Black History Month at Town Hall

Black History Is American History

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Today is February 1, which marks the beginning of Black History Month. Black History Month was established in 1976, and what you may not know is that there is a theme every year. The theme is decided by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and the 2021 theme is “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” exploring the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States. We have put together a calendar of programs that support this theme, and we’ll also be taking a look back in our Media Library at past events that are worth revisiting this month.

Upcoming

Conversations on our In The Moment podcast will feature Black authors and poets throughout the month. (As a reminder, these episodes are released at 1 PM on Mondays, and available anytime after that.) Historian Thomas C. Holt (2/1) will be talking with correspondent and local journalist Mike Davis, contending with how the civil rights movement has been misrepresented and misunderstood. The next week, Shin Yu Pai welcomes poet Gary Copeland Lilley (2/8) to the February Lyric World episode for a dialogue about the creative and intellectual influences that have shaped his work. And finally, poet and novelist Véronique Tadjo (2/22) discusses her new book, a timely fable drawing on real accounts of the Ebola outbreak, with correspondent Kevin Kibet.

Most of us grew up with images of African women that were purely anthropological-bright displays of exotica where the deeper personhood seemed tucked away. Or were chronicles of war and “poverty porn.” But curator Catherine E. McKinley (2/10) says these images tell a different story of African women: how deeply cosmopolitan and modern they are in their style, how they were able to reclaim the tools of the colonial oppression that threatened their selfhood and livelihoods. She’ll be in conversation with fellow curator and designer Erika Dalya Massaquoi to discuss her takeaways while collecting images in her new book The African Lookbook: A Visual History of 100 Years of African Women.

Black contribution to musical history is undeniable. Renowned bass player, five-time Grammy winner, and author Victor L. Wooten (2/13) invites us to stretch our imaginations and our awareness of our interaction with music in a wholly unique presentation that provides a poignant reminder of the healing power—and humanity—in music.

A tiny, fastidiously-dressed man emerged from Black Philadelphia around the turn of the century to become the mentor to a generation of young artists, including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jacob Lawrence. He coined the term “New Negro” for this generation, a reference to the creative African Americans whose art, literature, music, and drama would inspire Black people to greatness. Have you heard of Alain Locke? Professor Jeffrey Stewart (2/18) brings Locke’s story to the forefront, exploring his legacy and impact in promoting the cultural heritage of Black people with LaNesha DeBardelaben of the Northwest African American Museum for this co-presented program.

Dr. Ronald A Crutcher (2/20), a national leader in higher education and a distinguished classical musician and Professor of Music, joins us to share lessons captured in his memoir I Had No Idea You Were Black: Navigating Race on the Road to Leadership. He relates how he found success as a Black intellectual steering through highly charged social issues, to become President at the University of Richmond.

Have you wondered how educators can help destroy entrenched inequalities and enact values of Black Lives Matter in their classrooms, schools, and communities? Educators and members of the Black Lives Matter at School movement Jesse Hagopian and Denisha Jones (2/24) have gathered essential essays, interviews, poems, resolutions, and more from educators, students, and activists. They join us to lay bare the institutional racism inherent in our educational system, and present a critical call to radically reshape learning environments.

From the Library

1/19/2021: Tyler Stovall with ChrisTiana ObeySumner about the intertwined histories of racism and freedom, specifically using America and France as reference points

12/14/2020: On this episode of In The Moment, sociologist Matthew Clair discussed how race and class matter in criminal court with correspondent Marcus Harrison Green

12/10/2020: The Seattle Human Rights Commission and UW Center for Human Rights hosted a panel about the Black experience in Seattle

12/8/2020: Michael Eric Dyson talked with Robin DiAngelo about reckoning with race on America

11/15/2020: Tamara Payne—along with her mother and brother—talked about the National Book Award-winning biography of Malcolm X, written over decades by her father, which she completed after his unexpected death

11/9/2020: Daudi Abe talked with Geo Quibuyen about the history of hip hop in Seattle

10/21/2020: A panel hosted by Town Hall, Seattle Disabilities Commission, and Seattle LGBTQ+ Commission discussed the unique wisdom of intersectional identities

10/2/2020: On this episode of In The Moment, professor Dr. Eddie Cole was in conversation with correspondent Shaun Scott about the role of campus activism in the fight for social equality

9/22/2020: Mychal Denzel Smith discussed how he believes there are shortcomings in the stories we tell ourselves about our American identity, in conversation with author R. O. Kwon

9/14/2020: This episode of In The Moment featured acclaimed writer Calvin Baker about his book arguing that the only meaningful remedy to our civil rights efforts is true integration, with correspondent Shaun Scott

9/6/2020: The Deep End Friends podcast talked about Black healing, exploring liberation, healing, hope, joy, and wholeness

And more. Visit our Media Library to see past events.


Black history and Black accomplishments have been minimized and erased, and it is wonderful to be take this time to celebrate Black people’s many contributions, to all industries and communities. But most importantly, Black history is American history—this month and every month—and we look forward to continuing to celebrate Black voices year-round.

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