February has been designated as Black History Month since 1979, but the push for understanding and recognition of Black history started decades before. Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson — who came to be known as “The Father of Black History” — launched the first “Negro History Week” in 1926 as an effort to assert Black lives into a previously all white American history. Woodson would no doubt agree with what today’s teachers of Black History know: This learning and awareness must not be confined to a season.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH FILM FESTIVAL The Boston Globe showcases films and filmmakers that document Black culture, experiences, and strife. Combining both new films and timeless classics, the festival will include discussions among viewers and conversations with filmmakers. Feb. 1, free. https://blackhistorymonthfilmfestival.splashthat.com/
DRIVING WHILE BLACK: AFRICAN AMERICAN TRAVEL AND THE ROAD TO CIVIL RIGHTS In her new book, Gretchen Sorin aims to show “how access to cars completely transformed Black life,” offering freedom of movement and serving as “a tool in the battle to end discrimination in public accommodations,” as she explains in the book’s introduction. The professor and director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program of the State University of New York will discuss her book, which blends archival research and her own family’s story, with Catherine Allgor, president of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Feb. 1, 5:30 p.m., free. https://www.masshist.org/calendar/
PROTEST AS POLITICS: AFRICAN AMERICAN YOUNG ADULTS, REIMAGINING DEMOCRACY Following a year filled with protests against anti-Blackness and white supremacy, the power of taking to the streets is palpable. Cathy Cohen, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, will explore the role of young Black people in recent efforts to reimagine democracy in a talk hosted by Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute. Feb. 2, 4 p.m., free. https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: FOUR HUNDRED SOULS For their new book “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019,” editors Ibram X. Kendi (author of “How to be an Antiracist”) and Keisha N. Blain (author of “Set the World on Fire”) enlisted 90 writers to document the 400-year journey of African-Americans. Each contributor illuminates five years of African-American history, from 1619 to current day, via short stories, essays, vignettes, and polemics. The National Museum of African American History and Culture will hold a moderated discussion with Kendi, director and founder of BU’s Center for Antiracist Research, and Blain, associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, about the book and the lasting impact of slavery and racism in the United States. Feb. 2, 7 p.m., free. https://nmaahc.si.edu.
ONE OF THE GOOD ONES In their new young adult novel, “One of the Good Ones,” sisters Maika and Martiza Moulite tell the story of Happi, a teenager whose sister is killed at a social justice rally. As Happi tries to mourn her loss, her sister becomes a martyr for the fight against police brutality. The Moulite sisters will discuss their book and answer questions in a Boston Public Library event. Feb. 3, 2 p.m., free. https://bpl.bibliocommons.com/events/
HIGHER LAWS: BLACK AND WHITE TRANSCENDENTALISTS AND THE FIGHT AGAINST SLAVERY During the anti-slavery movement, Transcendentalists used “Higher Laws,” moral principles that supersede secular laws, as a way of protesting slavery. Later, scholars such as Martin Luther King Jr. and W.E.B. Du Bois used them to engage with civil rights. Princeton Professor Peter Wirzbicki will delve into “Higher Laws,” and Transcendentalism in a discussion at Massachusetts Historical Society. Feb. 4, 5:30 p.m., free. https://www.masshist.org/calendar/event?event=3434
BLACK HISTORIES, BLACK FUTURES The Museum of Fine Arts Boston invites students in third to eighth grade to explore paintings by 20th-century Black artists, selected by Boston teens, via a livestream program. An MFA curator guides the discussion, and students will also learn how their peers curated the exhibition. The event is open to any student working from home. Feb. 8, 11:10 a.m. or 1:10 p.m., free. https://www.mfa.org/event/distance-learning/
FLOATING IN A MOST PECULIAR WAY In his memoir, Louis Chude-Sokei describes his path from the short-lived African nation of Biafra, to a displaced children’s home in Jamaica, to his mother’s home in Los Angeles. Chude-Sokei will discuss his book and coming to terms with his Blackness with fellow Nigerian author Tochi Onyebuchi in this event hosted by Brookline Booksmith. Feb. 8, 7 p.m., free. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/louis-chude-sokei-with-tochi-onyebuchi-floating-in-a-most-peculiar-way-tickets-133002348605
A CONVERSATION WITH POET TONYA M. FOSTER Tonya M. Foster’s poetry and essays have explored the intersection of visual and written art, ideas of place and emplacement, and the 20th- and 21st-century African Americas. At an event hosted by Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute, Foster will discuss her latest poetry collection, “AHotB,” and Fanny Lou Hamer’s idea that “a black woman’s body is never hers alone.” Feb. 9, noon, free. https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/
KATHERINE JOHNSON As part of its Black History Month celebration, the Discovery Museum in Acton commemorates Katherine Johnson, a Black research mathematician who worked with NASA to put the first Americans in space. (Johnson was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures.”) The drop-in event will feature a number guessing game designed for young children. Feb. 11, noon-2 p.m., free with admission. https://www.discoveryacton.org/event/celebrate-black-history-month-katherine-johnson
