Guide to Black History Month in Birmingham

Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra will be in town for Black History Month in Birmingham
Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra will be at the Alys Stephens Center Thursday, February 21. Photo from Facebook

The fact that Presidents’ Day is right in the middle of Black History Month is no coincidence. In the early 1900s, Carter G. Woodson documented the contributions of African Americans. He wanted to create Black History Week during a time when African Americans were already celebrating both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays. The first Black History Week took place in 1926. The US has observed it ever since. Fifty years after its founding, it expanded into Black History Month.

Today, there are many opportunities to observe Black History Month in Birmingham. We’ve put together a few.

Black History Month: places to visit

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument is a good place to visit during Black History Month in Birmingham.
The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument is a good place to visit any time. Photo by Larry O. Gay for Bham Now

There are a lot of places you can visit right here in Birmingham, both to learn about the Civil Rights movement and to celebrate African American contributions to baseball and music.

A great starting point would be the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument which includes the following sites:
• A.G. Gaston Hotel
• Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Kelly Ingram Park
16th Street Baptist Church
4th Avenue Historic Sites
Historic Bethel Baptist Church

You also won’t want to miss the new Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, down near Regions Field and Railroad Park, of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, located in the Carver Performing Arts Theatre.

Black History Month: things to do

  • Feb. 15, 6PM at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute: Voices: A magical evening of spoken word hosted by poet Kuumba Nia. Free and open to the public.
  • Feb. 15 – May 13, 2019: Alabama Justice: The Cases and Faces that Changed a Nation at Vulcan Park and Museum.
  • Feb. 1-17, 2019: MEMPHIS The Musical by Red Mountain Theatre Company. Family-friendly event.
  • Feb. 19, 10 am, Jones Valley Middle School, 2000 31st St. SW. The Underground Railroad Quilt Display and discussion.
  • Feb. 20, 10:30AM at Five Points West Library: screening of the film The Great Migration.
  • Feb 20, 3:30PM at the Inglenook Library: Readers are Leaders Book Club. Children’s book club will pay tribute to African American writer Virginia Hamilton.
  • Feb. 20, 4PM at the North Birmingham Library: Art Attack: African Wearable Art–teens and tweens will paint wooden bracelets using acrylic enamels in designs inspired by African motifs.
  • Feb. 20, 6PM at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. First of a two-part panel discussion series: Black image and the media. Free and open to the public.
  • Feb. 21, 11 AM at the Titusville Library: Awaken your Skin—engage in a skin care course that teaches you how to care for your skin.
  • Feb. 21, 7PM at the Alys Stephens Center: Delfeayo Marsalis presents the Uptown Jazz Orchestra. You won’t want to miss this show featuring New Orleans-style jazz. Tickets start at $48.
  • Feb. 22, 3:30PM at the Inglenook Library: Black Migrations: Spoken Word—recite a poem written by your favorite African American author
  • Feb. 22-24: The Alabama School of Fine Arts Theatre Department and STEEL MAGIC Theatre present Fences by August Wilson. 7PM Friday and Saturday, 2:30PM Sunday at the Dorothy Jemison Day Theater.
  • Feb. 23, 2-5PM at the Eastwood Library: Freedom The Underground Railroad Game–patrons will play a game that helps slaves escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad.
  • Feb. 23, 2:30PM at the Five Points West Library: presentation and lecture on Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series by professor and artist Steven Walker of Lawson State Community College.
  • Feb. 26, 3:30PM at the Wylam Library: African American Arts and Crafts—create and design your own African-inspired bracelet.
  • Feb. 26, 5:30 PM at the Powderly Library: Annual Black History Musical Concert with Wenonah High School Choir.
  • Feb. 27, 3:30PM at the Central Library: Made in Africa: Make it Your Own – with the use of various beads, shells, and other materials, patrons will create jewelry to recognize African culture.
  • Feb. 27, 6 PM at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Second in a two-part panel discussion series: colorism in Black fraternities and sororities. Free and open to the public.
  • Feb. 28, 6PM at the McWane Science Center: showing of the film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, starring Oprah WinreyAn important story with ties to the birth of bioethics. Free and open to the public. Reservations required.

Whether making bracelets, watching live performances, visiting historical sites, or watching movies sounds good to you, Birmingham has plenty of offerings to keep all of us busy for the rest of Black History Month.

Author: Sharron Mendel Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference