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Seven ways to commemorate Black History Month in Ann Arbor

Throughout February, learn about history, art and music

Watch Carrie Mae Weem's performance "Past Tense" on Feb. 14. Photo | Penny Stamps School of Art & Design

ANN ARBOR, Mich.Officially started in the 1970s, Black History Month has been a chance to celebrate the contributions of those who have been historically ignored or under-appreciated.

If you’re not sure how to participate productively, let us help. Throughout the month of February, Ann Arbor will be full of events commemorating local history, nationally-known artists, musicians and thinkers.

Here are seven thought-provoking and fun events to get you started. 

Ann Arbor District Library

I Am Making History
Feb. 5 - 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. - Downtown branch

Poets and performers from Ann Arbor’s Neutral Zone, like Sam Martin (who you know from his powerful TedxYouthAnnArbor talk), will not only showcase their talents but also the importance of having a voice in the community.

Throughout February AADL will have many events honoring Black History Month. Photo | Ann Arbor District Library

Black History | Local History
Feb. 9 - 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.  - Westgate branch

Listen and watch locals from Washtenaw County talk about their experiences in the Living Oral History project by AADL. Residents from Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti discuss their experiences on topics like faith, education, race and how they related to the African-African community.

Critical Reception | A Black History Month Panel Discussion
Feb. 17 - 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. - Downtown branch

Join Jamall Bufford, Heather Neff, Rochelle Riley and Jessica Thompson as they discuss Black History Month, its historical importance and its continuing influence within the U.S.

To see more Black History Month events at AADL, check out the full schedule.


Juliana Huxtable Performance
Feb 6 - 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. - Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre

Listen to the multi-talented Juliana Huxtable as she demonstrates the intersectionality of design, music, art, power and the body. Huxtable’s dynamic performance is the first performance to be commissioned by the U-M’s School of Social Work in 20 years and is done in collaboration with Joe Heffernan, Ahya Simone and Michael Potvin.

This performance is free and open to the public. However, it is recommended to reserve seats ahead of time as Huxtable's performances always draw large crowds.

See Juliana Huxtable perform on Feb. 6 followed by her Penny Stamps presentation Feb. 7. Photo | Juri-Hiensch

Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series | Juliana Huxtable: POST  
Feb. 7 - 5:10 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. - Michigan Theater

If you don’t manage to snag a seat for Huxtable’s performance, the following evening she will speak to audiences as a Penny Stamps Speaker. Drawing from her experiences as transgender and African-American, Huxtable’s art is infused with truth, reflection, societal norms, and political issues.

Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series: Carrie Mae Weems: A History of Violence, Heave
Feb. 14 - 5:10 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. - Michigan Theater

Join renowned photographer Carrie Maw Weems as she presents her new performance-based artwork, Past Tense. Weems has won numerous awards for her photography and art which tackles sexism, classism, racism, cultural identity, family dynamics and power. Weems' comprehensive art is what has made her one of the most influential contemporary photographers and artists in the United States.

As always, Penny Stamps Speaker events and UMMA artists performances are free and open to the public.

Wild Swan Theater

Under the African Sky
Feb. 21 to Feb. 23 - Various times - WCC Towsley Auditorium

Wild Swan Theater will present four shows of Under the African Sky, a collection of fun tales taking place in Africa. This child-friendly performance is full of colors, music, drumming and drama, and gives audiences a taste of delightful storytelling.

Tickets for the four performances range from $10 to $15 and can be bought online through the Wild Swan Theater website.

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