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.
History Comes Alive
Visit the newly opened Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives, which is filled with artifacts, recordings and oral histories that provide a rich and diverse perspective on the lives 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 the national YWCA.
Learn, Take Action, Celebrate
Get together and share ideas with movers and shakers in the local African American community while enjoying live jazz and delicious cuisine, the first Friday of every month at Linc Up. Feb. 2.
Congratulate the local African American leaders who have been honored with 2018 Giants Awards from Grand Rapids Community College. The Feb. 3 awards program is sold out, but you can read about the honorees here. One of these individuals will be named the Giant Among Giants at the ceremony.
Choose from an incredible lineup of Black History Month events at Grand Valley State University:
- Celebration of Black Arts, Feb. 3.
- Black Activism Through Sports, Feb. 6.
- Body Image and Blackness, Feb. 9.
- Positive Black Woman Luncheon, Feb. 14.
- A Taste of Soul, Feb. 16.
- Voter Registration Drive, Feb. 16.
- Accidental Courtesy, Feb. 20.
- Conversations of Color, Feb. 21.
- Racial Battle Fatigue Syndrome, Feb. 27.
Explore African American culture and confront community challenges at the Grand Rapids Public Library:
- Black Family History is a series of workshops designed to help African Americans research their family’s history. Feb. 3, 10, 17 & 24.
- Taste of Soul Sunday includes art, music, literature, history and food. Feb. 18
- Speak Up GR: Individual Rights and Community Policing is a vital panel discussion. Feb. 20.
Honor diversity at the Grand Rapids Public Museum Ethnic Heritage Festival, a daylong celebration of music, dance, crafts and food representing the various ethnic groups that call West Michigan home. Feb. 3.
Join criminal justice reformer, attorney and filmmaker Dawn Porter as she explores “Defending America in the Age of Mass Incarceration” – part of the Diversity Lecture Series at Grand Rapids Community College. Feb. 21.
Don your finest attire for the 2018 Grand Rapids Legacy Luncheon, which celebrates Black History month while raising money for local student scholarships. At the Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton on Feb. 26.
Let the Music Move You
Head to The Pyramid Scheme for performances by Bamfomania with Razz Na$-T, Shamar Alef and Kayo Kane (Feb. 2) and lyricist/poet/MC Talib Kweli (Feb. 17).
Drop by Billy’s Lounge for three great shows: The Bob Marley Birthday Bash 2018 on Feb. 3; Lady Ace Boogie, JRob and Bedrock, Callab, Ajax Stacks, Flexadecibel and DJ Dean Martian on Feb. 10; and Asamu Johnson and the Associates of the Blues on Feb. 16.
Bring the kids to Four Score and Seven Years Ago – an exciting and suspenseful children’s musical about a young man who escapes slavery and befriends a Confederate soldier. At East Kentwood Fine Arts Center Feb. 6.
Enjoy the smooth sounds of GRAMMY Award-winning jazz vocalist Gregory Porter at St. Cecilia Music Center Feb. 22.
See rappers G Herbo and Lil Bibby at The Intersection Feb. 23.
Take a musical journey through the life of legendary songstress Ella Fitzgerald at Symphony of Soul’s Ella, a Tribute. Feb. 24.
See Yourself in Art
Visit Grand Rapids Art Museum to view Carl Wilson: Her Purse Smelled Like Juicy Fruit and Other Tales – a striking exhibition by an African American artist born and raised in Detroit. Through Feb. 11.
Learn about the lifelong friendship between two men of different races – Gerald Ford and his college football teammate Willis Ward – in Victors of Character: A Story of Loyalty, Integrity, a theatrical production at Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum Feb. 15.
Watch Black Panther, the blockbuster film about an African King turned superhero, on the really, really big screen at Celebration! Cinema North & IMAX Theatre. Opens Feb. 16.
Get inspired by the way faith can help us get through troubled times – see the hilarious play Ain’t Nothing Like a Family. At Wealthy Theatre Feb. 24.
Head to The Candied Yam for delicious soul food recipes that are rich in heritage and prepared with fresh, authentic ingredients.
Stop by Daddy Pete’s BBQ To Go restaurant or catch its food truck to partake of some delicious, Southern, slow-smoked meats served with a sweet, homemade, finger-lickin’ BBQ sauce.
Celebrating history means celebrating the people, traditions, cultures, and of course, food! We are commemorating Black History Month by featuring Grand Rapids’ black food culture and by shining a…Learn More ›