28 Days of Blackness

Your guide to Black History Month events in and around Detroit.

The shortest month of the year is also the most enlightening – invariably, the blackest of them all. Black History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements, the pathos, the electrifying embodiment that is African-American existence (because our reach is possibly, immeasurable). We all need cultural engagement to know more about who we are, why we are, where we’ve been and where the future’s taking us. That’s what we’re really celebrating: our journey together. Here, you’ll find a variety of Black History Month events and programming to keep you busy and woke.

Couples Game Night

Feb. 8, 7-9 p.m.

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Southfield Pavilion, 26000 Evergreen Road, Southfield

Get an early start on the Valentine’s celebrating with a Couples Game Night on Friday, Feb. 8. It’s a twist on the usual game night, celebrating Black History Month with Black History Trivia hosted by local comedian Courtney Springer. There will be music and dancing with DJ DeezyD, plus retro games and more for couples ages 18 and up, including a cash bar.

Friday Night Live! Marion Hayden and Alvin Waddles perform live scores for Silent Films by Pioneers of African-American Cinema

Feb. 15, 7 p.m.

Detroit Institute of Arts – Rivera Court, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Free with general admission (free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties)

Having purchased a Cine-Kodak kit, which included a Cine-Kodak camera, 16mm film and a projector, Reverend Solomon Sir Jones was able to produce and exhibit films documenting African-American life in mid-1920s Oklahoma. “These films,” according to the DIA, “capture a cross-section of black society, including children, deacons, young professionals, homemakers, businessmen, community leaders, landowners, field workers, students and neighbors. These films are presented with a live, original score by pianist Alvin Waddles and bassist Marion Hayden.”

Book talk: Crystal Fleming on How to Be Less Stupid about Race

Feb. 18, 6:45 p.m.

U of D Mercy, Student Union Ballroom, 4001 W. McNichols Road, Detroit

Crystal Fleming, associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at SUNY-Stony Brook, will discuss her new book, which blends memoir, satire and critical race theory “to debunk common misconceptions about racism.” Fleming is a leading public intellectual on race matters in the United States. A book signing will follow the talk.

Documentary and Discussion: “Racial Violence in America”

Feb. 19, 4 p.m.

U of D Mercy, Student Union Ballroom, 4001 W. McNichols Road, Detroit

America has a long history of racial violence. This event will include a showing of “An Outrage,” an award-winning documentary on racial lynching, followed by a conversation with Wayne State University associate professor of history Kidada Williams. Williams is a nationally-recognized authority on the history of racial violence in America. This event is co-sponsored by the Black Abolitionist Archive and the Honors Program.

Motown Sound on Wheels book signing

Feb. 20, 5:30-9:30 p.m.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Ave, Detroit

Rockin‘ Richard Houston (who was featured in BLAC’s September 2017 issue), known as “The Godfather of Skating,” finally releases his highly-anticipated book, Motown Sound on Wheels, which chronicles Detroit’s place in roller skating lore. He recounts a life of growing up on the streets of Detroit to becoming an international roller skating act. And, of course, for this book signing event, Rockin‘ Richard is planning on giving attendees a roller skating show. No one rocks a floor quite like him.

American Black Journal 50th Anniversary Celebration

Feb. 21, 7 p.m.

Garden Theater Detroit, 3939 Woodward Ave., Detroit

$10

American Black Journal is going “all-out” for its 50th anniversary celebration and you’re invited. First launched on Detroit Public TV after the civil disturbance of 1967, it remains a reliable, respectful forum for thought, culture and politics from an African-American perspective making it the longest running public affairs show “on any public broadcasting station and the longest running public affairs show on any local television station.” The evening will feature Christy Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia, in conversation with American Black Journal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning host, Stephen Henderson, as well as other guests. Expect music, dance and spoken word performances.

Discussion: Benjamin Saulsberry on Racial Reconciliation

Feb. 25, 1 p.m.

U of D Mercy, College of Health Professions Facility, Room 124, 4001 W. McNichols Road, Detroit

Benjamin Saulsberry of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner, Mississippi, will discuss what his community is doing to promote racial reconciliation at the site of one of the most tragic racial killings in American history. The Till tragedy in 1955 helped spark the civil rights movement. What the city of Sumner is doing may provide a model for racial reconciliation in other communities. This event is sponsored by African-American Studies (through the Thomas and Karen Waters Fund).

Images of Black Detroit: From the Collections of Orlin Jones and Clyde Hopkins

Open through March 3

Detroit Historical Society, 5401 Woodward, Detroit

Orlin Jones and Clyde Hopkins have spent their lives collecting, preserving and sharing Detroit’s rich African-American history. Over the past 50 years, they also have amassed one of the most comprehensive collections of photographs of black Detroit from the early to mid-20th century. These images depict black Detroiters‘ homes, businesses and recreational endeavors. While there is not a uniting theme, they all reflect a successful, proud and hard-working community that thrived during a time when African-Americans faced open and hostile discrimination from the city’s white majority. Most of the sites featured in these images are long gone, torn down for urban renewal projects throughout the second half of the 20th and early 21st centuries.

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