February is Black History Month!
If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month with your family in L.A., we’ve rounded up the best festivals, exhibits, crafts and more to celebrate, honor and learn about the contributions and achievements of Black Americans.
10:00am – 5:00pm Thu, Feb 1 – Mar 10 | Petersen Automotive MuseumMore info
The Petersen Automotive Museum has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution to present its newest exhibition, “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” which offers an immersive look at how the guide served as “the bible of Black travel during Jim Crow” and the reality of travel for African Americans in mid-century America.
Started in 1936 by Harlem postman Victor Green, “The Negro Motorist Green Book” was a guide published over three decades that helped African Americans travel the country safely and with dignity during a time of Jim Crow laws and segregation. The exhibition showcases a collection of artifacts, photographs and personal accounts that shed light on the impact of the guide, as well as the challenges African American travelers faced during the mid-century. This display also highlights the growth and development of African American businesses and the significant role played by “The Negro Motorist Green Book” in American history. “The Negro Motorist Green Book” is a traveling exhibition developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with award-winning author, photographer and cultural documentarian Candacy Taylor.
10:00am – 8:00pm Thu, Feb 1 – 29 | Santa Monica Public LibraryMore info
Kids and teens are invited to help complete portions of artwork celebrating Black History Month on Santa Monica’s Main Library Youth area display wall. For youth ages 17 and under.
All day Tue, Feb 6 – 19 | Baldwin Hills Crenshaw PlazaMore info
This year PAFF will feature over 200 films and over 100 established and emerging artists showcasing the African diaspora.
The 2024 program includes world premieres, art exhibition, panel discussions, Q&A sessions, Studentfest for students and their teachers, Children’s Festival for ages 4-12, LOL! Comedy Show and more.
10:30am – 11:00am Tue, Feb 13 | Glendale Central LibraryMore info
Be The Change presents Black History Month Storytime. Celebrate love of family, love of self and love of culture with engaging picture books.
The Be the Change Series is the Library’s promise to build collective understanding of systemic racism, elevate the voices and stories of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), and inspire our community to be the change through lectures, exhibits, and programming.
3:00pm – 4:00pm Wed, Feb 14 | Jefferson – Vassie D. Wright Memorial Branch LibraryMore info
Jefferson Library is named after Vassie D. Wright, but do you know who she was? Join Jefferson – Vassie D. Wright Memorial Branch Library and learn about her legacy while making a simple Valentine’s Day craft.
3:30pm – 4:30pm Thu, Feb 15 | Ascot Branch LibraryMore info
Join Ascot Branch Library for fun read aloud stories about Black ballet dancers such as Janet Collins, Raven Wilkinson, Alicia Alonso, and Arthur Mitchell.
10:00am – 4:00pm Sat, Feb 17 | Robinson ParkMore info
Pasadena commemorates Black History Month with the 42nd Annual Black History Parade and Festival 2024, titled “Past – Present – Future: Celebrating the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson.”
One of Southern California’s largest and longest-running Black history parades begins at 10 a.m. at Fair Oaks Ave. and Mountain View St. and ends at Robinson Park, 1081 N. Fair Oaks Avenue. The festival begins at 12 p.m. and features live bands, dance performances, community booths, guest speakers, food for purchase, and tons of fun.
11:00am – 6:00pm Sun, Feb 18 | Pan Pacific ParkMore info
Open Arms Food Pantry and Resource Center presents the 8th Annual LA Black History Month Festival with headliner RoJames.
The free event will feature an African Marketplace, concession vendors, performing artists and discussion on topics including health, mental health and issues related to the African American community.
3:00pm – 3:00pm Tue, Feb 20 | Alma Reaves Woods – Watts Branch LibraryMore info
Listen to iconic music from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and be inspired to create an original piece of art.
4:00pm – 5:00pm Thu, Feb 22 | Compton LibraryMore info
Create a piece of stained glass artwork inspired by the technique and artistic style of portrait painter Kehinde Wiley. Among Wiley’s famous pieces includes former President Barack Obama’s portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.
6:00pm – 8:00pm Fri, Feb 23 | Charter Oak ParkMore info
The L.A. County Dept of Parks and Recreation celebrates Black History Month all throughout February through arts and crafts, live performances, and food tastings (first come, first served).
9:00am – 5:00pm Sat, Feb 24 – 25 | Aquarium of the PacificMore info
The Aquarium of the Pacific hosts its 22nd annual African American Festival. The event features music, dance, storytelling, historical displays and the Aquarium’s Heritage Award ceremony.
1:00pm – 5:00pm Sat, Feb 24 | SouthBay PavilionMore info
Join the SouthBay Pavilion to celebrate Black History Month with live music by Seville, prizes, vendors, trivia, raffles and more.
