Black History Month Events: West Michigan

Engage with the West Michigan Woman Community!

The month of February is devoted to celebrating the many contributions of black Americans throughout our nation's history. West Michiganders can honor these contributions by attending the many educational and celebratory events in our area. There are also online resources that can help you learn more about the significant role these individuals played. We hope you and your family enjoy these events.

GRAND RAPIDS PUBLIC LIBRARY | Downtown Grand Rapids, 111 Library Street NE

Before the Blues: A Musical Workshop with Reverend Robert Jones
Tuesday, February 16, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Blues music was the dominant popular music style of the 20th century. The Before the Blues workshop will explore subjects such as the "field holler," work songs, lullabies, traditional banjo, fiddle, quills and guitar music, spirituals and dance music.

Women of Color in the Workplace: Building a Career
Thursday, February 18, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

This interactive panel discussion will feature women of color from our community. These women will speak about their wide range of experiences and talk about what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace. Panelists will include: Sonia Dalmia, Economics Professor, GVSU; Mary Hartfield, Program Manager, GROW; and Mindy Ysasi, Executive Director, The SOURCE. Jeanessa Fenderson, Grand Rapids Public Library Brand Manger, will moderate this open discussion.

Taste of Soul Sunday
Sunday, February 21, 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

This event celebrating African-American history and culture is open to the public, adults and kids alike. Young ones will enjoy the chance to make an African necklace, jazz poster and a Kente cloth placemat.

1 p.m. Sweet Willie Singleton, trumpeter
1:30 p.m. Nola Adé, vocalist
1:30 p.m. Inside a 1950s Black Barbershop with Daniel Groce, Jr.
2:15 p.m. Fable the Poet and guests
2:30 p.m. In the Tradition, jazz musicians
3 p.m. Inside a 1950s Black Barbershop with Daniel Groce, Jr.
3:30 p.m. Asamu Johnson, blues musician
3:45 p.m. Fable the Poet and guests

All-Day Kid's Activities

Click here to learn more about the individual programs at the Grand Rapids Public Library.


Grand Valley State University Events

Rosa Parks: A Modern Day Heroine

Tuesday, February 9, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Russel H. Kirkhof Center 1201

Rosa Parks: A Modern Day Heroine is a video presentation that highlights the contributions of Rosa Parks.

Positive Black Woman Presents: A Tribute to Black Women: Strong, Fierce and Dynamic Divas
Thursday, February 11, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Russel H. Kirkhof Center, Pere Marquette

An annual event hosted by GVSU, Positive Black Women honors and recognizes those who have made a way and shaped "our" history. All are welcomed to attend. Lunch will be provided.

Professionals of Color Lecture Series: David Branner
Monday, February 15, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Russel H. Kirkhof Center Grand River Room

Conversations of Color: Black Representation on TV
Tuesday, February 16, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Russel H. Kirkhof Center 1240

Come watch clips from some of your favorite shows and participate in a dialogue about how the black experience is represented on Television.

Black Movie Wednesdays: School Daze
Wednesday, February 17, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Russel H. Kirkhof Center 2263

The February 17 feature is School Daze, by acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee.

Taste of Soul
Friday, February 19, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Russel H. Kirkhof Center Lobby

Share in the deep Southern African-American tradition of soul food.

Jazz and the Civil Rights Movement
Wednesday, February 24, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Cook DeWitt Center

The primary goal of the jazz performance is to provide an understanding and appreciation of this art form, its historical significance and its role in the peaceful existence of mankind.


Western Michigan University Events

Film Screening and Discussion

Tuesday, February 9, 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
1750 Sangren Hall

Filmmaker Curtis Chin's new documentary, Tested, follows a dozen racially and socio-economically diverse eighth-graders as they fight for a seat at one of the New York City's elite schools. Their only way in is to ace a standardized test.

Black History Month Discussion Series
Tuesday, February 9, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Tuesday, February 23, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Adrian Trimpe Hall, Multicultural Center

Interactive Workshop with Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Wednesday, February 10, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Adrian Trimpe Hall, Multicultural Center

Film Screening: At the River I Stand
Thursday, February 11 – 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
Friday, February 12 – 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m.
Adrian Trimpe Hall, Multicultural Center

At the River I Stand covers Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1968 Sanitation Workers' Strike.


In addition to attending Black History Month events, you and your family can learn more about this important topic from the comfort of your own home—thanks to the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Click here to access the Newseum's online learning resources. 

Written by Lisa Stickler, staff writer for West Michigan Woman magazine.


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