Metro Detroit Black History Month exhibits, performances, lectures and more

Erica Hobbs
Special to The Detroit News

Those looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month will find no shortage of options in Metro Detroit. Many of the area’s largest museums, and the city of Southfield, are offering a series of events and activities, including exhibits, lectures, performances, films and more.

Highlights include the kick-off event for “Southfield Celebrates Black History Month,” featuring the award-winning Black History 101 Mobile Museum, as well as performances, tutorials and vendors ahead of a month of activities in the city. The Henry Ford Museum’s new “Quiet & Loud Protest” pop-up exhibit showcases how artist-activists have used graphics to change their communities. 

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is also offering several performances and lectures at its Detroit Film Theatre (DFT), and both the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the City Institute are offering a series of online exhibits and tours. See the full calendar below.

Now through Feb. 28: Walk Through History Display, Southfield Municipal Campus Front Lawn

Southfield’s free outdoor Walk Through History display features informational signs describing some well-known and lesser known influential African Americans throughout Southfield and world history. The city is also offering Black History Month activity bags containing activity sheets, stickers, themed coloring sheets, crayons, crafts and more for $5 each, available online or by calling (248) 796-4620. Visit  www.cityofsouthfield.com/departments/parks-recreation

Now through Feb. 28: Youth Speaks at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American, Online Event

The Wright museum is offering a weekly program that highlights the voices of young people through performing and visual arts. Every Friday, the museum will share videos of participants bringing focus to themes like history, justice, equality and Afrofuturism. For details visit www.thewright.org

Now through March 31: “Quiet & Loud Protest” Pop-Up Exhibit, Henry Ford Museum

The Henry Ford Museum is showcasing new acquisitions showing quiet and loud ways that artist-activists have used graphics to demand change and organize communities, featuring Amos Kennedy Jr., Angela Davis and Corita Kent. The museum also features the “With Liberty and Justice for All” exhibit, including the Rosa Parks bus, the self-guided “Stories of Black Empowerment” tour and additional activities. Museum admission is $20.25 - $27. For more information, visit www.thehenryford.org

Thursdays, Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24, noon – 1 p.m. and 4 – 5 p.m.: Glimpses from “And Still We Rise,” Online Event

Explore the Wright museum’s “And Still We Rise” exhibit in-depth with a virtual weekly series that breaks down the 22,000 square-foot exhibition into sections. The long-term exhibit offers a comprehensive look at the history of African-American resilience. Weekly sessions include: Feb. 3 – Ancient Africa, Feb. 10 – The Transatlantic Slave Trade, Feb. 17 – Resilience and Resistance: Africans in America and Feb. 24 – Emancipation and the Great Migration. For more information, visit www.thewright.org

Feb. 4, 5 - 9 p.m.: "The Work of Our Hands: Black Women as Cornerstone of Culture":

Curated by Kresge Artist Fellow Carl Wilson, this exhibit shares the experiences of Black women. Participating artists include Robbie Best, Tyanna Buie, Cydney Camp, Rita Dickerson, Donna Jackson, Carole Morisseau, Sabrina Nelson, Yvette Rock and Mandisa Smith. Detroit Club, 217 Farnsworth St., Detroit. The exhibit runs through Feb. 26. 

Feb. 4, 7 p.m.: Conversations on X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, DFT at the DIA

Ahead of Michigan Opera Theatre’s spring production of “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis and lyricist Thulani Davis will appear live to discuss the opera and perform selections of the score with cast members. The event is free, but pre-registration is required. For more information, visit www.dia.org

Feb. 5, 4 – 9 p.m.: “Southfield Celebrates Black History Month” Kickoff Event, Southfield Pavilion

The city of Southfield is celebrating the beginning of a month-long series of Black History Month activities. The free event features the Black History 101 Mobile Museum – an award-winning collection of more than 7,000 original artifacts of Black memorabilia – a lecture by its founder Dr. Khalid el-Hakim and a Black-owned Business Marketplace. It also includes a hair wrap tutorial, performances and music. Visit www.cityofsouthfield.com/departments/parks-recreation

Thursday, Feb. 10, 6 – 7 p.m.: Black History Along Detroit’s Riverfront, virtual tour

The City Institute is offering an online tour about Detroit’s historical Black leaders and innovators in relationship to the Detroit Riverfront and its role in the Underground Railroad. The event is free with donations optional. Visit www.thecityinstitute.com

Saturday, Feb. 12, 2 p.m.: Detroit Youth Choir, DFT at the DIA 

The Detroit Youth Choir will perform Feb. 12 at the DIA.