Join LA County Parks and Recreation Feb. 8-24 as they celebrate Black History Month with free programming at various parks throughout the city Thursdays through Sundays. Family-fun events and cultural experiences include movie nights, cooking classes, arts and crafts, live music and more. Visit www.parks.lacounty.gov/bhm for details. FREE.
February is Black History Month. Although a month is never enough to celebrate the vast contributions and achievements of Black Americans, it is a time when museums, libraries and other cultural institutions host numerous events in honor of Black History Month. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite celebrations and events in and around Los Angeles.
Celebrate Black History Month at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures with their groundbreaking exhibition, “Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898-1971.” The museum will also host a three-day Regeneration Summit Feb. 3-5 featuring live music, workshops, screenings, food vendors and more. Read about our Editor-in-Chief’s visit to the exhibition here. $15-$25. Free on Feb. 4 for SoCal Museums Annual Free for All day. academymuseum.org
The 43rd Annual Orange County Black History Parade & Unity Festival returns to Anaheim on Feb. 4 with food, entertainment, vendors, celebrities, college fair, art contest and more. The parade route starts at Anaheim and Lincoln Ave, marches to Water St. and returns to Anaheim City Hall. oc-hc.org
Learn about Underground Railroad quilt codes with the Santa Catalina Branch Library on Feb. 18. Artist Alyson Toone leads this Art Quilt Block Portraits workshop where participants will make their own textile collage. For ages 13 and up. FREE. pasadena.evanced.info
Join the Pasadena Public Library at La Pintoresca Branch on Feb. 21 for a presentation of African Talking Drums. Renowned percussionist and teaching artist Chazz Ross leads this all-ages workshop. cityofpasadena.net
Southern California Children’s Museum is collaborating with KidLit in Color all month long to highlight some of their favorite Black authors through Instagram takeovers, story times and arts and crafts. $10. socalkids.org
Aquarium of the Pacific hosts their 21st annual African-American Festival Feb. 25-26. The weekend features live music, dance, storytelling and more. Included with admission. aquariumofpacific.org
California African American Museum hosts their Black History Month Prosperity Market on Feb. 25. The pop-up event celebrates Black farmers, chefs and entrepreneurs and features food, artisan goods, live DJ, kids corner and wellness offerings like yoga and a sound bath. FREE. caamuseum.org
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is spotlighting Jordu Schell, a sculptor and concept artist who has been working in the film and television industries for over 30 years, and who is one of only a few African American creature artists in his field. He has found inspiration from the museum’s entomology and live animals collections to create some of film’s most iconic creatures. He was instrumental in the creation of the Na’vi and other creatures in James Cameron’s blockbuster film “Avatar,” shaping the designs of the characters using physical sculptures. Over the years, Schell has conceptualized creatures and characters for major projects including “Hellboy,” “Men In Black,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Predator,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and more. NHM.ORG/LAatplay
Join Parenting for Liberation on Feb. 18 at the Black-owned Blackbird flagship space in Culver City as the organization celebrates its inaugural Black Parent Innovation cohort. Fellows accepted into the program were awarded $5,000 each to ideate, experiment and hone new strategies to help their communities thrive. Learn about their projects, engage in panel discussions celebrating Black ingenuity and celebrate Black innovation. parentingforliberation.org/innovation/
Santa Monica Black Lives Association and DTSM, Inc. will host a day of music, conversation and celebration at the Celebration & Solidarity: Black History Month Festival along the Third Street Promenade from 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, March 11 (this event was rescheduled due to weather).
The free festival features live musical performances by rapper Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, among many others. Attendees can enjoy delicious meals from Black-owned local restaurants and shop a variety of African American-made products from local vendors. Exhibits highlighting the contributions of African Americans in science and technology will be on display, and a celebrity panel discussion featuring former Los Angeles Laker Norm Nixon and others will explore the impact of African Americans in the entertainment industry.
To conclude Black History Month, Oak Park Brewing Co. and Peoples Beer are collaborating with The Ray Charles Foundation to release a limited edition free-of-alcohol brew celebrating the musical icon Ray Charles, that will be available during a limited-time pop-up at Fixins Soul Kitchen in DTLA.
Fixins Soul Kitchen, the full-service soul food restaurant that celebrates African American culture and traditions owned by NBA legend and 55th mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson, is inviting all to come together to celebrate the legendary Ray Charles from Feb, 23-March 31 at the pop-up, which will include Ray Charles art and a playlist curated by The Ray Charles Foundation.
A presentation and tasting of the Ray Charles Brew will take place 12 p.m. Feb. 23.
I grew up in a world of gospel artists steeped in the Southern tradition. My mother is a gospel guitarist who met my father, who was a drummer, at a gospel revival in our small Louisiana town. While my mother’s nimble fingers commanded her electric guitar and astounded the audience, her brothers electrified the air with their original quartet songs. My sisters, cousins and I rounded it all out by beating our tambourines as loud as we could.
