Your guide to Black History Month in Birmingham, including events and where to visit

The Aeolians of Oakwood University
The Aeolians of Oakwood University will perform at the Alys Stephens Center on Feb.9. Photo via The Aeolians’ Facebook.

In the middle of the 20th century, Birmingham rose to national and international fame as the center of the Civil Rights Movement. Through the efforts of Civil Rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Birmingham’s own Fred Shuttlesworth, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made all men equal in the eyes of the law. During Black History Month, we honor these leaders and more for their struggle toward equality. Here are must-see places and events you should check out in Birmingham during Black History Month. 

Birmingham Civil Rights Insitute

During Black History Month, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) is hosting several FREE events. The events are both educational and celebratory. Plus, the BCRI offers free courses that educate K-12 students about the civil rights movement through interactive activities.

Community of Readers: How Billy Learned to Play

  • When: Sat., Feb. 8 | 10AM-4PM
  • What: Hear from Shellie Moore Guy, the author of “How Billy Learned to Play.” A book fair will follow the reading with free books, author signings, refreshments, and children’s activities.
  • Where: Birmingham Civil Rights Insitute,  520 16th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203
  • Cost: Free, open to the public

Are You Fit to Vote?: Voter Registration & Education

  • When: Wed., Feb. 12 | 10AM-5PM
  • What: the BCRI partners with Woke Vote for voter registration, literacy tests, voting deterrent education and giveaways.
  • Where: Birmingham Civil Rights Insitute,  520 16th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203
  • Cost: Free, open to the public

Birmingham Public Library

Black History Month event at the Birmingham Public Library
The BPL kicked off Black History month by having the Birmingham African-American Genealogy Group host the 2020 Black Heritage Fair in the Linn-Henley Research Library. Photo via Birmingham Public Library’s Facebook.

With 19 branches throughout the city, the Birmingham Public Library is hosting a whopping 60+ events during Black History Month. Check out this full list of events–here are four that I’m really looking forward to!

Bards & Brews Open Mic

  • When: Fri., Feb.7 | 6PM-9PM
  • What: The monthly event hosted by the BPL invites you to perform poetry on the topic of black history this month. It’s hosted by Brian Voice Porter Hawkins and will have beer provided by Interstallar Ginger Beer of Pelham
  • Where: Birmingham Improv Theatre, 2208 7th Ave S, Birmingham, Alabama 35233
  • Cost: Free, open to the public

Race and Real Estate: Redlining Birmingham in 1938 + An Emblem of Segregation: The 1926 Birmingham Zoning Map

  • When: Sun., Feb.9 and Sun., Feb.23 | 3PM-5PM
  • What: In these two events, Paul Boncella of the Southern History Department discusses how a map created in 1938 and other documents by the federal government led to racial division.
  • Where: Birmingham Central Public Library, 2100 Park Pl, Birmingham, Alabama 35203
  • Cost: Free, open to the public

What Else They Brought Presented by Octavia Kuransky

  • When: Tue., Feb.25 | 5:30-7:30
  • What: A lecture about the African influence on art, including examples of African-American fine art, and a look at how African-American history and identity are reflected in contemporary art.
  • Where: Birming Public Library Central Library, 2100 Park Pl, Birmingham, Alabama 35203
  • Cost: Free, open to the public

Theater, performances and art

The Aeolians of Oakwood University
The Aeolians of Oakwood University was formed in 1946 and continues to be recognized across the world. Photo via Alys Stephens Center’s Facebook.

A wonderful way to celebrate Black History Month is through the arts. Several organizations around Birmingham are hosting performances that honor and remember the past and focus on the present day.

The Message! The Music! The Movement! The Change! – A True Civil Rights Play

  • When:  Fri., Feb 7 | 6PM to 8pm
  • What: The play and musical performances begin in 1619 and take the audience through the fight for Civil Rights. The show is accompanied by a dinner from local chefs.
  • Where: Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church, 1530 4th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203
  • Cost: Call or email Bessie Bell for tickets, $30-$35

Echoes of Yesterday Exhibit

  • When: Fri., Feb.7 | 7PM-9PM
  • What: Studio 2500 honors black history and culture through art and discussion.
  • Where: Studio 2500, 2500 26th Ave. N., Birmingham, Alabama 35234
  • Cost: $10, kids 13 and under admission free

Build The Bridge

Aeolians of Oakwood University

  • When: Sun.,Feb.9 | 5PM-7PM
  • What: Named the 2017 Choir of the World, the Aeolians of Oakwood University are known to inspire and move the souls of audiences. Their music choral music ranges from the Baroque era to the 21st century.
  • Where: UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave South, Birmingham, Alabama 35205
  • Cost: Tickets are $10-$20

Home Plate Heroes

  • When: Sat., Feb. 22 | 1PM-4pm
  • What: A stage production of black history in baseball throughout the years.
  • Where: Negro Southern League Museum, 120 16th Street South, Birmingham, Alabama 35233
  • Cost: Free, open to the public

The Untold Stories

  • When: Sat., Feb.29 | 5PM-7PM
  • What: The Youth Ministry for Christian Dance will present a history honoring the brave pioneers for change in Birmingham and our country.
  • Where: Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, 1101 Martin Luther King Jr Dr, Birmingham, Alabama 35211
  • Cost: Free, open to the public

Additional Events:

Visit Birmingham

Celebrate Black History Month at Kelly Ingram Park
At Kelly Ingram Park. Photo by Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now.

In addition to the places mentioned above, make sure you visit these spots on the national trail in Birmingham. Also, take a look at the places featured in the proposed Freedom Walk, such as the Fourth Ave. Historic District.

Stops on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail

  • Civil Rights Institute: Did you know the museum holds the actual door to the jail cell that held Dr. King?
  • Kelly Ingram Park: This beautiful public park, just outside of the 16th Street Baptist Church, was the site of many large-scale demonstrations during the Civil Right’s Movement. Statues pay homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, and the four young girls killed during the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing in 1963. 
  • Sixteenth Street Baptist Church: Birmingham’s oldest black church recently unveiled a new exhibit, which tells the complete story of the famous congregation. 
  • Bethel Baptist Church: The home church of civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth, Bethel Baptist was the headquarters for the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights–and was bombed three times.

Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit at the Southern Museum of Flight

Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit
The Tuskegee Airmen were trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. Photo via Southern Museum of Flight.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps (AAC) and promoted the integration of the U.S. armed forces. After flying more than 15,000 individual sorties during World War II, they earned over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses.

  • Tickets: $7, active military + families get in for free
  • Address: 4343 73rd Street North Birmingham, AL 35206
  • Website

Another way to celebrate is by showing extra support to black-owned businesses. We’ve highlighted a few in this article.

We know we missed something. What are some other events in the city celebrating Black History Month? Let us know on social @bhamnow!

Irene Richardson
Irene Richardson
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