The Bay Area boasts a thriving arts and culture community, and Black History Month is a prime time to take advantage of all relevant events and offerings. Here, we’ve compiled seven (mostly free!) events to attend — both in celebration of the accomplishments of the Black community and in acknowledgment of the long ways off the United States remains from racial equality.
On Feb. 8, the Oakland Museum of California, or OMCA, is opening a new addition to its Gallery of California History. The Black Power installation will trace the history of its namesake in California, focusing on the strain between California’s liberal reputation and prevailing racism. With OMCA located just a block from the Lake Merritt BART station, it will be easy to head on over to check out the art!
Celebrate Frederick Douglass’ birthday (and Valentine’s Day) on Feb. 14. Satisfy your sweet tooth and get in the celebratory mood with some delectably delicious desserts from local Black-owned bakeries. Check out Nuttin Butter Cookies (you can check out its hours here), a moving pop-up bakery with a stand normally located at 1371 Dwight Way that also delivers within the Berkeley area. The bakery is owned and operated by Whitney Singletary.
On Feb. 16, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., scholar, spoken word poet and musician Phavia Kujichagulia is coming to Berkeley Public Library’s Downtown location to discuss some of her latest books in a presentation titled “RACISM, The Elephant in the Room.” Her publications include “Recognizing & Resolving the Roots of Racism” and “Elephant In The Room – An Anthology of Articles, Essays and Poetry by Phoenix Fire,” and she previously taught at World College West and Stanford University as a professor of ethnomusicology and African civilizations. The evening promises to be an enlightening one, addressing the “myths and masks of racism” and how we can use language to combat oppressive forces.
Head to San Francisco on Feb. 21 for free admission to two of the exhibitions at the Museum of the African Diaspora — “Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem” and “Sadie Barnette: Phone Home.” The former examines nearly a hundred years of Black art, while the latter shows the creative work of Oakland local Sadie Barnette. Be sure not to miss out on these shows!
The Experience Sankofa Project, an interactive art exhibit in Oakland located on MacArthur Boulevard, is offering free admission to all Feb. 23 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. In “an ode to African peoples’ greatness, oppression, resistance, and aspiration,” the Experience Sankofa Project will include guided tours, re-enactments and discussions about key figures in African history. It will also feature a community ritual, with live performances from Nigerian-American husband-wife duo Ogunlano Music and Oakland-based musician WolfHawkJaguar, among others.
On Feb. 24, the Black Joy Parade — “A hyper-positive parade and festival to celebrate the Black experience past, present and future” — will make its way through four blocks of downtown Oakland. The parade is set to feature more than 75 vendors and two stages, as well as dance, food and activities.
On Feb. 26, take BART over to San Francisco City Hall for San Francisco Black History Month Cultural Experience 2019. Held by San Francisco Mayor London Breed and former supervisor Malia Cohen, this free event promises music, art, dance and even a selection of food provided by Bay Area restaurants. Based on the photos from last year’s event of the same name, the event should be a gathering of community and cultural celebration.
Contact Ryan Tuozzolo at [email protected] .