Celebrate Black History Month in Michigan

Did you know that Detroit was one of the most important stops on the Underground Railroad because of its proximity to Canada? That’s just one of the many ways in which Michigan’s past is deeply connected to African American history. And with Black History Month underway, there are plenty of ways for you and your family to learn about the influential figures, rich culture and milestone events that helped shape our state and country’s history. Here are some of the must-see events happening throughout February:

  • Black History Month at the Detroit Institute of Art: Through the month of February many activities are planned for all ages, including tours of the General Motors Center for African American Art galleries, a panel discussion featuring prominent women in the Detroit art community, a tribute to Aretha Franklin with The Motown Legends Gospel Choir and a college Greek Step competition featuring local fraternities and sororities.Programs are free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, unless otherwise noted.
  • Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: Current exhibitions include an exploration of black hair and fashion, the art of Jerome Wright, and a permanent display that takes visitors on a journey through African-American history and culture starting in Africa and crossing time and geography to present-day Detroit.
  • Celebrate Black History at The Henry Ford Museum: The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn celebrates all aspects of black history and culture. Delve into African-American history through interactive presentations, music and food. From the northern migration, and the beginnings of jazz to the civil rights movement and today, explore familiar stories and discover stories new to you.
  • African American History Day at the Detroit Historical Museum: Bring your family to the Detroit Historical Museum for African American History Day on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. This year’s educational and fun activities will focus on neighborhood sports in Detroit. Participate in a drop-in workout class and learn about youth sports programs, like Detroit City Lacrosse and Midnight Golf, and how they affect their neighborhoods during a panel discussion in the afternoon.
  • West Michigan Minstrel Show at Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives: GRAAMA will explore the history of the early 20th century’s minstrel shows, most often performed in mocking blackface makeup by white performers. According to GRAAMA, West Michigan was a haven for such activities and this exhibit will showcase this sad historical chapter. The exhibit runs through Feb. 28 and visitors are warned that images and language could be disturbing to some.
  • Black History Month at Grand Valley State University: A wide range of discussions and presentations will take place throughout the month of February on GVSU’s Allendale campus celebrating the history, culture, traditions and contributions of African Americans.

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Photo credit: mzajac

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