Last weekend, Disneyland Resort’s Celebrate Gospel event transported me back to the drum-beating, organ-playing, tambourine-shaking, soulful singing of my youth. While my teen son and his friend stood in long lines for rides in the parks, I stayed on my feet inside Fantasyland Theater while enjoying the sounds of artists such as Spirit and Truth Ensemble of Riverside, KJLH Radio Free Voices (founded by Stevie Wonder) of Inglewood and Friendship Baptist Church Choir of Yorba Linda. These and other groups carried us on the waves of foot-stomping gospel classics and contemporary numbers. Kierra Sheard, a Stellar Award-winning singer, songwriter, fashion designer, actor and author, closed out the night.
This year, Disneyland expanded its one-day event featuring local Black gospel artists during Black History Month by introducing a larger — and longer — activation: Celebrate Soulfully, which invites guests to celebrate with experiences that pay tribute to Black heritage and culture through music, food, art and more. Celebrate Soulfully, which began during Black History Month, is one of the ways Disney Parks is reimagining tomorrow, its campaign to “amplify underrepresented voices and untold stories as well as champion the importance of accurate representation in media and entertainment.”
Princeton Parker, associate manager of content programming and synergy at Disneyland, has worked for the resort for six years and was a key player in expanding this year’s programming. When I chatted with him in between concerts, he was still brimming with excitement. “What I love about Celebrate Soulfully is that it is an invitation for all people to celebrate Black culture, Black heritage through incredible offerings of food, music and even events that happen here in the parks, and so you can think of Celebrate Soulfully really as this big cultural party that we’re allowing people to step into all month long,” he said.
While Celebrate Gospel has taken place for the last 10 years, “we’re always asking what else can we do to tell a larger story, because that’s who we are as a company, as a storytelling organization,” Parker said.
The Celebrate Soulfully story threads throughout Downtown Disney and the parks. Thirteen wall panels in front of Fantasyland Theater tell the history behind gospel music. At Downtown Disney, more wall panels highlight the stories of Black artists, including artists employed by Disney. Other elements include:
- A live chalk-art installation comes to life each week as Disney cast member and chalk muralist Marcella Swett reveals a new artistic creation near the Downtown Disney LIVE! stage. Swett, a senior production artisan with Disney Live Entertainment, is an award-winning visual artist and native Southern Californian.
- Art inspired by Disney and Pixar’s “Soul,” created by emerging Black artists Bee Harris, Bianca Pastel, Arrington Porter and Cory Van Lew, are on display near the Downtown Disney LIVE! stage.
- The new Post 21 cart brings a collection of modern merchandise from Black-owned businesses, curated by a Los Angeles-based mother and daughter duo. On Feb. 27, Post 21 will host a book signing with twins Channing and Chelsea Moreland, authors of “B is for Black Girl.”
- WonderGround Gallery is featuring artwork and collectibles inspired by the films “Soul,” “Princess and the Frog,” “The Lion King” and more. Artists Joey Chou and Fenway Fan will sign their newest “Soul” artwork from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 26.
- Pelé Soccer is debuting a new sweatshirt design featuring an iconic image of Pelé and a call to “empower the culture.”
- Lovepop honors Black History Month with special “We are Black History” and “Black is Beautiful” cards.
In addition to gospel, musical performances include jazz, reggae, Do-Wop, R&B and more. “There’s literally every genre of Black music you can imagine,” Parker said.
While filling your soul with music and art, you can fill your belly with soul food and Cajun cuisine as well as with wines, beer and spirits from Black-owned businesses at Hearthstone Lounge through February. Sip wines by the glass from the McBride Sisters Collection or the Brown Estate Napa Valley, enjoy craft beer from Crowns & Hops Brewing Co. or a cocktail made with Uncle Nearest 1884 Tennessee whiskey.
“I’m excited most of all for this event as a cast member because to me it’s an opportunity for me to see all the sides of myself and my identity come together in a way that is culturally authentic to who I am and to my experience, but also still celebrates the heritage of the Walt Disney company,” Parker said.
As a Black American who is also a storyteller, parent, music and food lover, I, too, felt seen. I’ve never had as much fun at Disney as I did during Celebrate Soulfully. At the end of the night, I reconnected with my son and his friend. They were beat from all the walking, standing and rides, I was still high from Sheard’s closing number.
While other activations to celebrate Black culture and history will occur throughout the year, park officials say, there’s one more weekend of Celebrate Soulfully. Scheduled performers for Feb. 26 include:
- Jonathan McReynolds, a contemporary Christian artist from Chicago, whose album “Make Room” debuted No. 1 on Billboard Gospel. McReynolds and Mali Music won a Grammy Award in 2021 for their song “Movin’ On.”
- Mali Music, a contemporary Gospel artist whose musical style layers uplifting lyrics over a versatile mix of gospel, R&B and hip-hop. His first mainstream album, “Mali Is…,” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart.
