It’s Black History Month in The Land, and while we celebrate Black history throughout the year, our city is hosting iconic events especially throughout February. Connect to the culture through dance, music, discussion, and movies with offerings both in-person and virtual. Whether you venture out safely or prefer to stay home, we invite you to celebrate Black History in Cleveland.
Please be sure to check in with the below venues, as many are requiring advance registration even if offered for free. Some events require masks and most require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test.
Black History Month: Special Events
Cleveland Public Theatre | Feb. 4 - 26
This play tells the story of three women who were central to the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Movement through poetry, monologues, dance, and song. The play is part of the National New Play Network, and it was written by India Nicole Burton, a native to Akron. Tickets are “choose what you pay.”
Cleveland Museum of Art | Feb. 6
Returning with an expanded version, this choral program explores Civil War-era spirituals, tales of childhood in the Deep South, and more compositions from Black artists. Conducted by Jeannette Sorrell, the celebration of brotherhood and sisterhood features sopranos Ashlee Foreman and Kristine Caswelch alongside countertenor Reggie Mobley and bass Jonathan Woody. The youth choir, The Apollo’s Musettes, will join Apollo’s Fire musicians.
Cleveland Cavaliers Black Heritage Celebrations
Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse | Feb. 6, 9, 26, 28
Every year, the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate Black History Month through investing in Black futures, showcasing Black Businesses, and impacting the racial justice movement. The Cavs face the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 6, San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 9, Washington Wizards on Feb. 26, and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 28.
Karamu House | Feb. 11 to Mar. 6
Karamu House brings to life the night before Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination in award-winner Katori Hall’s play. King speaks with a strange housekeeper on racism while a storm rages outside. Karamu House has just returned to the stage. They have not had in-person events since March 2020 so negative COVID tests or vaccination cards are required, as well as masks.
Cleveland Jazz Orchestra | Feb. 11
Described as New Orleans Jazz meets Gospel Choir, this performance was a pre-pandemic highlight. Reginald Bowens will showcase his skills alongside premier talent Adrianna Miller. This show acts as a fundraiser for their Educational Outreach programs like instrument donation and a residency program for middle schoolers.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame | Feb. 12
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has teamed up with The Cleveland Public Library, The Beck Center for the Arts, The Children’s Museum of Cleveland, and Keep Music Alive to host the Virtual Fam Jam series. Join in on the Rock Hall’s YouTube channel for music education activities. The Beck Center for the Arts will host live performances. Keep Music Alive will have an instrument show and The Children’s Museum of Cleveland will be putting on crafts.
Community Cup Classic Foundation | Feb. 12 at 10 a.m.
This online presentation looks at the connection between baseball, social atmospheres, and American culture. The Black experience in US baseball has mirrored everyday social and equity pressures that Black Americans face.
Cleveland Pops Orchestra | Feb. 18
The Cleveland Pops Orchestra will perform the music of George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Scott Joplin. The conductor will be Carl Topilow and the vocalists include Evelyn Wright, Michael Preacely, and Yaron Kohlberg. Face masks will be required as well as proof of vaccination or a negative test.
Tower City Center | Feb. 19
In the heart of Downtown, the Black Business Expo will showcase over 100 of Cleveland’s Black-owned businesses all under one roof. The family-friendly event will also have live performances and a dedicated kids zone. The event will be open to residents and guests alike from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Mitchell’s | Feb. 27
Listen to the poetry of Love Ties and see Cleveland designers’ fashion on the runway. This Black History Month event is dedicated to those who lost their lives to law enforcement. It is presented by ACL Productions and starts at 7 p.m.
Black History Month: February Programming
This month the center has two very different programs on Frederick Douglass. The first engages a living history interpreter named Nathan M. Richardson to portray Frederick Douglass and Rania Assily, a professor of history at Cuyahoga Community College, in a conversation about democracy. (Feb. 17, 6 p.m.) On Feb. 19, Frederick Douglass returns for a family event at 1 p.m. where he has a dialogue with youth. The cost to this event also includes admission to The Cleveland History Center.
Various Cuyahoga County Public Library branches are offering Black History Month-related programming throughout February starting with a Virtual Black History Quiz Night, virtual Black Inventors crafts for kids. On Feb. 23, attend a family event called Constellations and Storytelling in African American History that was inspired by the picture book Follow the Drinking Gourd. Other events include Black-central book discussions on characters and a jazz band performance. At the end of the month, there is a Dr. Michael Strasser will present a historical perspective called Music of the Civil Rights Movement. Strasser is a professor of musicology at Baldwin Wallace University. Most events can be attended virtually with limited in-person attendance.
Euclid Public Library has some notable events this month, including Stories from the Underground Railroad, a Read-In, and a discussion called When Justice Isn't Just: Unarmed Police Incidents. The library will also have virtual Black History trivia, discussions on books written by Black authors, and a virtual program on African American genealogy with the former president of the African American Genealogical Society of Cleveland. Most events will be virtual.
Some Black History Month events include bingo days, scavenger hunts, crafts, and book clubs. Two standout events are a series called Honest Conversations with Black Female Entrepreneurs with local powerful women, and Hands On Art: African American Artists in Cleveland with original local art.
Cleveland’s beloved theater district is offering virtual performances and programs highlighting Black excellence and history in February. “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom” is the true story of the youngest person to walk all the way from Selma to Montgomery. A drama for kids titled “Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad” will start streaming online at the end of the month.
GCUFF has been providing a platform to highlight films, filmmakers, actors and other industry executives of color for over a decade now. The festival continues their mission during Black History Month programming a month-long celebration of Black stories that honor the Black experience. Free virtual screenings and passes for eight curated films, community forums and community events like Black History Trivia at Unbar Café. Check the GCUFF website for the upcoming release for scheduling and further details.