Black History Month Celebrations

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

Some City of Santa Monica Information included and more! Information compiled from various websites from the following authors: Wendy Kennar, Delana Gbenekama and Alisa Orduna. Muir PTA is not the author of this list, but sharing this list to community.

February 4

The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity The City of Santa Monica is hosting “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” an online event happening on Thursday, February 4th from 10:30 am to 11:30 am. This special event will commemorate Rosa Parks Day, and features a “discussion by local families highlighting the diversity, identity and history of Santa Monica’s Black community.” The event will also feature dance performances as well as special small segments “highlighting the cooking traditions of Black families.” RSVP to receive the link to this free event.

What: The Divine Nine: Commitment to Community Service Where: Santa Monica City Hall When: Tuesday, February 4 at 10:30 a.m. Description: Join us to kick off Black History Month on Rosa Parks Day. This event celebrates the historical significance of Black fraternities and sororities in African-American life, and their strong commitment to community service. Local leaders will speak about their Divine Nine experiences. There will also be a step show performance. Divine Nine members are encouraged to wear their Greek paraphernalia. Refreshments will be served. More Information: For more information about this event, click here.

February 6

Join Santa Monica Public Library on Saturday, February 6, at 1pm for a live presentation with Ina, The Sunshine Storyteller. Celebrate #BlackHistoryMonth with traditional folktales and songs! Program only available live at the following link:

The 29th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair – Virtual

The virtual edition of the Annual African American Children’s Book Fair is happening on Saturday, February 6th. Join a number of authors and illustrators for this special event. Check the website for more details as they become available.

What: Music of the West African Kora Where: Fairview Library Branch When: Thursday, February 6 at 7 p.m. Description: Sean Gaskell performs traditional songs on the 21-stringed West African kora, an instrument native to the Mande peoples of Gambia, Senegal, Mali, and Guinea. Seating is limited; free tickets released 30 minutes prior to the performance. More Information:

February 6 – 7

2021 Los Angeles Black History Month Festival Leimert Park Village Plaza 3411 W. 43rd Pl., Los Angeles, CA 90008

The 2021 Los Angeles Black History Month Festival was scheduled for Saturday, February 6th and Sunday, February 7th from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm each day. This free community event features two city blocks of festivities including art exhibits, artisans marketplace, live music, and much more. Check the website for further details; the event may be canceled this year for health and safety reasons.

February 7 – 8

Online: Historical Insights into the Black Experience in Santa Ana and Greater Orange County

The Bowers Museum is hosting a special two-day online event, Historical Insights into the Black Experience in Santa Ana and Greater Orange County, on Sunday, February 7th and Monday, February 8th. This presentation will “shine light on the experience of Black Americans in Orange County from the formation of the county and 1889 to the turbulent 1960s to current day.” Tickets are available online ($10).

February 10

A Taste of Africa – L.A.P.L. Online Event

The Alma Reeves Woods – Watts Branch Library invites families to a special online event, “A Taste of Africa,” on Wednesday, February 10th at 3:00 pm. “In celebration of African American Heritage Month, we will read Thank You, Omu. Learn where you can enjoy Nigerian cooking in Los Angeles and explore your family’s traditions through the art of collage.” Email for the Zoom link.

February 10 & 13

The performance is Heartbeat Opera's Breathing Free. Heartbeat collaborated with 100 incarcerated singers in six prison choirs to create a contemporary American Fidelio told through the lens of Black Lives Matter and is being presented for the public on February 10 & 13, 2021. If you click on the link, you can learn more about it. Each program will feature a panel discussion; one with artists who work with incarcerated populations and another focused on restorative justice, the challenges facing those returning to the community and importance of education.

February 11

Kids Writers LIVE! Kwame Alexander – Online

On Thursday, February 11th at 3:00 pm, “award-winning children’s and young adult author Kwame Alexander will discuss his books during a moderated Z&A conversation.” Check the website for details on registering and learning how to share your questions before the event.

February 13

Responsibility and Action in the Pursuit of Racial Justice

There is a panel discussion taking place on Saturday, February 13, 2021 (online screening at 7:30, panel to follow approximately from 8:15 PM - 8:45 PM). This performance is a part of The Broad Stage's curatorial path toward Responsibility and Action in the Pursuit of Racial Justice

February 16

What: RE/CITE: Community Talk & Tea with April Banks Where: 18th Street Arts Center (1639 18th Street, Santa Monica) When: Sunday, February 16 from 2 - 4 p.m. Description: Tea Afar is a nomadic storytelling experience that exchanges traditions across borders. Over tea, we share stories, build empathy and strengthen the community. For this edition, we'll focus on the history of the Belmar neighborhood and how African Americans migrated and built their lives in Santa Monica. The face of this community has changed dramatically over time. We will celebrate, reminisce and imagine the future... with our bellies full! This tea is one of several community events hosted by April Banks as part of the Belmar History + Art project. Banks and historian Dr. Alison Rose Jefferson are utilizing public engagement activities and historical research to daylight historical injustices and celebrate the rich legacy of African American contributions to Santa Monica life. For more information about this event, click here.

