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 “African Americans and the Arts.” You can learn more about Black artists and their work on the National Gallery of Art’s website or by visiting the Portland Art Museum to see works by local Black artists through March 17.
There are also many exciting events happening in the greater Portland area throughout the month. Here are a few of the highlights. Please note LifeWorks NW is not sponsoring or hosting these events, and some may be hosted at venues that serve alcohol. We encourage any community members currently in recovery to use their best judgement before attending.
Multnomah County Libraries: Throughout the month, our local libraries will be hosting family-friendly events focused on Black history, art, and culture! You can view a full list of events on their website.
Tomorrow Theater: This theater run by the Portland Art Museum will be featuring several films by Black filmmakers throughout February. If you’re interested in seeing them, purchase your tickets quickly because the shows may sell out.
Cascade Festival of African Films (Feb 2-Mar 2): This event, hosted by Portland Community College, is free and open to the public. The festival will feature over 20 films exploring African stories and culture. Visit their website for more information on each film and details on how to attend. Some films will be available to stream online for those who cannot attend in person.
Remembering Rosa Parks (Feb 4): The nonprofit Elevate Unity is hosting an event at Alberta Abbey to celebrate the life of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, including music, food, and discussion.
Afrofutures: Designing The Black Aesthetic (Feb 10): This event for high school age youth will discuss Black inventors, city planning, architecture and more, culminating in a design challenge (with prizes!) for participants. This workshop is free for high school students.
NW Black Comedy Festival (Feb 15-18): This weekend-long festival features 10 comedy showcases, two live podcasts, and over sixty Black comics from around the world. Visit their website to learn more about individual shows and purchase tickets.
Rites of Passage (Feb 16-25): This performance by Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre will include an evening of dance drawing from contemporary, Diasporic, and West African dance traditions.
Rose City Blues Festival (Feb 23-25): This 3-day festival includes live music, dance instruction, and themed dance events throughout the weekend. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination and a negative rapid test the day of the event is required for attendance.