- The Singers of Soul, an acclaimed gospel choir. Los Angeles-based artists from this group will perform with inspiration from their common goal: to spread love, hope and joy through the power of music.
- Community groups include Amazing Grace Conservatory, Rhythm and Moves Children’s Youth Community Choir, Greater LA Cathedral Choir and LA Inner City Mass Choir.
Entertainment schedules and details are available on Disneyland.com.
February brings us Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, both occasions that teach us to love one another, and embrace cultural and racial differences. Our picks for February include a beloved canine family, a teen girl overcoming her insecurities, and selections from Disney+ and Hulu’s Celebrate Black Stories collection.
Rise Up, Sing Out
“Rise Up, Sing Out” is an animated series of music shorts that empowers children and their families to celebrate their differences in race and culture. Executive produced by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of The Roots, both musicians are also characters in the series. Episodes include celebrating Black hair, responding to hurtful comments, and embracing the meaning behind names. Available on Disney+, and also airing on Disney Junior and Disney Channel.
Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised)
In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents “Summer of Soul,” a documentary about The Harlem Cultural Festival filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park) in the summer of 1969. Until now, footage has never been seen from the festival. Within the documentary, never-before-seen footage from the festival includes performances from Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Gladys Knights and the Pips and more artists. Winner of the Best Documentary Critics Choice Award, “Summer of Soul” highlights Black history, culture, and unity. Available on Disney+ and Hulu. Rated PG-13.
Pretzel and the Puppies
Based on the classic book “Pretzel” by award-winning authors Margret and H.A. Rey, “Pretzel and the Puppies” is an original animated series about a modern dog family. The eight episodes follow stay-at-home dad Pretzel (Mark Duplass), his five puppies, and mom Greta, the mayor of their hometown, Muttgomery. In each episode, the family aims to make the world a better place for their friends and neighbors. Pretzel and Greta encourage their pups to try to solve their own problems, often reminding them to “Get those PAWS UP!” when they face a challenge. All episodes of “Pretzel and the Puppies” are available on Apple TV+.
Tall Girl 2
The sequel to Netflix’s successful teen romantic comedy, “Tall Girl 2” follows the protagonist, Jodi (Ava Michelle) and her life after her inspiring speech at the homecoming dance. With her newfound popularity, confidence, and a boyfriend, Jodi’s life has turned around for the better. However, Jodi’s new popularity comes with more pressures and insecurities, as new relationships form and old ones get tested. When Jodi begins to feel overwhelmed, she must remember what is truly important and stand up for herself and others. “Tall Girl 2” is available to watch on Netflix.
The Wonder Years
Based on the coming-of-age sitcom from the 1980s, “The Wonder Years” is back with an all new cast. From the perspective of 12-year-old Dean (Elisha Williams), “The Wonder Years” follows the story of the Williams family during the late 1960s. With the wisdom of his adult years, Dean’s hopeful and humorous recollections of his past showcase the ups and downs of growing up in a Black middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama, and the friendship, laughter and lessons along the way. Episodes 1-12 are available on Disney+, Hulu, and ABC.
The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse
Disney Television Animation and Emmy Award winning artist and director Paul Rudish present “The Wonderful Winter of Mickey Mouse.” The second season to the successful “The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse” consists of four specials that are themed to each season: winter, spring, summer and autumn. With adventure and comedy, “The Wonderful Winter of Mickey Mouse” is great for all ages. Premieres Feb. 18 on Disney+.
The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder
A continuation of the acclaimed animated series, “The Proud Family”, “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” follows the adventures and misadventures of newly 14-year-old Penny Proud and her family. With a new career for mom Trudy, wilder dreams for dad Oscar and new challenges for Penny, the Proud family navigate the 2020s with humor and heart. “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” will be available on Disney+ on Feb. 23.
The month of February brings us Valentine’s Day and Black History Month. Our picks range from a shy bunny who struggles with confidence to trailblazing women of color in politics. The books selected for this month’s book corner teach us the importance of perseverance, appreciation, and a call for unity despite our differences.
Valeria by Margarita del Mazo
Illustrated by Ester Garcia
Spanish award-winning author Margarita del Mazo teams up with illustrator Ester Garcia for their newest children’s book, “Valeria.” Valeria is a shy bunny who loves learning, going to school and being outdoors. However, she underestimates her best qualities and constantly looks down, only recognizing her classmates based on the shoes they wear. One day, Valeria loses her inseparable hat and is forced to look at the world around her. Soon, Valeria celebrates her qualities and appreciates the world around her. “Valeria” is published by Cuento de Luz, a publication company based in Madrid, Spain that specializes in children’s literature. Ages 4-8.
Marley and the Family Band
By Cedella Marley and Tracey Baptiste, illustrated by Tiffany Rose
New York Times best-selling author Cedella Marley releases her newest children’s book, “Marley and the Family Band.” Inspired the author’s own childhood, this story is about a young girl who moves to a new country and learns to make new friends. As the leader of her siblings, Marley uses her problem-solving skills and empathy to bridge the differences in her new community through music. Cedella Marley’s newest children’s book contributes to the legacy of her father, Bob Marley and showcases the power of unity and family.
