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The 5 Ws of Black History Month

by Victoria Reid    February 1, 2021

Learn why and how to celebrate around Downtown

February 2021 marks the 95th anniversary of Black History Month. For nearly 100 years, this month has been dedicated to praising the successes of Black Americans. Wondering why to celebrate and how? We’re glad you asked!

Originally Negro History Week, Black History Month, was created by Carter G. Woodson — a prominent Harvard-trained, African-American historian who was the son of former slaves — in 1926.

After realizing that “African-American contributions were overlooked, ignored and even suppressed,” Woodson formed what is now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History [ASALH] to encourage the study of the triumphs they’ve made.

In 1926, he and the ASALH officially declared the second week of February “Negro History Week” because the month marks the birthdays of two important men who had a great impact on African Americans in the U.S.  — Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

The week was expanded to a month in 1976, and since then, presidents have proclaimed February as National African American History Month, with each year receiving a theme. This year’s theme, “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” is all about the Black Family and how it has been “stereotyped and vilified from the days of slavery to our own time.” We encourage you to learn more about the subject from the ASALH here.

Although we should always recognize the contributions of the Black community, Black History Month is an opportunity to learn about the importance of the feats made by people of the African diaspora, and think about ways to further support the community.

Buy Black.
Supporting local, black-owned businesses is a great way to not only recognize the achievements of Black Americans, but also support and uplift a community with a long history of oppression.

Craft Burger | 📍712 Main [Finn Hall]
The brainchild of Chopped champion Shannon Tune, Craft Burger offers over-the-top options like truffle butter juicy lucy [our fave!] and morning after burger, as well as scrumptious craft milkshakes and sides.

Day 6 Coffee | 📍910 Prairie
This family owned business serves up everything from coffee classics to sweet treats, and strives to provide a platform for other artists and entrepreneurs in the community.

Tru Essence | 📍1725 Main
A luxury cosmetic and medical spa, Tru Essence seeks to renew self-confidence in men and women by enhancing the qualities that make you who you are.

BLCK Market @ Avenida | 📍1001 Avenida De Las Americas
The popular pop-up expands to Avenida Houston this February to celebrate Black History Month. The socially distanced, outdoor event features over 20 vendors on site, live music and food trucks, and occurs every Saturday from 1 PM to 5 PM.

Visit & Explore.
Who doesn’t love museums?! Not only are they a fun way to spend an afternoon, they also offer an opportunity to learn about the richness and diversity of Black culture.

Bisong Art Gallery | 📍1305 Sterrett
Founded by Carla Bisong in 2013, Bisong Art Gallery is a space to showcase community art that “inspires, uplifts and enriches a person’s life”, while also creating a local platform for artists.
Don’t Miss Exhibit: Black Speculative Art Movement: February 4-5

Collect it for the Culture III | 1201 Fannin [GreenStreet]
Featuring over 30 Texas-based creators selected by artist and curator, Robert Hodge, the third installment of ‘Collect It For The Culture’ showcases both first time exhibitors and accomplished professionals in areas such as sculpture, photography, painting, film and installation. The mission of the series is to highlight the role collectors have in the preservation of culture through their ongoing support of the arts.

Black History Private Tour | 📍1100 Bagby [Sam Houston Park]
Learn about the lives of African Americans in Houston and Texas in the late 19th and early 20th centures with a private tour led by a museum docent. Tour the Kellum-Noble House, the Yates House and the Fourth Ward Cottage, and hear discussions about urban slavery in Houston as well as life after Emancipation in the community known as Freedmen's Town. The tour is offered every Friday at 11:30 AM and 1 PM.

Houston Museum of African American Culture | 📍4807 Caroline
While this museum technically isn’t Downtown, we highly recommend taking the MetroRAIL [red line] for a visit. With the mission to “collect, conserve, explore, interpret and exhibit the material and intellectual culture of Africans and African Americans in Houston, the state of Texas...for current and future generations”, the HMAAC invites visitors of every race and age to engage in discovery-driven learning with them.

Watch & Learn.
Celebrating Black History Month doesn’t have to be done in-person. There are several ways to learn about the history of African Americans and praise their talents online.

Rebirth of a Nation: Saturday, February 6 | 6:30 PM
SPA invites you to watch Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, as he examines D.W. Griffiths infamous silent film, The Birth of a Nation. Using his skills as a music producer/composer, DJ Spooky recontextualizes Griffith’s achievements, placing the original film in a moral framework.

Breaking Boundaries: Available on-demand
In Breaking Boundaries, current and former Company dancers come together for honest and open conversations around the BIPOC experience at Houston Ballet. Each episode explores the individual and collective experiences these dancers have encountered as dancers of colors.

Giving Voice: Available on-demand through February 21, 2021
Part of HGO Digital, Giving Voice: Lawrence Brownlee and Friends Sing Opera, Gospel and Standards, sees the internationally renowned tenor joined by co-host and celebrated soprano, Nicole Heaston, return to the stage for this celebration of black voices.

February or not, recognizing the Black community and their efforts is imperative and super easy to do in our very diverse city. From dining out [safely] to exploring the city, there’s no reason you can’t celebrate all things Black today and everyday!

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