GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A host of events, from talks to documentary screenings, take place throughout the Grand Rapids area in February.
February is designated as Black History Month. Each year, we focus on the many accomplishments of African Americans to celebrate their pivotal role in United States history.
Events in the region are happening in-person and virtually, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is an overview of some planned events:
Grand Valley State University
Black History Celebration: Changing the narrative of black men in higher education
Thursday February 3
6-7 p.m. Held virtually. A panel discussion on black men’s experiences in higher education with a particular focus on representation, support and retention. To register click here.
Tuesday February 8
Black History Celebration: Talk Back Tuesday: The Invisibility of Black Women
This event is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. at the Center for Women and Gender Equity, 1201 Kirkhof Center, 1 Campus Dr. in Allendale. This presentation discusses disparities among missing black women. Register here.
Wednesday February 16
Black History Celebration: color conversations
The event from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. will be held virtually. What is Critical Race Theory? The implications of eliminating it versus the benefits of keeping it. Register here.
Monday February 21
Black History Celebration: Don’t lock me up
The event will be held virtually from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. This presentation will explore how multiracial and biracial individuals are often marginalized, isolated, alienated, and forced to choose one race instead of intrinsically valuing both or all of their wealth. races in many spaces. Register here.
Friday February 25
Black History Celebration: Department of Music, Drama and Dance Presents: 12 pieces from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s 24 Negro Melodies, op. 59 recital. The event will be held virtually at 7:30 p.m. via www.gvsu.edu/mtd/livestream.
Grand Rapids Public Museum
During Black History Month, the Public Museum, located at 272 Pearl St. NW, encourages members of the community to visit its Newcomers: the inhabitants of this place exhibit, to learn more about the stories of the black community here in West Michigan. Interactive maps and photos show where different ethnic groups of newcomers settled in West Michigan.
There are over 600 artifacts from dozens of ethnic groups. Each item is described as telling a compelling story about our newcomers: stories of work, play and family; religion and prejudice; cultural traditions and more.
The Public Museum plans to share content on its social pages throughout February for the community to learn and explore. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free for Kent County children ages 17 and under, and general admission is reduced to $5 for adult county residents and $3 for seniors.
Grand Rapids Public Library
- Music (NOT) in the stacks: Debra Perry and Majestic Praise
« Premiers Wednesday, February 2, 2022, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Virtual event | GRPL’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Debra Perry & Majestic Praise is a tightly knit group that shares the common thread of their faith. The first successful project titled Forever He Reigns produced many hits, which were written and arranged by Debra and her brother Gerald Perry.
- It’s not all downhill from here: change at any age. An Evening with Terry McMillan is a virtual event taking place on Zoom on Thursday, February 3, 2022, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Registration required.
“Terry McMillan is the bestselling author of Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, A Day Late and a Dollar Short, The Interruption of Everything, I Almost Forgot About You, and the publisher of Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction Four of Ms. McMillan’s novels have been adapted for film: Waiting to Exhale (Twentieth Century Fox, 1995); How Stella Got Her Groove Back (Twentieth Century Fox, 1998); Disappearing Acts (HBO Pictures , 1999); and A Day Late and a Dollar Short (Lifetime, 2014).
In her presentation, Ms McMillan will delve into the many themes of her latest book, It’s Not All Downhill From Here and share her own personal journey through challenges, relationships, addiction and health issues. With a characteristic sass and disarming authenticity, she connects with audiences through powerful storytelling and a constant credo: it’s never too late to become the person you want to be.
- Music (NOT) in the Stacks: Hey, Marco!
“Premiere Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Virtual event | GRPL’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Hey Marco is a jazz/pop ensemble from Grand Rapids that specializes in weaving intricate rhythms, melodies and harmonies with haunting vocals. Musical influences such as Sting, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, D’Angelo, The Clark Sisters and Motown were brought together in an exciting and original mix on Hey Marco’s 2014 album Give Love.”
- An evening with author Nikki Grimes on Thursday, February 17, 2022 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This event is virtual and takes place via zoom. Registration required.
“Join us for a virtual author tour with award-winning author Nikki Grimes, who will talk about her book Glory in the Margins, followed by a Q&A session.