I’m Growing Great
Written and illustrated by Mechal Renee Roe
The author of “Happy Hair” and “CoolCuts” releases her follow-up book “I’m Growing Great.” Like her previous children’s books, Roe’s newest installment celebrates Black joy. “I’m Growing Great” features girls with elaborate floral hairstyles as they celebrate what makes them unique. With bright art and powerful text, this children’s book promotes confidence and positivity that perfect for girls and women of all ages.
Butterflies In Me
By Denisha Seals, illustrated by Gabhor Utomo
Award winning filmmaker and poet Denisha Seals releases “Butterflies In Me: An Anthology Bringing Awareness to Mental Health.” As a survivor of childhood abuse, Seals’ tells the stories of four children from marginalized communities overcoming mental health issues with the help of a caring adult. Repeated throughout the book is the mantra, “You are special, strong, and you did nothing wrong.” Seals’ newest children’s book highlights resilience and triumph of abuse survivors, and the importance of telling one’s story. As part of Black History Month and beyond, Seals’ work aims to share moments of success and happiness rather than focusing on pain and suffering within the Black community. Ages 5-14.
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre
By Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Winner of multiple awards, including the Coretta Scott King Author award, “Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre” is a picture book that sensitively introduces children to Tulsa Race Massacre. The book provides a powerful look at the history of African Americans in Tulsa’s Greenwood district and highlights the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community. As a largely suppressed act of racial violence in United States history, “Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre” acknowledges this tragedy with a call for a better future. Grades 3-6.
Speak Up, Speak Out! The Extraordinary Life of Fighting Shirley Chisholm
By Tonya Bolden
In collaboration with National Geographic, Coretta Scott King Honor winner Tonya Bolden releases “Speak Up, Speak Out! The Extraordinary Life of Fighting Shirley Chisholm.” The inspiring biography highlights the success and adversities of Shirley Chisholm, the first black women to be elected to the House of Representatives and first from a major political party to run for president. Chisholm dedicated her life to fighting for fair wages, equal rights, and laying the groundwork for women and people of color who later entered politics. “Speak Up, Speak Out! Ages 10-14.
National Geographic Readers: Stacey Abrams and Kamala Harris (L2)
In celebration of Black History Month, National Geographic releases two biographies that highlight women of color currently in politics, Stacey Abrams and Kamala Harris. Both stories explore each of their journeys, achievements and their challenges.
“National Geographic Readers: Stacey Abrams (L2)” by Melissa H. Mwai outlines Stacey Abrams’ career as a city attorney, and as a minority leader in Georgia’s House of Representatives. Abrams was also the first black women to be nominated by a major political party to run for governor in Georgia. Additionally, “National Geographic Readers: Kamala Harris (L2)” by Tony K. Grant discusses Harris’ childhood, early career and her journey that led to her winning the vice presidency. Kamala Harris is the first woman, first Black woman, and first South Asian American to be elected as Vice President of the United States. Both stories are level 2 text, which provides accessible and wide range information for independent readers. Ages 5-8.
For more book suggestions, check out our January Book Corner.
Every February, we honor and celebrate the countless achievements and legacies of Black Americans. The month-long observance serves as an important reminder to reflect on Black history all the time. We’ve rounded up some ways to celebrate Black History Month in L.A. through books, music, art, workshops, lectures and more, this month and beyond.
At the museum
Video artist and choreographer Blondell Cummings turned everyday activities like sweeping the floor or making dinner into works of art. Catch the exhibition, “Blondell Cummings: Dance as Moving Pictures” on display through Feb. 19 at Art + Practice in Leimert Park.
California African American Museum in Exposition Park is featuring a mix of in-person and virtual programs, including three new exhibitions, in celebration of Black History Month. “Troy Montes-Michie: Rock of Eye” exhibition opens Feb. 16, featuring the artist’s collages, drawings and sculptures. Black feminist theorist Tina Campt, Own F. Walker Professor of Humanities and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, will dive deeper into the artist’s work during a virtual conversation with Montes-Michie on Feb. 16.
Take a virtual tour of the Los Angeles Firefighters Museum on Feb. 22 with historian Brent Burton. The first and only free-standing museum dedicated to the African American firefighter experience in the U.S. is also open to in-person visits Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Celebrate Black History Month at The GRAMMY Museum with special exhibits, programs and workshops. Current GRAMMY Award-nominee for Best New Artist, Jimmie Allen, will discuss his career with Emmy Award-winning actor and comedian Wayne Brady on Feb. 10 at the Downtown L.A. museum. “Songs of Conscious, Sounds of Freedom” has been updated to include songs and sounds from the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ rights and an expanded section dedicated to “The Sounds of Los Angeles.” On display though May 8.
