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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.

Note: A number of this year’s events have gone virtual due to COVID-19 precautions. Log on and enjoy!

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.

Take a Black History Walking Tour of downtown Grand Rapids offered free as part of the World of Winter Festival. A tour guide will highlight significant African American people, places, events, issues, legends and facts. Feb. 4, 7, 20 & 21.

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum hosts two virtual programs:

You can also get a glimpse of the Ford exhibit, “The Continual Struggle: The American Freedom Movement and the Seeds of Change,” on video.

Rhythm in Black: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow – A Virtual Black History Month Celebration invites you to interact with speakers from the local community, enjoy performances from local artists and musicians, and be immersed in the Black experience. Feb. 5.

Online Black History for Children is a live, interactive presentation that takes families on a fascinating journey into Black history, led by two child superheroes. Feb. 6.

See Yourself in Art

ArtXchangeGR Presents Our Grand Celebration of LOVE.ART.History Exhibit, featuring artwork from Grand Rapids artists exploring  themes of love, Black culture and Black identity. A free event at Woodland Mall, Feb. 12-14.

The Black History Paint Night is a virtual class providing step-by-step instruction on creating a beautiful canvas painting that celebrates giants in Africa American history. Feb. 4 & 19.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum presents Windows GR, an exhibit of three large-scale plywood art pieces created by local artists of color in response to the death of George Floyd, police brutality and systemic racism.

The Exhibit: Virtual Black Artist Showcase gives you the opportunity to network virtually with Black artists, musicians and makers. The two-hour event also includes a virtual open-mic. Feb. 10.

Musical Expressions

Sounds of Blackness is an online soulful yoga class set to a curated set list of gospel, jazz and rhythm & blues from the African diaspora. Feb. 19.

St. Cecilia presents renowned jazz bassists Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer live in concert. The two will perform separately, then join together for a conversation. Feb. 25.

Fantastic Food & Drink

Treat yourself to some delectable delights at one (or more) of the area’s Black-owned restaurants.

Take a virtual cooking class – the Black History Month Dinner series from Seward Community Co-op offers online instruction in preparing:

Treat yourself to a beer from Black Calder Brewing, Michigan’s first black-owned brewery, which has just started offering its creations through Broad Leaf Local Beer.

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!