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Black History Month in Grand Rapids

Each February, Grand Rapids celebrates Black History Month with a series of special activities and events exploring the local African American experience. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the ways African Americans have helped shape the past and present of Grand Rapids – and how African American culture is helping move the city forward in exciting new ways.

Check back for more events as February draws closer.

History Comes Alive

Visit the Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives to explore a treasure trove of material honoring the lives, history, culture and art of local African Americans.

Stroll downtown to see bronze sculptures commemorating former Grand Rapids Mayor Lyman Parks, civil rights icon Rosa Parks and Helen Claytor, the first African American president of both the Grand Rapids YWCA and national YWCA.

Embark on a free, self-guided tour of significant local sites – download informational podcasts to accompany you on the Black History Tour of Downtown and the Grand Rapids Civil Rights Tour.

Engage Grand Rapids Running Tours for an African American History on the Grand experience – you’ll burn calories while you learn about the local African American population from 1826 to present.

Join the Black History Walking Tour of downtown Grand Rapids, starting at noon at Rosa Parks Circle on Feb. 1, 8 & 15.

Learn, Take Action, Celebrate

Grand Valley State University presents a variety of discussions and events at its Allendale campus:

  • Our Roots Run Deep, Feb. 5.
  • The Fight is Not Over – HIV/AIDS Awareness, Feb. 7.
  • Celebration of Gospel – a musical tribute, Feb. 10.
  • Talk Back Tuesday – conversation on domestic violence and sexual assault against African-American women and girls, Feb. 11.
  • Afro-Latinx Identity and the African Diaspora, Feb. 11.
  • Positive Black Women Celebration of Black Arts, Feb. 14.
  • Conversations of Color, Feb. 19.
  • Taste of Soul, Feb. 20.

Drop by the Grand Rapids Public Library for information and entertainment:

  • Black Family History Workshops (Feb. 8, 15 & 22) teach you how to investigate and document your family history.
  • Taste of Soul Sunday (Feb. 16) invites you to sample African American art, music, literature, history and food.

Attend the 13th Annual Grand Rapids Legacy Luncheon, a celebration of African American scholarships and funding for local nonprofits. Feb. 25.

See Yourself in Art

See Hamilton, the smash-hit Broadway musical that interprets the founding of our country through an African American musical idiom. Jan. 21-Feb. 9.

Visit Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum to explore The Continual Struggle, an exhibit depicting the pain, sacrifice and emotion of those who fought for freedom during the civil rights movement. Starts Feb. 20.

Visit the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts to see Beautiful Struggle: Black Feminist Futurism, an interdisciplinary art exhibition exploring the integration of Black feminist and Afrofuturist ideas. Starts Feb. 21.

Entertaining Ideas

Laugh yourself silly at Comedy Night featuring nationally acclaimed comedian Michael Jr. – it’s a family-friendly benefit for New Creations Prison Ministries. Feb. 1.

Treat your ears to a mix of gospel, contemporary, spirituals, anthems, jazz and other music genres at Praize Night featuring the Calvin College Gospel Choir. Feb. 15.

Head to Creston Brewery for Back in Black: A Black History Month Celebration, a fantabulous drag-show benefit for Detroit’s Ruth Ellis Center, which serves the needs of at-risk LBGTQ youth. Feb. 22.

Attend Staff Notes GR: Black History Concert to hear 20 voices lifted in a song at downtown’s intimate new Listening Room venue. Feb. 25

Join the Grand Rapids Symphony and special guest jazz trumpet great Terence Blanchard for Symphony with Soul, an annual celebration of African American musical expression. Feb. 29.

Check out these African American performers at area nightclubs:

  • 20 Monroe Live presents Colors Worldwide (Feb. 1), Bone Thugs-n-Harmony (Feb. 8), Trippie Redd (Feb. 9) and G Herbo (Feb. 19).
  • Billy’s Lounge hosts The Bob Marley Birthday Bash (Feb. 1), R&B funk band Par-llo Connection (Feb. 7) and neo-funk-rock-R&B soul group Dalmation Stone (Feb. 8).
  • Jacquees – King of R&B Tour (Feb. 8), Robert Randolph & The Family Band (Feb. 11) and Lil TJay – Tre 2 Myself Tour (Feb. 22) appear at The Intersection.
  • Fatoumata Diawara, “a standard-bearer of modern African music,” comes to Listening Room Grand Rapids for two shows (Feb. 27).

Fantastic Food

Treat yourself to delectable delights at these African American-owned and influenced eateries:

Check Out These Black-Owned Restaurants in Grand Rapids

Celebrating Grand Rapids means celebrating the people, traditions, cultures, and of course, food! This post was initially published in 2018 commemorating Black History Month. We've updated this list…

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Explore our complete list of Black History Month Events

    Please note that while every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the events listed, we recommend contacting the event and/or location directly to confirm the details. Special events may require tickets that need to be purchased in advance. Please direct questions to event organizers.
    Did we miss an event? Please submit it to our Calendar of Events to be included!