It’s Black History Month, and many organizations around town are celebrating with specially curated events. From lectures to opera performances to arts and crafts, we’ve rounded up some of the best ways to commemorate African American history and culture this February.
Houston Grand Opera’s Giving Voice
This free live-streamed concert celebrates Black voices in opera, featuring several of the most renowned African American opera singers in the country, including tenor Larry Brownlee and soprano Nicole Heaston. The performance, originally streamed January 22, showcases a wide range of music, including Adrienne Danrich and Drew Hemenger’s “Breathe,” a contemporary response to George Floyd’s death. Heaston, who performs the piece, says she cried while singing it.
“I know the whole Black Lives Matter can be a lightning-rod situation, but for me, this song just tells Adrienne’s truth and what she felt about the situation,” Heaston told Houstonia. “Just like Bob Dylan wrote songs that came out of the turmoil in our country.”
Thru February 21. Free. Online. For more information, visit houstongrandopera.org.
9 Pieces: An Evening with Kam Franklin
The Holocaust Museum Houston is hosting The Suffers’s lead singer, Kam Franklin, for a guest lecture and performance about “why she believes the healing and unity will not occur without acceptance of the trauma, radical healing, empathy, education, and inclusivity.”
6 p.m. Feb 4. Free, register online. More information here.
GRE Black History Month: The Importance of African American Family History
Throughout the month, Houston Public Library is presenting its GRE Black History Month series, with “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” as this year’s theme. The series kicks off with a family-research workshop with historian and genealogist Debra Blacklock-Sloan.
6:30–7:30 p.m. Feb 4. Free, register online. More information here.
Rienzi & ROCO Celebrate Margaret Bonds
Tune into this Facebook Live event honoring Margaret Bonds, the famed composer and pianist who became the first African American to play with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and who often worked closely with legendary poet Langston Hughes. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and The ROCO have collaborated to stream this free performance celebrating Bond’s 30-plus-year career.
7 p.m. Feb 4. Free. Online. More information here.
BLCK Market @ Avenida Houston
Support small Black businesses every Saturday this month at Avenida de las Americas. The outdoor pop-up BLCK Market features more than 20 vendors. Throughout the afternoon, there will be live music and food trucks. Because of Covid-19, temperatures will be taken upon entrance to the market and masks are required.
1–5 p.m. Feb 6, 13, 20, 27. Free. Avenida de las Americas. More information here.
I, Too, Am America
Stream Ensemble Theatre’s jazz-infused journey across U.S. history, paying tribute to important moments of the African American experience, including Douglas Turner Ward’s 1965 play, Day of Absence, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The show’s music will highlight patriotic songs and African American spirituals.
Feb 7–28. $25. Online. More information here.
Film Screening: 13th
In her 2016 film, Ava DuVernay examines with brutal honesty mass criminalization, the American prison industry, and the history of racial inequality. Watch this Holocaust Museum Houston screening via Zoom on Thursday, February 11.
6 p.m. Feb 11. Free, register online. More information here.
The State of Black Texas
This Houston Public Media broadcast, in collaboration with the Houston Defender Network, will discuss issues like redistricting, criminal justice, and Covid-19. Speakers include Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Texas State Senator Borris Miles (Houston), and Texas State Senator Royce West (Dallas). If you miss the first event, an encore will be rebroadcast on Feb 28 at 8 p.m.
7 p.m. Feb 11. Free. News 88.7. More information here.
Black Men in White Coats Movie Discussion
Join the Baylor College of Medicine for a panel discussion of Dr. Dale Okorodudu’s documentary, Black Men in White Coats. Register in advance before February 7; a link to the film will be provided.
5:30 p.m. Feb 12. Free, register online. More information here.
VIRTUAL Read & Relax: African American History Month
Scoop up your kids, and join LSC-Tomball Community Library on Facebook Live for this special edition of its Read & Relax series. In honor of African American History Month, Ms. Kelly will read two children’s books by African American authors. Also check out the library’s reading list for Black history and culture.
10 a.m. Feb 13. Free. Online. More information here.
Race and the Houston Police Department with Dr. Dwight Watson
Texas Southern University professor Jesus Esparza will moderate a conversation with Texas State University assistant professor Dwight Watson on his 2005 book, Race and the Houston Police Department 1930-1990. In it, Watson examines the Houston Police Department’s race relations and the dynamics of change over a 50-year period.
6 p.m. Feb 18. Free, register online. More information here.
The History of African and African American Studies in Southeastern Texas
Four local universities—Prairie View A&M University, Rice University, Texas Southern University, and University of Houston—have teamed up to form the Southeastern Texas African and African American Studies Consortium. Join panelists on February 19 for the consortium’s first-ever event.
6:30 p.m. Feb 19. Free, register online. More information here.
