Black History Month

By Alecia Haney

As you probably know from your years in school, February is Black History Month. Remember – back in the day, suddenly every class included special content – perhaps you read Toni Morrison in English class, learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X in history, maybe you even watched Hidden Figures in math class… all of which could (and arguably should) be included in the year-round curriculum. But this designation and recognition are warranted because of America’s history of Black disenfranchisement and systemic racism. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense to dedicate a month to lift up the accomplishments of Black Americans.

Originally established as a week-long celebration in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the event grew from one week to a full month when it was recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976, only forty-five years ago. Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. President Ford challenged the American people to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Read about how the current social issues, including the Black Lives Matter movement, are affecting the recognition of Black History Month:

Celebrate our shared history by making it a point to Celebrate Black History this month (and hey! -make a point of listening to Black Voices year-round!)

What events can I participate in to celebrate Black History Month?

Check out an event hosted by the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH):

Detroit Branch of ASALH, 2021 Annual Black History Month Program
February 6 9 a.m. – February 14 4 p.m. EST
ASALH Detroit in partnership with Cinema Detroit will host its annual Black History Month Program starting Feb. 6 – Feb. 14, 2021. Showing the restored version of the film Native Son written by Richard Wright where Wright plays the protagonist Bigger Thomas. This viewing can take place anywhere in the continental United States. Tickets are $20 each. A discussion of the film will take place during the zoom Feb. 14 General Membership Meeting at 4 p.m. EST.

The 2021 Black History Month Virtual Festival
Hosted by ASALH, the 2021 Black History Month Virtual Festival has a full calendar of events, marking the 95th annual Black History Theme: “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity”

Visit one of our local museums:

Detroit Historical Museum
Open Thursday – Saturday (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m. – 5 p.m.).
Advance ticket purchases for a 1.5-hour time block are encouraged, but not required. Student tickets are $8.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Open Thursday – Saturday (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.) and Sunday (12 p.m. – 5 p.m).
Tickets are $10.

The Henry Ford
Open seven days a week (9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Tickets are $25.

Motown Museum
Closed through at least January 31 due to COVID-19.
Tickets are $15 (when open).

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)
The DIA is hosting a month long celebration that includes a ton of online activities – all for free.
Open Wednesday – Friday (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.) and Saturday – Sunday (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Tickets are free for residents of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties.
Student tickets are $8.

For timely discussion of the importance of studying Black History, consider the following articles:

CCS Community members, consider attending:

Black History Month Webinar
Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Time: 12 p.m. – 1:30pm

About this event: From inspirational stories of individual achievements to highlights on company strategies, this engaging Black History Month webinar will celebrate and explore different dimensions of diversity within the Black community. This is an opportunity for attendees to gain valuable insights into unique ways to support and uplift Black colleagues and communities, and understand the barriers, trends and actions we can take to continue to foster advancement.

Other Events – Virtual

  • Explore the virtual exhibitions, online collections and digital resources of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
    • Of particular interest, please attend the online discussion: Historically Speaking: Four Hundred Souls – A Conversation With Ibram Kendi And Keisha N. Blain
      Tuesday, February 2, 2021 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
      Location: (Online) hosted by the African American History and Culture Museum
      Cost: Free. Registration Recommended.About this Event:
      Renowned scholars Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire have assembled 90 extraordinary writers to document the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present. Entitled Four Hundred Souls, each contributor writes about a five-year period of 400 years of American history using essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons, the untold stories of ordinary people, as well as landmarks, laws, and artifacts. An extraordinary moderated discussion featuring editors Kendi and Blain will focus on historic eras such as Slavery, Reconstruction, Segregation, and their sustained impact on the United States.
  • Hosted by the Smithsonian Institute Portrait Gallery: consider joining:
    Wind Down Wednesday: Good Trouble
    Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021
    Time: 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
    Cost: Free
    Location: Instagram Live @smithsoniannpgAbout this event:
    In partnership with independent mixologists, crafters, artists, and other experts, Wind Down Wednesday offers an optimistic approach to the middle of the week. In February, we celebrate African Americans’ contributions to U.S. culture and history – but this important recognition should not be limited to 28 days of the year. As the late congressman, leader and activist John Lewis would remark, the work we need to do often involves making “good trouble.” In honor of his activist spirit, we will discuss the museum’s newly acquired portrait of Lewis and pay homage to his quest for civil rights.
  • Eventbrite is spotlighting “Black History Every Month” You can follow along at this event:
    Because, as they say on the site, “Real change relies on the forging of communities and creating spaces for enlightening conversations to take place.” Meant to inspire action, education, and awareness, the selections will be updated every week to include a variety of events “from panel discussions with influential Black voices through to open mic poetry nights and decolonized history lectures.”

Explore Modern Black Leaders:

Black Leaders You Should Know – an updated (though not exhaustive) list of current Black Leaders as compiled by

To learn about the impact of young Detroiters and how they are making history in the present day, check the Skillman Foundation website to be inspired by its 20 Black Detroiters Making History campaign, which “will showcase Black Detroit youth making a difference in their communities.”

Review Quotes that will inspire you from historical Black leaders


“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.”
-Angela Davis, Author and Activist