The Pasadena Rose Poets celebrate Black History Month and their five-year anniversary with a virtual poetry reading on Feb. 7, reading selections from their work as well as favorite poets past and present.
Join Pasadena Public Library librarians and California African American Museum’s research librarian Denise McIver for a virtual discussion of Nella Larsen’s book “Passing” on Feb. 26.
Browse the Asian Art Museum’s collection of resources, from book and movie recommendations to virtual programs, to help you celebrate Black History Month.
Food, music and entertainment
Enjoy a parent’s night out at The Groundlings as the celebrate Black History Month with sketch comedy Thursday nights at 8p.m. at their Melrose Ave. theatre. Actor and comedian Leonard Robinson directs special editions of “Cookin’ with GAS,” showcasing Black stars from “Call Me Kat,” “Insecure,” “Grand Crew,” and more.
Join the California African American Museum in celebrating Black farmers, chefs and entrepreneurs at the free Prosperity Market pop-up on Feb. 26. Explore farmers market produce, prepared foods, handcrafted goods, cooking demonstrations, a kids corner, live DJ and more.
Disneyland Resort honors Black heritage and culture with “Celebrate Soulfully,” which debuts at Disneyland in Anaheim. Celebrate with food, music, art and more all month long.
For kids and families
The free streaming service for kids ages 2-10, Sensical, celebrates Black storytellers through videos and podcasts. Join Raiyah and her teacher mom in “Kids Black History,” as they inspire kids to learn about Black history. “Kujo’s Kid Zone” by host Randy Quansah takes preschoolers on an adventure to encourage problem-solving, kindness and social awareness.
Amazon’s podcast studio Wondery and award-winning podcast company ABF Creative launched “Adventures of Cairo,” a new original podcast series for kids. The family-friendly show follows 7-year old Cairo as he learns and explores the world around him.
Online learning platform Outschool features interactive classes for kids ages 3-18, including classes that help young learners explore the rich history and inspirational leaders who define Black History Month. Some classes include “Influential Women of Color from History,” “Black History From a Decolonized Perspective” and more.
This February marks the return of Celebrate Soulfully at Disney Parks, honoring Black heritage and culture through music, art and food at Walt Disney World Resort and, for the first time, at Disneyland Resort. This coincides with Black History Month and guests can look for more experiences at Disneyland Resort this year.
As part of Celebrate Soulfully, Disneyland Resort will present “Celebrate Gospel” – a tribute to the rich legacy of Gospel music and a tradition at Disneyland Resort. “Celebrate Gospel” will be held for the first time at Disneyland Park. Award-winning Gospel singer, actor and fashion designer Kierra Sheard will perform on Feb. 19 along with Sacred Groove, and on Feb. 26, Grammy-award winners Jonathan McReynolds and Mali Music take the stage, along with The Singers of Soul. On both weekends, guests also will enjoy performances by Southern California community choirs.
The festive experiences continue at the Downtown Disney District with:
- Live nightly musical performances covering R&B, Gospel, reggae and more
- Saturday afternoon live Gospel music performances
- Chalk murals and art displays from Black artists
- New Orleans-style creole cuisine at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
Additionally, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will offer live jazz nightly and a special menu at Hearthstone Lounge featuring wines, beers and spirits from Black-owned businesses.
By Kimberly A. Morrow
Two years ago, my new principal asked me to spearhead our Black History Month activities. I was elated we would finally celebrate this nationally recognized month.
I respected that in my predominantly white high desert town, where only 8.4 % of the population is Black, our principal, a young white woman who recently relocated to the high desert, was the person recommending we celebrate it.
She understood how important it is for all students to learn Black history. Like me, she was aware of the distorted view of African Americans that many people of other ethnicities hold. This distorted view is a result of the way in which Black people are mentioned in textbooks and currently taught in classrooms. Black people are often only mentioned in the context of slavery, segregation and civil rights. Students have a false belief that all Black people were slaves, poor, uneducated and fighting for their rights.
They have no idea that there were free blacks living in the South before slavery ended. They are not taught that Black people pursued advanced degrees, and owned property and businesses long before slavery ended. To broaden our students’ perspectives, I enthusiastically accepted the task of spearheading our Black History Month Activities.
Since my classes were studying the Industrial Revolution, I created a lesson that aligned with the 10th grade world history and Common Core standards. The first part of my students’ assignment was to research African American inventors and entrepreneurs. Many of my students were astonished to learn the numerous ways in which African Americans have contributed to history. Even today, I still smile as I recall how surprised one of my students was when she learned a Black man named Granville T. Woods invented the roller coaster. She was equally amazed when she read that he was known as “the Black Edison.”
Schoolwide, we had a door-decorating contest designed to teach the student body about Black history through images. Each teacher had their classes decorate their doors according to their subject matter. My students designed several doors all relating to Black history and Black inventors. I was blown away by the level of commitment, interest and creativity our students demonstrated throughout the month of February 2019.