Clayton Library Presents: Freedmen's Bureau
The Freedmen’s Bureau was a temporary government agency established in 1865 to help former Black slaves in the Civil War’s aftermath. Learn more about the bureau and how to utilize its records in this two-part series from Clayton Libraries. At 10 a.m. guest speaker Sharon Batiste Gillins will teach you to identify and locate Freedmen’s Bureau records. At 11:30 a.m., Shamele Jordan will lead a two-hour hands-on workshop to help you find family members.
Navigating Freedmen's Bureau Records: 10 a.m. Feb 20. Free, register online. More information here.
Freedmen's Bureau Experience: 11:30 a.m. Feb 20. Free, register online by February 15. More information here.
Paint Your History
Embrace your crafty side with the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum’s monthly Paint Your History event series—where each month the art highlights a different piece of African American history.
11 a.m. Feb 20. $5, Paint Your History ticket; $10, ticket and museum admission. Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, 3816 Caroline St. Learn more here.
A Sunday to Remember
This two-man show is part of the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum’s Living History program. In it, two men, Benjamin and Joe, will describe their involvement during the Civil Rights Movement, according to the museum’s website, including the March 7, 1965, march in Selma, also known as “Bloody Sunday.”
1 p.m. Feb 21. Free, register online. Learn more here.
CAMH’s Slowed and Throwed: Records of the City Through Mutated Lenses
When Contemporary Art Museum Houston reopens its doors on February 18, it will also reopen its Slowed and Throwed, which opened last year just before the pandemic hit Houston and pays tribute to legendary Houston beatmaker DJ Screw. The exhibition features 15 artists, who utilize DJ Screw’s signature style of layering and mixing to make their own art. Read more about the exhibition here.
On view Feb 21 thru Apr 12. Free. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose Blvd. More information here.
Sign into Microsoft Teams for Kingwood Public Library’s monthly virtual cooking class. This month, themed “Traditional African Cuisine,” learn how to make spicy chicken zigni curry, a popular East African dish.
11:30 a.m. Feb 23. Free, register online. More information here.
An Evening with the Lacks Family: The Story Behind The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
In 1951 Henrietta Lacks’s cells were taken without her knowledge by doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Her cells became the first immortal human cells grown in a lab, and have aided medical innovations like the polio vaccine, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. In this moderated discussion, Lacks’s family will discuss how they found out, years later, about her cells.
6 p.m. Feb 23. Free, register online. For more information, click here.
Race & Social Justice Book Club
Join HPL’s monthly book club discussing race and social justice in America. This month the club is reading Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson, which examines the underlying infrastructure on which race relations and social divisions are built. To learn more, read this NPR interview with Wilkerson.
7 p.m. Feb 23. Free, register online. For more information, click here.
Book Discussion: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Follow up “An Evening with the Lacks Family” with Holocaust Museum Houston’s moderated discussion on medical ethics, civil rights, and Henrietta Lacks’s contribution to science.
6 p.m. Feb 24. Free, register online. For more information, click here.
GRE Black History Month: Covid-19: A Global Pandemic's Impact on the Black Family
As part of HPL’s Black History Month series, Prairie View A&M University associate sociology professor Farrah Cambrice will discuss how Covid-19, which has disproportionately impacted African Americans, has impacted Black family structures.
7 p.m. Feb 25. Free, register online. More information here.
A Night at the Museum
The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is taking its annual gala online. During the evening, the museum will reveal its African American Athletes Breaking Barriers exhibition and celebrate the guest of honor, 1968 Summer Olympian Tommie Smith. Former Olympic athlete Joe DeLoach will give the night’s keynote address.
6 p.m. Feb 26. $50, virtual access; $75, virtual access and a raffle ticket; $200, virtual access, raffle ticket, and dinner for two. Online. More information here.
All Month Long
Black History Month Programming on PBS
Throughout the month, Houston Public Media and PBS will be playing films and stories centered around Black history and culture in America. Highlights include Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise at 8 p.m. February 8, Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America at 8 p.m. February 9, and Mr. Soul! at 9 p.m. February 22.
See the full schedule here.
Follow Emancipation Park Conservancy on social media as it participates in #BlackHistoryEveryday, a national virtual campaign to celebrate African American excellence. Throughout the month and beyond, the conservancy will be highlighting “incredible strides of the Third Ward community” and other events. And while Houston’s oldest public park is currently closed because of Covid-19, when it reopens, check out its guided audio tour.
All month long. Social Media. For more information, click here.
Become an Ally
Use this month to learn more about the African American experience in the U.S. The YMCA of Greater Houston has plenty of resources, including activities, definitions, links, and more, through its Equity Innovation Center. Also, check out our list of books to read your way to anti-racism
Read a Book
After you finish our list on anti-racism, check out Houston Public Library’s Black History Month reading list. There are dozens of essays, memoirs, biographies, histories, and more, including The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama. HPL also has E-book and audiobook options.
See the full reading list here.
One of the best things you can do this month is support a local Black-owned business. If you’re looking to eat, check out our recommendations—some of our favorite restaurants. If you want to shop, check out this list of awesomely creative Black-owned shops around town.