February 18

Afro-Joy Dance Party with Tatiana Zamir – Online

Families are invited to get moving with a Afro-Joy Dance Party with Tatiana Zamir on Thursday, February 18th from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. This special event is designed for “all bodies and levels of experience to embody joy, healing and connect with the community.” Tickets are free, but reservations are required. Once you RSVP, you’ll receive the link to the event.

What: Montana Avenue Branch Book Group - Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson Where: Montana Library Branch When: Wednesday, February 19 at 7 p.m. More Information:

February 19

What: Documentary Screening & Discussion: Always in Season (2019) Where: Pico Branch Library When: Wednesday, February 19 at 6:30 p.m. Description: In this moving documentary, descendants of the victims and perpetrators of lynching work together to heal a violent history. Blending observational footage with first-person testimonies and expert input, Always in Season examines the lingering impact of lynching and the link between this historic form of racial terrorism and the racial violence that exists today. A discussion of the film follows the screening. (Film runtime: 89 min.) More Information:

Feburary 22

Teen Book Bites: Black Lives Matter – Online Event

The Los Angeles Public Library System is hosting an online event, Teen Book Bites: Black Lives Matter, on Monday, February 22nd at 3:00 pm. Librarians will be discussing “books for teens about the Black Lives Matter movement, and find some recommendations for your next great read.” The event will be streamed live on LAPL’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

Feburary 23

An Afternoon with Natashia Deón

Natashia Deón is the author of the critically-acclaimed novel Grace (Counterpoint Press) —awarded the 2017 First Novel Prize by the American Library Association’s Black Caucus (BCALA), and named a Kirkus Review Best Book of 2016 and a New York Times Top Book 2016. She is a practicing attorney, law professor, and UCLA creative writing professor, and an advocate of abolition of the prison industrial complex. She also launched Redeem, a nonprofit hub of services and relief for those who have been convicted or incarcerated. Deón is the recipient of a PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship and a number of fellowships and residencies. Her writing has appeared in American Short Fiction, Buzzfeed, LA Review of Books, The Rumpus, The Feminist Wire, Asian American Lit Review, Rattling Wall, and other places. Sponsored by the SMC Associates and SMC English Department.

Tue, February 23 | 11:15 a.m. | Free | Zoom Link:

Justice for Minors in California

Join us for an online talk by social reform advocate Jerome Dixon on protecting the rights of minors taken into custody for an alleged crime, and the California law that makes sure they talk with an attorney before waiving their Miranda rights. As a high school junior, Dixon was arrested as a suspect in a murder, interrogated for 25 hours without parental notification, coerced into signing an incriminating statement used against him, and sent to a California prison. In 2011 — 21 years later — the California Prison Parole Board had difficulty comprehending his incarceration, acknowledged his innocence, and released him from custody. Sponsored by the SMC Associates.

Tue, February 23 | 7:30 p.m. | Free | Zoom password: 081300

February 25

What: Celebrating Black Excellence Community Mixer Where: Third Street Promenade between Santa Monica Boulevard and Arizona Avenue When: Tuesday, February 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Description: A community mixer to celebrating Black professionals in Santa Monica. Refreshments will be served. More details coming soon.

Nominations The City of Santa Monica's Black History Month Committee is accepting nominations for professionals who will be honored at the mixer. Nominees must live or work in Santa Monica. Nominations must include a few sentences about how the nominee demonstrates outstanding leadership or service. The deadline for submissions is February 15. Click here to submit nominations.

February 26

What: Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era Where: Montana Library Branch When: Wednesday, February 26 at 6:30 p.m. Description: Historian and heritage conservation consultant Alison Rose Jefferson, M.H.C., Ph.D., presents and discusses her new book. It focuses on the struggle for leisure and public space for all within the long freedom rights struggle, with emphasis on the Santa Monica area. Co-sponsored by the Santa Monica Conservancy. More Information:

February 27

Virtual African-American Festival

The Aquarium of the Pacific will broadcast its Virtual African American Festival, live, on Saturday, February 27th from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. This free event “will feature African and African-American music, dance, storytelling, and historical displays.” Information on how to view the Festival will be available on the Aquarium’s website.

February 28 – March 14

29th Annual Pan African Film + Arts Festival

The 29th Annual Pan African Film + Arts Festival is happening February 28th through March 14th. The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) was established in 1992 and is “dedicated to racial tolerance through the exhibition of film, art and creative expression.” The Festival, which is “the largest Black Film Festival in America” highlights both new and old films, as well as fine art and crafts. A variety of events are planned, and ticket information is available online. Check the website for more information as it becomes available.

February 29

What: Black History Greens Festival Where: Virginia Avenue Park When: Saturday, February 29, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Description: Join Virginia Avenue Park, the Parent Connection Group, and the Library in a celebration of Black History Month with the annual Greens Festival. This year's festival theme is Honoring Black Royalty and features chef cooking demonstrations, a community Greens cooking contest, a Black History exhibit, arts and crafts, a scavenger hunt, musical performances, book readings and more!

