Black History Month is in the Building
By KJ EDWARDS
Carter G. Woodson, is the “Father of Black History,” and we owe the Harvard-educated historian the honor of sowing the seeds for Black History Month. What began as Negro History week is now nationally recognized, with February 1 marking the first day of the month that centers African Americans exclusively.
Parents and teachers will likely break out Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s tamest quotes, complete with coloring sheets. They’ll sprinkle a little talk about Rosa Parks’ refusal to give her seat to a white person and will share an anecdote or two about how Harriet Tubman freed slaves—then voila!—Black History Month will totally be complete!
This year take it upon yourself as parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or whatever relation you have with a brown baby and get creative. Across the U.S., there are places dedicated solely to Black history; most are offering live interactive fun in honor of Black History Month.
Check out this list of cool attractions that mix art and Black history:
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre: Established in 1958 by Alvin Ailey, the dance theatre has become a staple in Black culture. The award-winning production “Revelations,” choreographed by Ailey, is a staple in its repertoire.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Harlem, New York hosts the Schomburg. Established 92 years ago, the collections range from documentation on Black American history, as well as research on the entire Black Diaspora.
Studio Museum Harlem: Founded in 1968 to aid and abet Black artists in honing their craft and showing their work, the Studio Museum still operates in that model. It is literally history in action. Visit and see the beauty of Black history unfold before your eyes.
The Dusable: Considered Chicago’s museum of African American history, the Dusable is the go-to for research and visual art depicting Black experiences.
Motown Museum: Hitsville U.S.A. housed Motown Museum. Visitors will be inundated with Motown history, memorabilia and, most importantly, the music.
Center For Civil and Human Rights: Along with their regular installments, offer a meet and greet with Black olympians, screenings of historical documentaries, and displays by modern Black artists.
The King Center: Dedicated to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King, the major feature of the center is the birth home of Dr. King, which is located less than a block away from the center. Both Martin and Coretta have been laid to rest at the King Center. Every brown baby should visit at least once.
Southwest Arts Center: “Bright Black,” a powerful art exhibition by print artist, Jamaal Barber, is on full display for the entire Black History Month. The show centers Blackness as the most valuable component of African-American identity and America’s identity as well.
George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum: Located in Dothan, Alabama, this museum is not just History as usual. Its exhibits bring history to life. It also features a standing exhibit of Dr. Carver, which shares a comprehensive history as well. The museum features the works of living Black artists quarterly.
Ernest J. Gaines Center: Located on University of Louisiana, Lafayette campus, the Gaines Center is a wonderful research library dedicated to the work Ernest J. Gaines. Gaines’ literary works are based specifically on the African American experience in the rural South.
Whitney Plantation: This plantation museum is entirely dedicated to slave history in Louisiana. The New Orleans plantation has a 262-year history. Prepare to be learned.Carter G. Woodson, is the “Father of Black History.” We owe the Harvard educated historian the honor of sowing the seeds for Black History Month. Click To Tweet
National Great Blacks in Wax Museum: This Baltimore museum is unique. It depicts Black history through the art of wax—beginning with the Middle Passage. At times, the wax figures and narratives are graphic and may not be appropriate for young children, so parental advisory is necessary. Still a must see.
Reginald F. Lewis Museum: This museum will celebrate the 200th birthday of Maryland abolitionist Frederick Douglass with an array of activities honoring the iconic statesman on February 10th. They are currently showing a special exhibition of “Reflections: Intimate portraits of Iconic African Americans.”
National Museum of African American History and Culture: Since its opening in 2016, securing tickets to the NMAAHC has been tricky. Yet it is still possible to get free timed passes. Gaze upon every aspect of our history – activism, sports, music, dance and invention. The museum is a vast undertaking of Black history so be prepared to spend a full day—a slave day,as in 10 to 12 hours. Wear comfortable shoes, too.
African American Museum & Library at Oakland: This Bay area museum and library is the equivalent of Schomburg Research Library in New York and Auburn Research Center in Atlanta. It fully serves its Black community, providing education and history of Black experience. For Black History Month, it is running two documentaries focused on Black WWII veterans and an exhibition titled, “Today’s Victory is Tomorrow’s Legacy: Ruby Bridges’ Victory Made a Difference for All.”
Black Theatre Troupe: This non-profit group is located in Arizona. They perform works written by August Wilson and Pearl Cleage. If you find yourself in the dry state, fall in.
California African American Museum: Roger Guenveur Smith (School Daze, Do The Right Thing, Get On The Bus, Malcolm X, American Gangster, Dope) will do his solo performance, “Frederick Douglass Now,” to celebrate Douglass’ 200th bicentennial. Douglass portraits are hung among other historically Black theatrical portraits that were hand-drawn by the actor.
Days are flying by and each day brown babies filled with #BlackGirlMagic and #Blackboyjoy are making history—living history. While this list was made to inform brown babies of the past, let’s not forget to hip them to the future. Black creatives like Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay are making history with their respective films, Black Panther and A Wrinkle In Time. Take the kiddos out for a fun movie night and let them see and experience what making history actually looks like! Show them that Black people not only built this nation, but that we continue to shape its culture as well.