9 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Charlotte

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Photo by Tyrus Ortega Gaine/Courtesy of Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture

There are myriad ways to celebrate Black History Month in Charlotte. Check out local black-owned restaurants like The Yolk, which just opened in 7th Street Public Market, or Loft & Cellar. Or take the historical route and tour sites with ties to black history like Johnson C. Smith University, W.T. Alexander Slave Cemetery and multiple churches and schools around town.

We’ve taken the arts-and-culture route. Here are a few of the events this month that’ll help you explore black heritage in the Queen City and beyond:

(1) Art After Dark

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

When: Feb. 1, 6-10 p.m., Free

Explore the Gantt Center’s award-winning exhibits — including the museum’s temporary “Welcome to Brookhill” exhibit — for free. In addition to offering guided tours every hour, the event will feature Ted Talks-style speakers, spoken word performances, R&B trivia, and workshops that dig into the history of black music.

[Related: Top 10 things you MUST do in February]

(2) Mapping the Historic West End

When: Feb. 3, 2-4 p.m., Free

Courtesy of the James Peeler Collection

During this two-hour public viewing, Johnson C. Smith University’s library will showcase “The Historic West End,” an interactive digital map that explores one of Charlotte’s historically black neighborhoods through photography, documents and oral histories. Jazz, food and guided tours will be available. Bring your phone to participate.

(3) Tommie Robinson Mural Dedication

Second Ward Gym

When: Feb. 7, 10 a.m., Free

Courtesy of Arts & Science Council

In September, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation unveiled renovations to Second Ward Gym, which was once part of all-black Second Ward School and served as a community center for Charlotte’s historically black Brooklyn neighborhood. During this ceremony, local artists Tommie Robinson will unveil two murals painted to celebrate the history and heritage of the school.

(4) The Classic Black Cinema Series — Within Our Gates

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

When: Feb. 10, 2- 4 p.m., Free-$9

Courtesy of the Harvey B. Gantt Center

Oscar Micheaux was the first black American film director. During this screening of silent film “Within Our Gates,” Micheaux’s first surviving film, follow the story of heroine Evelyn Preer, an educated black woman who, after being abandoned by her fiance, helps a school for impoverished black youth recover from bankruptcy. Purchase tickets online.

(5) The Soul Food Scholar: Adrian Miller’s Tales of a White House Kitchen

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

When: Feb. 12, 5:30-8 p.m., Free-$40

During this presentation, James Beard Award-winning author Adrian Miller delves into the history of black chefs in the presidential kitchen. Sample dishes based on presidential recipes as you learn about the cooks who fed George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson and Barack Obama. Purchase tickets online.

(6) QCC Short Film Collection: Black History Month

Thirsty Nomad Brewing

When: Feb. 15, 7-10 p.m., $5 admission, $10 for admission, beer and snacks

Join Queen City Cinephiles for this reoccurring film series. Every other month, QCC will screen a selection of short films. Fittingly, February’s lineup includes shorts from African and African-American filmmakers: “The Last Integrated School,” “To The Brown Girl in the Room,” “The American South As We Know It,” and “Battledream Chronicles: A New Beginning.” Purchase tickets online.

(7) #ShapingCLT

Levine Museum of the New South

When: Feb. 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m., $10

CharlotteFive archives

In conjunction with the museum’s exhibit “K(NO)W JUSTICE K(NO)W PEACE,” this monthly series is billed as a “do-it-yourself social change toolkit” — basically, teaching attendees how to turn difficult conversations into civic action. The museum brings in thought leaders to talk about trending issues, such as policing. Light bites and a cash bar will be available. Purchase tickets online.

(8) Neal Caine plays Charles Mingus

The Jazz Room at Stage Door Theater

When: Feb. 22-23, Times vary, $14-16

A proponent of improvisation, Charles Mingus is considered one of history’s greatest jazz composers. Hear the works of the double bass talent played by Neal Caine, who is a celebrated musician in his own right during one of the two showings on Friday or Saturday night. Purchase tickets online.

(9) African-American Heritage Festival

The Charlotte Museum of History

When: Feb. 23, Noon-4 p.m., Free

Courtesy of Charlotte Museum of History

Learn about Charlotte’s slave history during this interactive festival. Experience Hezekiah Alexander Rock House through the eyes of Bet, a former slave, and learn about the African traditions that still flavor Southern foods today. The event will also include a kids’ activity that explores how slaves escaped to freedom and a panel explaining how to preserve your own family histories. Register online.

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