What: RE/CITE: Natalie Patterson Poetry Reading Where: Virginia Avenue Park (2201 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica) When: Saturday, February 29, 12:45 to 1 p.m. Description: Poet and Educator Natalie Patterson reads a poem created to honor the patterns of migration, displacement, and settlement that led us to this place. This reading is one of several community events hosted by April Banks as part of the Belmar History + Art project. Banks and historian Dr. Alison Rose Jefferson are utilizing public engagement activities and historical research to daylight historical injustices and celebrate the rich legacy of African American contributions to Santa Monica life.

What: RE/SITE: Dancing in Place, a workshop with d. Sabela grimes (during Greens Festival) Where: Virginia Avenue Park (2201 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica) When: Saturday, February 29, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Description: Dancer and choreographer d. Sabela grimes leads us through collective movement that explores shared space and our physical presence. What does the “body as archive” mean? How can you embody community in your body? We’ll investigate and move through these ideas, but more importantly, we’ll have fun dancing to the beat of live drummers! Everyone is welcome. Generations that dance together, stay together, or something like that. Let’s move! This workshop is one of several community events hosted by April Banks as part of the Belmar History + Art project. Banks and historian Dr. Alison Rose Jefferson are utilizing public engagement activities and historical research to daylight historical injustices and celebrate the rich legacy of African American contributions to Santa Monica life. For more information about this event, click here.

ONGOING LIST OF SUGGESTIONS (complied from By: AuthorWendy Kennar Categories Things To Do in Los Angeles with Kids)

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Virtual While we can’t go to the theater to enjoy a live performance, check out the website for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. You’ll find videos you can access of the “Company performing on stage.” And while you’re on the website, the Dance Company asks you to consider making a donation to help support “Alvin Ailey’s mission to deliver dance back to the people.”

  • California African American Museum (CAAM) Exposition Park 600 State Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90037 The California African American Museum is located within Exposition Park. The collection here consists of over 4,000 items dating back to the 1800’s all the way up to the present. The Museum’s collection includes paintings, historical documents, sculptures, films, artifacts, and photos. “CAAM aims to represent the diverse contributions of African Americans in the United States, but also to interpret how the past has affected identity in the present.” The Museum hosts a number of special events and programs throughout the year, including many family-friendly programs. While the museum currently remains closed, be sure to check the website for information about the museum’s exhibitions as well as special events (as they become available).

  • The Museum of African American Art Macy’s 3rd Floor – Baldwin Hills Crenshaw 4005 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008 Many Los Angeles residents may not even realize the Museum of African American Art exists. And while the museum is currently closed, make a note to visit as soon as it re-opens. Its mission is to educate “visitors of all ages about the arts through the lens of African American culture.” Families can access some information about the Museum’s exhibitions online. Admission is free. The Museum is usually open Thursday through Sunday, from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm each day.

  • All Dolled Up: A 40 Year Celebration of the WGSAC Annual Black Doll Show– Online The William Grant Still Arts Center invites families to view the 40th Anniversary Black Doll Show, All Dolled Up. The annual Doll Show serves as a “celebration of the monumental and small, ordinary and extraordinary events that depict Black life in all its facets.” This special event honors “the diversity and uniqueness of the Black community, through an exhibition of historic, artistic, and commercial black dolls.” The exhibition is available to view online.

  • Betye Saar: Call and Response Online “Betye Saar (b. 1926, Los Angeles) is one of the most talented artists of her generation.” However, “she is not as well known as her talents deserve, however, no doubt largely because she is a black woman who came of age in the 1960s outside of New York City.” Last year, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art hosted a special exhibition covering Saar’s career and was the “first exhibition at a California museum to address her entire career and the first anywhere to focus on her sketchbooks.” You can access information about this artist and the exhibition on LACMA’s website.

  • Black History Month – LA County Library System The Los Angeles County Public Library system celebrates Black History Month all throughout February. Check the website for more information (as it becomes available) regarding related activities and events.

  • African American Firefighter Museum 1401 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA The African American Firefighter Museum (AAFFM) opened in 1997. It is recognized as the “only free standing African American Firefighter Museum in the United States.” Families will view vintage fire apparatus, photos, artifacts, and much more. The AAFFM is located in historic Fire Station #30 which was once a segregated firehouse. The Museum is generally open Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Be sure to make a note to visit once museums have re-opened in Los Angeles.

  • Ford Digital Festivals: Movement/Matters Families can view the Ford Digital Festival: Movement/Matters online. This special festival (available in six installments) is a “celebration of how L.A. dancers have found connection, care, power, and potential on the dance floor and in the streets.”

  • National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) While it’s not possible to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture right now, luckily you can visit the Museum’s website. The Museum has a large number of digital resources available including information and tools on talking about race, online exhibitions, video archives, and much more.

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