The Detroit Youth Choir will sing joyous songs and dance. The large choir of 8-18-year-olds made headlines in 2019 when they won second-place on "America’s Got Talent." Event is free, but pre-registration is required. For more information, visit www.dia.org

Saturday, Feb. 12, 7 – 10 p.m.: Conversations & Cocktails, Southfield Pavilion

Conversations & Cocktails acknowledges and celebrates the contributions of African Americans to society and the world. It will feature some of metro Detroit’s most notable spoken word poets and musicians performing R&B and soul music. General admission tickets are $10 and available for purchase online or at the Southfield Parks & Recreation Building. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Visit www.cityofsouthfield.com/departments/parks-recreation

Thursday, Feb. 17, 6 – 7 p.m.: “Redlining, Racism, and Segregation,” virtual tour

The City Institute’s “Redlining, Racism, and Segregation” virtual tour provides an overview of some of Detroit’s most devastating policies and events for people of color throughout history and their continuing impact today. Tour discussion points include the Ossian Sweet House, Birwood Wall, Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, redlining and restrictive covenants, and the uprising of 1967. Tickets are donation-based. For more information, visit www.thecityinstitute.com

Friday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m.: Mollywop! Performance, DFT at the DIA

"Mollywop! will perform Feb. 18 at the DIA.

The Detroit-based funk, soul, jazz and R&B collective Mollywop! performs their signature style that mixes musical genres with danced rhythms and grassroot visions. Event is free, but pre-registration is required. For more information, visit www.dia.org

Friday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m.: “The Black Godfather” Screening, Southfield Pavilion

The city of Southfield will show the 2019 documentary “The Black Godfather” for Black History Month Movie Night. The film, directed by Reginald Hudlin, follows the life of music executive, entrepreneur and film producer Clarence Avant. Admission is free, refreshments will be available for purchase. Note: The film is rated TV-MA for violent images, profanity and brief nudity. Visit www.cityofsouthfield.com/departments/parks-recreation.

Saturday, Feb. 19, 12:30 – 5 p.m.: Detroit Book City African-American Family Book Expo, Detroit Book City

This sixth annual expo features book discussions, kids’ activities, meet-and-greets with Black authors and more. Admission is free but registration is required. For more information, visit www.detroitbookcity.com

Wednesday, Feb. 23, 6 p.m.: Talking about Art with Shirley Woodson, DFT at the DIA

Artist Shirley Woodson poses at her art studio in Detroit.

Acclaimed Detroit artist and educator, Shirley Woodson, and DIA Head Curator of the Center for African American Art, Valerie J. Mercer, will discuss the current exhibition “Shirley Woodson: Shield of the Nile Reflections.” The two will discuss how the artist prepared for her art career as well as her style and perspective on contemporary art. Event is free. Visit www.dia.org

Thursday, Feb. 24, 6 – 7:30 p.m.: Black History by Those That Lived, virtual tour

Lifelong Detroiters Glen Hendricks and Michael Daniels will share their 70+ years of experiences and personal stories that are woven into the larger history of Detroit. The online tour will include stories on coming to Detroit during the Great Migration, growing up in Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, the impact of former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young’s election, longtime Black businesses and being a Detroit entrepreneur in the 1980s. Tickets are donation-based. For more information, visit www.thecityinstitute.com

Friday, Feb. 25, 6 – 9 p.m.: The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers, Southfield Pavilion

Guests will enjoy live storytelling from the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers with a performance of “Cancel Culture.” The show runs from 7 – 9 p.m., preceded by a meet and greet with performers. Tickets are $10 per person and are available for purchase in at the Southfield Parks & Recreation information desk or online and must be purchased in advance. Visit www.cityofsouthfield.com/departments/parks-recreation.

Saturday, Feb. 26, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.: “On the Shoulders of Giants,” Detroit Historical Museum

DHS - BHM: "The Detroit Historical Society's "On the Shoulders of Giants" event Feb. 26 honors the legacy of entrepreneurship in Detroit's Black community.

“On the Shoulders of Giants” honors the legacy of entrepreneurship in Detroit’s Black community. The event will highlight some of the businesses and history-makers that continue to impact the city and will include a marketplace of locally owned businesses and children's crafts. Visitors are also encouraged to tour the museum’s permanent exhibitions, “Doorway to Freedom” and “Detroit 67: Perspectives.” Admission is free with registration. Visit www.detroithistorical.org

Sunday, Feb. 27, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Black Art Library, Kresge Court at the DIA

Visitors are encouraged to explore the worlds of Black visual artists with the collection of Asmaa Walton’s Black Art Library. The collection includes artist monographs, exhibition catalogs, children’s books, artist memoirs, artist biographies, art history texts, and other art-related ephemera. Event is free. For more information, visit www.dia.org