A few tips for parents on teaching Black History:
- Begin with your child’s interest and have them research African Americans who have done or are doing what they desire to do.
- Have them create a project such as a play, video, art project, invention, etc.
- When teaching literature, provide students with great American literature written by Black writers such as Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Kiley Reid.
- When teaching math and science, refer to Black scientists and mathematicians such as Katherine Johnson, Kelly Miller, and others.
Kimberly A. Morrow, M.Ed., is an author, educator and advocate.
By Cassandra Lane
Each February, Black History Month posts and emails fill the digital ethers, but we all know that Black history is American history with roots too deep and wide to be contained in a solitary month– as is the case with all such designated months. Still, we take this time to reflect on the history, struggles, joys and contributions that Black Americans have made in this country– and around the world.
While in-person events still mostly elude us, there is no shortage of ways to celebrate. You can learn about and appreciate Black history through literature (check out “The ABCs of Black History” and “Black Futures” for a start), visual art and films, music, panel discussions and more. Here is a roundup of what we’ve found so far, and we’ll keep our eyes and ears open for more.
PHOTO VIA LA COUNTY LIBRARY
Highlights at CAAM
The California African American Museum never disappoints. Its offerings for Black History Month are robust, including story times, a panel with about Black women in rock and roll, a film screening of “Body and Soul” featuring the acclaimed actor and activist Paul Robeson and a healing circle for men.
In its newsletter, CAAM writes that the annual celebration of achievements by African Americans dates back to 1926, and was the brainchild of writer and historian Carter G. Woodson (“The Mis-Education of the Negro”). Woodson is one of 27 revolutionary men profiled in CAAM’s current exhibition Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth., which will be on view once museums can reopen.
To learn more about these events and more, visit caamuseum.org.
New library card
The Los Angeles County Library is ringing in this year’s Black History Month will a new library card.
The special edition 19th Amendment Centennial library cards features Moses X Ball’s “Resistance and Restitution” painting. Ball’s artwork depicts five important Black woman suffragists who fought for an intersectional vision linking race, class and gender: Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, Nannie H. Burroughs, Mary B. Talbert and Frances E.W. Harper. Moses’ work declares that they deserve proper recognition for their accomplishments with improving the lives of all women.
The library will also host a genealogy workshop, kids’ book parties, virtual programs and make reading recommendations all month long. You can read our review of one of the library’s recommendations, “The ABCs of Black History” by Rio Cortez. For more, visit the library’s website.
PHOTO VIA CAAM
And speaking of libraries, make sure to check out this blog post from the Los Angeles Public Library as well keep tabs on what its libraries will bring us to help celebrate Black history and achievement as well.
At the theatre
In celebration of Black History Month, The Groundlings Theatre and School will host a series of online performances and panels in an effort to further explore diversity and inclusion in comedy and entertainment.
The month-long celebration kicks off on Feb. 3 and 4 with two nights of special editions of their all-improvisational shows: “The Crazy Uncle Joe Show,” a long-form improv show and “Cookin’ With GAS,” a short-form improv show. Both shows will run throughout the month of February and all performances will be directed by Groundlings alumnus Jordan Black (Saturday Night Live, Last Man Standing).
The Groundlings have also partnered with the Amazing Grace Conservatory, a Los Angeles-based institution which offers programs and professional training in the performing arts for emerging artists and at-risk youths. On Feb. 28, Groundlings and Amazing Grace Conservatory students will come together in a joint performance of sketch comedy called “Sunday Funday.” Proceeds from the show will be split to benefit both non-profit institutions.
The Groundlings will host two special webinars in February to promote important conversations of diversity, equity and inclusion. On Feb. 14, Groundlings alumni and Main Company members Jordan Black, Daniele Gaither (“BoJack Horseman”), Julian Gant (“Call Me Kat”), Phil LaMarr (“Family Guy”) and Lyric Lewis (“A.P. Bio”) will join moderator and Main Company member Leonard Robinson (“Insecure”) in a discussion on sketch, improv, comedy and becoming a Groundlings Main Company member as a person of color. The conversation, called “This Is Us,” will dig deep into race and why representation with opportunities matter.
On Feb. 28, Leonard Robinson will also moderate “Racism in Sketch & Improv Comedy: Part 2,” a follow-up discussion with Groundlings consultant Povi-Tamu Bryant of Freedom Verses, a specialist in leadership, equity and diversity training. The webinar will dive deeper into racism, intersectionality and creating equity on sketch and improv comedy stages. Proceeds from both webinars will benefit The Groundlings Diversity Fund, which supports Groundlings students of diverse backgrounds at all levels.
The entire line up of special events for Black History Month include:
- The Crazy Uncle Joe Show: Feb. 3 and 17 at 8 p.m. PST.
