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by Delana Gbenekama
Black History Month (February) is a time to celebrate and learn about the history and accomplishments of the Black community since this aspect of American history has not been as widely taught and discussed in the mainstream as it should be. Equally important is bringing awareness to issues that affect the Black community by engaging in dialogue, sparking thought through avenues such as art, and inspiring action to make positive changes. The theme for Black History Month 2022 is Black Health and Wellness. Issues pertaining to this theme range from the high maternal mortality rate among Black mothers to the generational wealth gap to barriers to mental health to housing.
Because Black History Month is also a time to celebrate, the City’s Black History Month Committee is prioritizing elements of joy and healing in our programming for all to enjoy, especially our Black participants who regularly experience an onslaught of racism. This is reflected by providing students an outlet for artistic expression by submitting Black history-themed artwork with a deadline of January 25 (click here for details). This year’s programming will also include a therapeutic paint and sip class, stress-relieving somatic soul integration workshops, a TikTok dance class, and more. We’re once again honoring Black community members who live and work in Santa Monica for their outstanding leadership and service. You can submit nominations here by February 2.
A comprehensive list of Black History Month 2022 events and activities is listed at the end of this article. We encourage you to RSVP and join us to celebrate and learn. Most of our events will be held virtually to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. We ask that you wear a mask and maintain physical distancing for any in-person event you attend.
In addition to participating in our Black History Month event programming, we encourage you to browse our Black-owned businesses page to discover local entrepreneurs to support and visit the City’s equity page featuring information about the Black Agenda for Santa Monica and the newly formed Santa Monica Black Lives Association, a nonprofit organization formed by Black community leaders.
On the topic of housing, studies show that housing has a direct effect on health. A lack of affordable housing disproportionately places a strain on low-income families, forcing them to choose between food, heating and other basic needs, according to an article published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Santa Monica City Council, in a step to right some wrongs that were perpetrated against Communities of Color in Santa Monica, approved the Right to Return pilot program last summer. While this program can never compare to building generational wealth through homeownership, it is a step in the right direction and in the context of the affordable housing crisis. Click here to learn more.
City of Santa Monica Black History Month Events and Activities
Tuesday, January 25, no earlier than 6:30 p.m.: City Council Proclamation and Presentation (Virtual): Staff will present to the Santa Monica City Council a line-up of events for Black History Month and accept a proclamation honoring Black History Month. Click here to watch the meeting on the City’s YouTube page.
Tuesday, February 1 at 12 p.m.: Black History-Themed Bingo with Comedienne Kristal Adams (Virtual): Laugh your way through an hour-long Black History Month-themed bingo emceed by Comedienne Kristal Adams. Learn about Black history while trying your luck at winning coveted prizes. Click here to RSVP.
Tuesday, February 1 – Wednesday, February 16: Black History Month Exhibits at Santa Monica City Hall: The City is partnering with the Quinn Research Center to display exhibits at Santa Monica City Hall featuring Black historical figures in Santa Monica who worked in health and wellness. Additionally, the City is working the Library, City staff, local schools and the Building Bridges Art Exchange to collect student art to display. The public is welcome to browse the exhibits during the City’s regular business hours.
Thursday, February 3 at 10:30 a.m.: Black Health and Wellness (Virtual): Join us for the Black History Month opening ceremony featuring local health professionals, including Phillip Brown, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor at UCLA Family Medicine, and Nakeya T. Fields, mental health entrepreneur, author, and speaker, who will discuss the importance of mental and physical health. The event will also feature tap performances by the Syncopated Ladies, the singing of the Black National Anthem by Castella, a hula hoop competition, and a healthy cooking demonstration. Click here to RSVP.
Wednesday, February 9 at 12 p.m.: Somatic Soul Integration (Virtual): Experience an embodiment practice that explores the living moving parts of our body through the art of breath work, mindful movement, and dance. Somatic Soul Integration supports the collective on the journey to self-actualization by healing mind, body, spirit and soul. Using a playful body-oriented focus, you will learn about the habits we hold around safety and connection and how they shape our present moment experiences. This 90-minute stress-relieving workshop is designed to make you feel safe in your body and connected to the source of wellness. The workshop will be led by Misty Powell, a psychologist, Wholistic Reiki Healer and certified yoga instructor. Click here to RSVP.
Saturday, February 12 at 10 a.m.: Somatic Soul Integration (Virtual): Experience an embodiment practice that explores the living moving parts of our body through the art of breath work, mindful movement, and dance. Somatic Soul Integration supports the collective on the journey to self-actualization by healing mind, body, spirit and soul. Using a playful body-oriented focus, you will learn about the habits we hold around safety and connection and how they shape our present moment experiences. This 90-minute stress-relieving workshop is designed to make you feel safe in your body and connected to the source of wellness. The workshop will be led by Misty Powell, a psychologist, Wholistic Reiki Healer and certified yoga instructor. Click here to RSVP.
Tuesday, February 15 at 12 p.m.: TikTok Dance Class with Choreographer and Dancer Jamal Josef (Virtual): Join us for a class on the latest and most popular TikTok dance moves with celebrity choreographer and dancer Jamal Josef. Click here to RSVP.
Thursday, February 17 from 12-2 p.m.: Paint and Sip : Join us for a therapeutic Black History-themed painting session while sipping on a non-alcoholic beverage at Virginia Avenue Park. The class will be led by artist Nicole K. Click here to RSVP.
Thursday, February 17 - Wednesday, February 23: Black History Month Exhibits at Bergamot: The City, Building Bridges Art Exchange and the Quinn Research Center are partnering to display exhibits at the Building Bridges Art Exchange at the Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., Unit F2. Additionally, the other galleries at Bergamot will feature online or on-site exhibits throughout the month. The City is also working the Library, City staff, local schools and the Building Bridges Art Exchange to collect student art to display.
Saturday, February 19 at 2 p.m.: Reception and Black History-Themed Art Walk at Bergamot: The City and Building Bridges Art Exchange are partnering to host a reception at the Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., Unit F2, to highlight the exhibits. The reception will include refreshments followed by a self-guided tour of galleries displaying Black History-themed exhibits. Click here to RSVP.
Thursday, February 24 at 6:30 p.m.: Celebrating Black Excellence Community Awards (Virtual): The City will hold a virtual awards ceremony honoring Black professionals in Santa Monica for outstanding leadership and service. The event will also showcase South African dance performances featuring celebrity choreographers and dancers Lindiwe Rose and Jamal Josef. Click here to RSVP.
The City’s Black History Month Committee is accepting nominations for professionals who will be honored. Nominees must live or work in Santa Monica. The deadline for submissions is February 2, 2022. Click here to submit nominations.
Saturday, February 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Black History Greens Festival: Join Virginia Avenue Park, the Parent Connection Group, and the Library in a celebration of Black History Month with the annual Greens Festival at Virginia Avenue Park. This year’s theme is Celebrating Black California History. Additional details will be posted to this page as the event draws near.
Sunday, February 27 at 2 p.m.: Paint and Sip: Join us for a therapeutic Black History-themed painting session while sipping on a non-alcoholic beverage at Virginia Avenue Park. The class will be led by educator La Shaunn Spivey-Angeletti. Please note that space is limited. Click here to RSVP