New York Times bestselling author Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2020 ALAN Award for Outstanding Contributions to Young Adult Literature, the 2017 Legacy of Children’s Literature Award, the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and the 2006 NCTE for Excellence in Children’s Poetry. His distinguished works include the highly honored books Garvey’s Choice, ALA Notable book Southwest Sunrise, Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade and five Coretta Scott King Author Honor books, Printz and Siebert Honor winner Ordinary Hazards, Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor One Last Word , its companion Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance, and NYT Bestseller Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice. Creator of popular Meet Danitra Brown, Make Way for Dymonde Daniel, Bedtime for Sweet Creatures and Off to See the Sea, Ms. Grimes lives in Corona, California.
- Taste of Soul Sunday Premiering February 20, 2022, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. This is a virtual event that can be viewed on the Facebook page and Youtube channel
“We’re bringing our popular Taste of Soul Sunday event online! Enjoy a series of free virtual events showcasing members of our community.
- The History of the Grand Rapids African-American Museum and Archives. Premiere on Sunday, February 20, 2022, from 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
“Join us for a virtual conversation with George Bayard, founder of the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives (GRAAMA), about the history of the museum and its ongoing work in preserving African American history in Grand Rapids. Bayard has worked extensively in the Grand Rapids community as a business owner and curator. An archival exhibit designed by GRAAMA will be available for viewing at the Grand Rapids Public Library branch throughout February.
- Cooking with Dad Pete’s BBQ
“Premieres Sunday, February 20, 2022, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. This virtual event can be viewed on the library’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. See how one of Grand Rapids’ top-rated black-owned barbecue restaurants keeps customers coming back for more with this immersive cooking session. Participants in the virtual program will earn a free Daddy Pete’s BBQ Buy One, Get One offer valid through February 27, 2022.”
- The Storytellers Premiere Sunday, February 20, 2022, 2:00-2:30 p.m.
“This is a virtual event that can be viewed on the library’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Join The Storytellers for a dynamic virtual experience blending stories, music, humor and music. Enjoy lively Brazilian melodies, familiar American songs, Caribbean music, Australian didgeridoo tunes, West African rhythms, original compositions and much more! This event is designed for all ages.
Rachel Ferguson, from Concordia University in Chicago, will present “The Liberation of Blacks through the Market” Monday, February 7 at 7 p.m. at Hope College in the Winants Auditorium at Graves Hall.
The event is free and open to the public. In addition to the in-person event, the presentation will be streamed live at hope.edu/live and via Hope College’s YouTube channel. “Ferguson is co-author, with Marcus M. Witcher, of the book ‘Black Liberation Through the Marketplace: Hope, Heartbreak, and the Promise of America,’ due out in May,” according to Hope.
To celebrate Black History Month, Hope’s Black Student Union is working with the staff of the Kruizenga Art Museum and has organized a special exhibition, “Black History Month: Honoring Past and Present Experiences.”
The exhibit features artwork commemorating historical and contemporary black leaders and heroes who fought for equality and justice, and who continue that fight today, according to a press release from Hope. The exhibition opened on January 14 and will continue until Saturday February 26.
Admission is free to the Kruizenga Art Museum, located at 271 Columbia Ave. Public visiting hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To celebrate Black History Month, the Hope College Black Student Union is working with the staff of the Kruizenga Art Museum and has organized a special exhibition called ‘Black History Month: Honoring Experience from Past and Present’.
The exhibit features artwork commemorating historical and contemporary black leaders and heroes who fought for equality and justice, and who continue that fight today, according to a press release from Hope. The exhibition opened on January 14 and will run until Saturday February 26.
Admission is free to the Kruizenga Art Museum, located at 271 Columbia Ave. Public visiting hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives (GRAAMA)
The Museum and Archives, 87 Monroe Center St. NW, hosts or participates in the following events:
February 1-28: Grand Rapids Public Library’s “In Every War” Military Exhibit Downtown
February 1 to 15 GRAAMA exhibition “Noel Webley II: A Reflective View”
February 4 GRAAMA Rosa Parks Birthday Display
February 5 GRAAMA Roohee Marshall Book Signing “A Generation Found” We Are Lit Books
February 12 GRAAMA Skot Welch Plantation Jesus Book Signing We Are Lit Books
February 11-14 GRAAMA Ice Sculpture “Do the Right Thing”
February 15 Grand Rapids Art Museum 1:45 p.m. lecture by George Bayard
February 19 GRAAMA Mike Logan Popup Comedy Show
February 22-March 19 GRAAMA Exhibition “The Incredible Cells of Henrietta Lacks”
February 24 UICA GRAAMA exhibition on George Stinney
February 28-April. 20 Grand Rapids Museum of Art “Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue”
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