- Feb. 3 show cast includes Jordan Black, Nyima Funk, Julian Gant, Sandi McCree, Leonard Robinson, and Gary Anthony Williams. Directed by Jordan Black.
- Cookin’ With GAS: February 4, 11, 18 and 25 at 8 p.m. PST.
- Feb. 4 show cast includes Nyima Funk, Daniele Gaither, Julian Gant, Phil LaMarr, Leonard Robinson, and Gary Anthony Williams. Directed by Jordan Black.
- This Is Us webinar on Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. PST with Jordan Black, Daniele Gaither, Julian Gant, Phil LaMarr and Lyric Lewis and Leonard Robinson.
- The Groundlings & Amazing Grace Conservatory Present: Sunday Funday on Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. PST. Cast to be announced.
- Racism in Sketch & Improv Comedy: Part 2 webinar on Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. PST with Leonard Robinson and Povi-Tamu Bryant.
Visit here for information on these events and to purchase tickets, visit.
Honor and excellence
Forest Lawn will mark Black History Month in a much-anticipated virtual celebration, “Preserving Honor & Excellence.” This performance of inspirational music, dance, and readings will stream live via Facebook Live on Feb. 13. The celebration honors Black culture with New Orleans-style jazz, a tap dancing and bucket drumming performance from the Broadway musical “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk,” as well as soul and rhythm and blues vocals.
The 2021 iteration of Forest Lawn’s annual celebration brings together acclaimed Black performers. As its name suggests, Jazz Band is a traditional New Orleans-style jazz band that transports listeners to the French Quarter’s Preservation Hall for a “second line” musical parade down Bourbon Street. The bucket drummers and tap-dancing twins featured in the special number from the award-winning Broadway musical “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk” highlight the history of Black men in America from slavery to the present. Vocals include tributes to a leader of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and the “High Priestess of Soul,” Nina Simone, and to rhythm and blues singer and songwriter Big Mama Thornton, who is credited for infusing Black cultural influence into the evolution of rock and roll.
The performance continues with three medleys set in 1920s Harlem during the great migration north. The music of legend Duke Ellington is followed by a tribute to the great Black opera stars who paved the way for Black classical musicians, with excerpts from Porgy & Bess. The final medley honors the music of Black Broadway, including The Wiz and The Color Purple. The celebration features Michael Ellington as emcee and spiritual keynotes by Pastor Jean Burch from Community Bible Church of Greater Pasadena and Pastor Geremy Dixon from the First Church of God Center of Hope in Los Angeles.
Continuing Forest Lawns’ tradition of community support, the memorial park will award four Black History Month scholarships of $1,000 each to select high school and college students.
Forest Lawn’s Preserving Honor & Excellence celebration will take place virtually at 12 p.m. Feb. 13. Streaming is available via Forest Lawn’s Facebook page live. Visit forestlawn.com for more information.
With its heart on giving back, the Brotherhood Crusade will host a food and clothing distribution on Feb. 27. The giveaway will begin at 8 a.m. and last until items are gone. Organizers expect to donate food baskets, new clothes and shoes and Target gift cards to 1,500 families.
The drive-through “grab and go” will take place at The Los Angeles Sentinel, 3800 Crenshaw Blvd., L.A.
Raising Black voices
If you and your family were inspired by the 2021 inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, PBS has a bounty of teaching resources for parents and educators to use in the coming weeks. This includes a new animated short of Gorman’s poem, “Talking Gets Us There,” an original she wrote for the PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism special.
Black Voices and History Resources:
- A collection that helps parents celebrate and honor Black history with conversation prompts, crafts and reading recommendations for little ones and adults alike
- A video where Oprah Winfrey interviews Stacey Abrams and shares her thoughts on voting for her values
- A lesson on astronaut Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to go into space.
- A video of writer Alice Walker sharing her stories from her childhood
- A panel of experts discussing how to use media to provide important context for kids and support anti-racist teaching
- Tips for creating a just and caring classroom
- A list of tools for anti-racist teaching
- The PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism special
Streaming & TV*
*Check your local listings
- PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism
- The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special
- Special is available to stream on PBS KIDS Video app
- PBS KIDS: Feb. 9 and Feb. 11
- PBS KIDS 24/7 Channel: Feb. 10 and Feb. 16
- PBS KIDS Family Night event: Feb. 19 – 21
- Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum
- Episodes that celebrate Black leaders available to stream on the PBS KIDS Video app and YouTube
- “Celebrating Black Leaders” episodes will air throughout the month, including a PBS KIDS Family Night event the weekend of Feb. 5 – 7
- Featured episodes include: “I am Harriet Tubman,” “I am Jesse Owens,” “I am Ella Fitzgerald,” “I am Rosa Parks,” “I am Thurgood Marshall,” “I am Maya Angelou,” “I am Frederick Douglass,” “I am Zora Neale Hurston” and “I am Wilma Rudolph”