AND SO ON: READING AND CONVERSATION WITH KIESE LAYMON Author Kiese Laymon and Professor Courtney Baker will talk about the ethics of creating comedic narratives about Black American horror in predominantly white spaces, like college campuses. At the virtual event hosted by Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute, Laymon will create a live novella and essay during this talk, highlighting the ethics of making this art for an audience that includes white people. Feb. 11, 4 p.m., free. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/harvard-events/
IN DIALOGUE: SOCIAL SMITHSONIAN OBJECTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE — RACE AND MEDICINE As a part of their monthly collaboration, educators from the National Portrait Gallery partner with curators from the National Museum of African American History and Culture to discuss their art and its relationship with social justice issues. In this session, the Smithsonian scholars will discuss race and medicine as seen in pieces from the two museums. Feb. 11, 5 p.m., free. https://nmaahc.si.edu/event/
THE CROOKED PATH TO ABOLITION: ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE ANTISLAVERY CONSTITUTION Historian and professor James Oakes will discuss Abraham Lincoln’s complicated legacy in a conversation with Harvard professor Randall Kennedy. In his new book, “The Crooked Path to Abolition,” Oakes uncovers Lincoln’s Constitution-based strategy regarding the abolition of slavery. Hosted by the Massachusetts Historical Society. Feb. 11, 5:30 p.m., free. https://www.masshist.org/calendar/event?event=3435
I AM RESILIENCE After being wrongfully convicted of a double homicide, Ricky Kidd spent 23 years trying to prove his innocence. He was exonerated and released in 2019. Kidd will discuss the prison system and criminal justice reform advocacy in a live Zoom event hosted by Boston College. Feb. 11, 7 p.m., free. http://events.bc.edu/
CODESWITCHING METCO students who navigate from their neighborhoods in the city to the well-resourced suburban schools they attend sometimes drop elements of their culture, language, and behavior to fit in. Relying on personal narratives, “CodeSwitching” explores their lives and the positive and harmful effects of constant code-switching. The documentary is part of The Boston Globe Black History Month Film Festival. Feb. 16, noon, free. https://codeswitching.splashthat.com/
BLACK RADICAL: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM MONROE TROTTER A virtually unknown, unlikely American hero, William Monroe Trotter organized the Black working class in the early 20th century to use their political power despite the racism of post-Reconstruction America. In her book, “Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter,” Kerri Greenidge, director of the American Studies program at Tufts, details Trotter’s legacy and his dream for Black liberation that dates to well before Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Marcus Garvey took the stage. This discussion will be hosted by Boston Public Library. Feb. 17, 6 p.m., free. https://bpl.bibliocommons.com/events/
SLAVERY, WEALTH CREATION, AND INTERGENERATIONAL WEALTH In a panel discussion hosted by the Massachusetts Historical Society and Northeastern’s School of Law, historians will explore how Massachusetts played an implicit role in slavery and the slave trade and how the poverty created by slavery is a direct cause of race-based inequality in Massachusetts. Feb 18, 6 p.m., free. http://calendar.northeastern.edu/event/
LEWIS HOWARD LATIMER EVENT During the intersection of National Engineers Week (Feb. 21-27) and Black History Month, The Discovery Museum in Acton celebrates Lewis Howard Latimer, a Black inventor and electrical engineer born in Chelsea in 1848. Latimer played an integral role in creating the filaments necessary for the telephone and light bulb, and kids can experiment with simple circuitry, and explore different materials. Feb. 23, noon, free with admission. https://www.discoveryacton.org/event/
THE THREE MOTHERS: HOW THE MOTHERS OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., MALCOLM X, AND JAMES BALDWIN SHAPED A NATION Anna Malaika Tubbs’s first book, “The Three Mothers,” explores and celebrates Black motherhood by telling the stories of the women who raised Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X. and James Baldwin. Tubbs discusses her book at an event hosted by Boston Public Library and the Museum of African American History, and others. Feb. 23, 6 p.m., free. https://bpl.bibliocommons.com/events/
PROTEST AND CITIZENSHIP: REVISITED The power of collective protest has been integral in advancing the rights of the disenfranchised, and 2020 held clear examples, especially the demonstrations that took place after the murder of George Floyd. Four scholars will discuss how the past informs the current sociopolitical climate, in a continuation of a 2018 discussion held by the Massachusetts Historical Society. Feb. 25, 5:30 p.m., free. https://www.masshist.org/
LOST AND FOUND: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, RACE, AND RESTORATIVE JUSTICE In 1857, the US Attorney General stated that inventions by Black people were not eligible for patent protection. In 2021, .3 percent of US-born patent holders are Black. Discussing this historical inequity are a licensed patent attorney, two Northeastern students, and a professor of law and history in a roundtable hosted by Northeastern University. Feb. 25, 6 p.m., free. http://calendar.northeastern.edu/event/
BLACK ENGINEERS OF NASA Participants will learn about Black aerospace engineer Lonnie Johnson (who also invented the Super Soaker) and Black female astronauts Mae Jemison and Stephanie Wilson while designing and building their own “landing pod” at the Discovery Museum. Feb. 27, noon, free with admission. https://www.discoveryacton.org/event/
Natachi Onwuamaegbu can be reached at email@example.com.