Every February, the United States observes Black History Month. This is a time to honor the tireless work of civil rights activists and remember the injustices of the past so we do not repeat them. While members of the African-American community have pushed for formal recognition of their history since the 1920s, the US government first officially commemorated this month in 1976 under President Gerald R. Ford.
This year’s theme is “Resistance.” Learn more about this important aspect of Black history and participate in online events through the official Library of Congress website.
If you’re in Portland, there are also many exciting events happening throughout the month. Here are a few of the highlights:
Word Is Bond “In My Shoes” Walking Tours (Feb 4-25): Every weekend this month, young Black men from Portland will give walking tours of their neighborhoods. These tours will highlight their personal stories, as well as the history of the neighborhood. Learn more about race, class, community investment, gentrification, community safety and equity from those most affected by the issues.
Rose City Blues Festival (Feb 10-12): This event by the Portland Jazz and Blues Society is back again after a long pause due to the pandemic! The 3-day festival includes live music from 5 bands, 15 hours of social dance, and 10 hours of workshops. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination and a negative rapid test the day of the event is required for attendance.
Black History Festival Northwest Flash Mob Dance (Feb 11): Celebrate local Black history during the Portland Winter Lights Festival! Participants will learn a dance created by three local Black women choreographers in the South Park Blocks.
Black Love Day Comedy Show & Fundraiser (Feb 11): For the sixth year in a row, the Black Love Day fundraiser will celebrate the talents of local African-American comedians while supporting the efforts of the local aid organization Black Community of Portland. There will also be a catered dinner and a silent auction of work by local artists.
SCRAP PDX Black History Month “Story Quilt” Collage Crafternoon (Feb 26): Drawing inspiration from Harlem-born artist Faith Ringgold, SCRAP is hosting a crafting event where participants are invited to use recycled materials to explore themes of identity, memory and history. Visit the link for examples of Ringgold’s incredible work exploring Black art and history.