, former NFL wide receiver and writer and director of the Academy Award-winning animated short film Hair Love. Hair Love depicts the story of an African American father learning to style his daughter’s hair. Register here to attend.

8. On Thursday, Feb. 18 at 6:00 p.m., the Massachusetts Historical Society will host a panel discussion on Massachusetts’s connections to slavery. Academic and public historians alike will gather to discuss the pre-Civil War period and its lasting influence on class inequalities in Massachusetts today. Register here to attend. 

9. On Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:00 p.m., The Royall House and Slave Quarters will feature poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers in a conversation about Phillis Wheatly, the first Black woman to publish a book in America, and her influence on Black culture in the U.S. Register here to attend. 

10. On Thursday, Feb. 18 at 6:00 p.m., the Afrimerican Culture Initiative, a Boston-based nonprofit organization, will showcase various recipes in African culture and describe how they relate to recipes from the African continent. Register here to attend.

11. On Monday, Feb. 22 at 12:00 p.m., the Boston Athenaeum will present Curator's Choice: Athlete Frank Hart and America's Walking Craze, an exploration of competitive walking and its connections to Black history. In particular, this event will focus on the story of Haitian-American Frank Hart and his journey to success amid the pervasive racism of the late 19th century. Register here to attend.

12. On Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 6:00 p.m., the Boston Public Library will partner with three other Massachusetts organizations in a conversation about Black motherhood. The event will focus on the mothers of James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. to highlight the role of Black women in shaping the course of modern concepts of civil rights. Register here to attend.

13. On Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 6:00 p.m., the Royall House and Slave Quarters will premiere their new museum tour video and discuss the history of the North in relation to the global slave trade. Although the North is often considered a beacon of freedom away from Southern racism, this event will delve into the history of a local slave-trading family to highlight how Black Massachusetts residents contributed to their own eventual freeing. Register here to attend.

14. On Thursday, Feb. 25 at 6:00 p.m., the City of Boston will present their “Legacy Building” speaker series, a session that hopes to foster financial empowerment among Black residents; the series will feature four workshops on home buying, life insurance, entrepreneurship, and retirement. Register here to attend.

15. On Thursday, February 25 at 7:00 p.m., the Newton Free Library will host author and professor Davarian Baldwin as he tracks the progression of the Great Migration. This event will focus on the experiences of Black migrants as they travelled toward freedom and struggled with the de facto discrimination that replaced the explicit racism from their previous communities. Register here to attend.

For more virtual events outside the Boston area, reference this list by Black Gems Unearthed.

Other programming:

1. The Boston Public Library has compiled a “The Black is… Booklist,” a selection of titles that feature the Black experience. Find the compilation here.

2. Watch an educational video series about the Black History of Massachusetts, also by Black Gems Unearthed and available on YouTube.

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