Celebrate Black History Month with These Local Events

Here’s a look at the exhibits, activities, tours, and more taking place this year
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Henry Ford Museum
Stop by The Henry Ford, pictured above, this Black History Month to see the Quiet & Loud Protest pop-up exhibit. // Photograph by Bradley Egen

From virtual tours and pop-up exhibits to film screenings and speaker series, here’s a look at what organizations and institutions across the metro Detroit area are doing this year to celebrate Black History Month.

The Henry Ford

The Dearborn museum is presenting many in-person and virtual exhibits and events this Black History Month. Locals can stop by the museum to see the Quiet & Loud Protest pop-up exhibit, which explores how artist-activists have used graphics to organize communities, and the featured With Liberty and Justice for All exhibit, which includes the Rosa Parks Bus. Throughout the month, The Henry Ford will also run a virtual speaker series that covers topics like empowering younger generations and communities year-round. The museum also invites the public to join curator Kristen Gallerneaux for a Twitter chat on Feb. 24 that will cover what the word “protest” means. For more information, visit thehenryford.org.

Southfield Parks & Recreation

Gather at the Southfield Pavilion on Feb. 5 for Southfield Parks & Recreation Department’s free Black History Month kick-off event. The Black History 101 Mobile Museum and a Black-owned Business Marketplace will be on site. The department will also host a Conversation & Cocktails event on Feb. 12 with musical and spoken word performances and a free movie night on Feb. 18 that includes a showing of the documentary The Black Godfather. The Secret Society of Twisted Story Tellers will close out the month on Feb. 25 with a performance of their show Cancel Culture. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online or at the Parks & Recreation Information Desk. For more information, visit facebook.com/southfieldparksandrecreation.

Detroit Institute of Arts

A youth poetry workshop on Feb. 19 with InsideOut Literary Arts and a virtual conversation on Feb. 24 with photographer and filmmaker Tyler Mitchell, whose work appears in the New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion exhibit, are among the events the DIA is hosting this Black History Month. Meanwhile, at the museum’s Detroit Film Theatre, locals can catch a conversation with the creatives behind the opera The Life and Times of Malcolm X on Feb 4., a performance by the Detroit Youth Choir on Feb. 12, and a show by Mollywop!, a Detroit funk, soul, jazz and R&B collective, on Feb. 18. For more information, visit dia.org.

Detroit Book City

On Feb. 19, Lathrup Village bookshop Detroit Book City will hold its 6th Annual African-American Family Book Expo. Guest will get the chance to purchase autographed books by Black independent authors from across the country. Youth education advocate Lathardus Goggins II is the featured guest author for the event. Admission is $1. Then on Feb. 26, Detroit Book City will host a virtual spoken-word open mic night dedicated to poems and stories about the African American experience. For more information, visit detroitbookcity.com.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

The Wright Museum’s 22,000-square-foot, 20-gallery And Still We Rise exhibit covers everything from Ancient Africa to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. Each Thursday in February, the museum will focus on a different area of the exhibit with virtual discussions on topics like the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the Emancipation Proclamation, and more. Additionally, every Friday in February, the museum will host a free, virtual Youth Speaks series. Participating performers will create work focused on themes like history, justice, equality, and Afrofuturism. Videos of each participant will be posted on the museum’s website each week, and at the end of the month, viewers will vote for their favorite. For more information, visit thewright.org.

Detroit Historical Society

The Detroit Historical Society’s free Feb. 17 Virtual Speaker Series features Malik Yakini, a 2021 Hour Detroiter and the executive director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. During the event, Yakini will talk about the history and modern-day impact of food as health and wealth for the Black community. Then on Feb. 19, the organization hosts a virtual tour through Midtown and Downtown Detroit that covers safe havens, swinging spots, and other spaces that helped African Americans navigate the city. Tickets are $12 for members and $15 for guests. Rounding out the month is the On the Shoulders of Giants: Celebrating Black History Month event. Free with online registration, the event takes place at the Detroit Historical Museum and includes a panel, a Paradise Valley-themed craft, a marketplace with local entrepreneurs. For more information, visit detroithistorical.org.

University of Detroit Mercy

The University of Detroit Mercy is presenting a number of Black History Month Events, most of which are reserved for students and employees. However, on Feb. 7, the school will host a public virtual talk with author and The Atlantic staff writer Clint Smith on his book, How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America. Named one of the best books of 2021 by The New York Times, How the Word is Passed explores how the history and memory of slavery in the U.S.’ affects our country still today. Those interested in participating in the free event must register online in advance. For more information, visit udmercy.edu.  

City Institute  

City Institute is hosting several free Black History Month tours in February. On Feb. 10, catch the Black History along Detroit’s Riverfront Virtual Tour, which will cover topics like the Riverfront’s role in the Underground Railroad and historical figures like educator Fanny Richards and abolitionist William Lambert. The Redlining, Racism, and Segregation Virtual Tour will take place Feb. 17 and will discuss how systemic racism has been part of Detroit since its founding. Finally, the Black History By Those That Lived It Virtual Tour takes place on Feb. 24. Tour guides Glen Hendricks and Michael Daniels will share their personal stories about coming to Detroit and growing up in Black Bottom and Paradise Valley. For more information, visit thecityinstitute.com.

Ann Arbor District Library

Catch virtual film screenings courtesy of the Ann Arbor District Library this Black History Month. On Feb. 1, the library shows The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, a documentary about the death of Black transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson. On Feb. 13, watch Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali, a film about the friendship and fallout between the two men. Then on Feb. 24, the library presents an episode of High on the Hog, a Netflix series that traces the origins of African American cuisine. Visit aadl.org for more information.

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