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It has been an important year historically with so much movement and progress to be added to Black History. It’s critically important to learn from the past and tell stories of the African Americans who built, created and changed Cleveland and the U.S. So, join in virtually for celebrations, tributes, discussions and reflections hosted by institutions and attractions around The Land.
Black Heritage Celebrations | Feb. 1, 17 and 24
The Cleveland Cavaliers kick off their Black Heritage Celebrations on Feb. 1 with their home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Cavs will amplify their celebration during “Roots of Rock” when they take on the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 17. The festivities continue on Feb. 24 when the Cavs face off against the Atlanta Hawks. Check their website for ongoing updates and more information on these special events.
The Impact of Shuffle Along | Feb. 1-28
Karamu House is co-hosting a special program with The Musical Theatre Project, inspired by the 1921 musical “Shuffle Along.” With nearly 20 songs from the original production, “The Impact of Shuffle Along” program explores the history of the 100-year-old musical, which was the first musical written and performed by Black Americans. Described as a musical multi-media concert and documentary, the program incorporates Karamu’s 2019 production of “Shuffle Along,” which is free and open to the public.
Black History Matters | Feb. 1-15
Called Black History Matters, this free event includes films like “Don’t be Nice,” “Coded Bias,” and “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality.” The Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival also will host a game night, as well as cultural presentations on Black film. The virtual celebrations strive to honor Black experience, art and achievements.
The Politics of Sound | Feb. 3
How has music served as a tool for political change? Join Andrew Cappetta, Manager of Exhibition and Collection Programs at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Nwaka Onwusa, Vice President of Curatorial Affairs & Chief Curator at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, for a conversation about the power of music and artists who have harnessed word and sound to fight for social justice and racial equality.
SiTG Black Baseball Stories Vol 2: Black Baseball Chronology | Feb. 13
The Community Cup Classic Foundation, Josh Gibson Foundation, Lifeline Sports and The PARTNERSHIP have joined together to create a year of programming on Black baseball called “Soul in the Game Baseball Stories Vol. 2: Black Baseball Chronology.” For Black History Month this February, the presentation focuses on baseball from the 1920s to the 1950s in Cleveland, which delves into the segregation of BIPOC athletes and the formation of the Negro National League.
Rhapsody in Black | Feb. 22-28
Enjoy this one-man show about a man who struggles and eventually transcends racism. “Rhapsody in Black” follows this man’s journey from the ghettos of McKeesport, PA to adult life as one of the few black actors. Inspired by his life, LeLand Gantt perfected this performance at NYC’s Actors Studio with Estelle Parsons. His final performance is followed by a Q&A.
The Baseball Heritage Museum is hosting several segments called “Talking Baseball” and their February programming focuses on Black athletes, managers and sportscasters in baseball. Hosted by Justice Hill, the hour-long talks are hosted on Facebook Live. The museum also plans to reopen to the public on Feb. 12 with updated exhibits.
The Cleveland History Center stepped up their programming this year by featuring Black history and Black heritage including a spotlight on Cleveland activist Charles Waddell Chesnutt on Feb. 16, a presentation on the role of religion in Black communities on Feb. 17; a children’s program on three of Cleveland’s Black inventors on Feb. 24; and a new exhibit about women in politics featuring women of color and their fight for the right to vote. The Cleveland History Center also will reopen to the public in February with more Black History programming to come from their African American Archive Auxiliary.
Alongside their main month-long event, Karamu House is offering virtual live events every Friday during February. A poetry workshop “Inspired by Langston” kicks off the first Friday, followed by a family African dance workshop, the story of “Anansi the Spider” for children, line dancing with Robert Johnson, and concluding with a hip hop dance workshop.
Various Cuyahoga County Public Library branches are offering Black History Month-related programming throughout February including a virtual four-week course on “Healing from the Trauma of Institutional Racism” for parents. Additionally, the Cuyahoga County Public Library session will host a Zoom event entitled “Black Men in White Coats,” which covers the scarcity of Black medical professionals. Please visit cuyahogalibrary.org for more information on events at different branches throughout the region.
Case Western Reserve University has pushed its MLK Convocation with Heather McGhee to Feb. 5. The school also will host a lecture from their Power of Diversity Series on “Women in Congress and their Impact on U.S. Politics” with speaker Donna Brazile on Feb. 9. Black History Month events may continue to be added to the CWRU’s calendar (check website for more details).
This year, enjoy the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Black History Month Celebration in-person or virtually through the “It’s Been Said All Along: Voices of Rage, Hope & Empowerment” exhibit, which features Black artists and their use of music to respond to racism, fight for human rights and promote social justice. Also, check out a musical tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the museum’s YouTube page, as well as a number of lectures that will take place throughout Black History Month. Visit the Rock Hall’s online events calendar for information.
This virtual exhibit dives deep into Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, a historic landmark of the Civil Rights movement. Curator Shelli Reeves worked to gather stories, history and photos of the neighborhood for the exhibit. In addition to viewing online, you can also set up an appointment to view the exhibit at ThirdSpace Action Lab in Cleveland.
Euclid Public Library is offering a wide array of Black History Month virtual programming. Part of the ClevNet network, this library has events for families, teens, kids and adults. Programs include history lessons on slavery in Spanish Florida and Black settlements in Ohio, a safe space for people of color to talk about current events and oppression, and a discussion of the documentary “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power.” There is a series called “WOKE” for teens that tackles issues like the school-to-prison pipeline for Black children. There are also Black history-themed storytimes, games, crafts and book discussions. Check the Euclid Library’s calendar for more events.
Hop onto Zoom on Feb.11 to discuss essays from the “1619 Project” called “Stealing Black Culture: Music.” Additionally, on Feb. 13, Author Susan Kaeser will be at the library to give a talk on her book “Resisting Segregation: Cleveland Heights Residents Shape their Community 1964-1976,” which holds first-person accounts from Cleveland Heights residents who fought for racial justice.
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