Ways to Engage this Black History Month

February 20, 2024
Pilar Padilla

Featured image: “Three Women” by Charles Dickson – 1966, Mixed media oil on canvas; learn more at CII’s Watts Campus Virtual Art Tour

Happy Black History Month!

Every year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) designates a theme for Black History Month. This year’s theme is African Americans and the Arts. According to ASALH, “African American art is infused with African, Caribbean, and the Black American lived experiences. In the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression, the African American influence has been paramount. African American artists have used art to preserve history and community memory as well as for empowerment.”

So, we wanted to call attention to opportunities for CII staff and community to engage locally, in the art and history of LA’s Black Community.

Watts Towers Art Center – Black Brown Beige Exhibit

In 1943, Duke Ellington performed the symphony Black, Brown and Beige at Carnegie Hall, the title of which referred to the mistaken assertion that African-Americans can be categorized by a single color. In light of the shared experiences between Black and Latino Americans and in an effort to share the various colorful stories that lie behind a label, WTAC has organized the exhibition Black, Brown and Beige. The artists in the exhibition follow the trajectory that Ellington’s symphony set out to cover; historical, transitional and contemporary narratives.

Bahia Reverb: Artists and Place

Bahia Reverb: Artists and Place presents the work of ten artists who are former fellows at the Sacatar Institute in Bahia, Brazil—all from North America and of African descent. The exhibition reflects on how Bahia, an epicenter of the African diaspora that is located in northeast Brazil, has fueled their  work and changed their understanding of themselves. Bahia was the first point of entry of enslaved Africans into the Americas and remains the center of Afro-Brazilian culture to this day.

The Museum of African American Art

The MAAA in Los Angeles educates visitors of all ages and identities about the arts through the lens of African American culture. Exhibits and programs at MAAA allow artists and their work to inspire new thinking about issues that intersect with the shared experiences of people across the African diaspora and beyond. The museum’s uniquely accessible art space allows us to exhibit the work of extraordinary local artists and bring meaningful art experiences to the public. MAAA proudly welcomes all visitors with FREE admission, serves as an important community gathering space, and creates educational experiences for students and lifelong learners.

Skirball Cultural Center – This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement

Find hope in our capacity for collective action. This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement showcases more than 150 photographs that reveal the vital work undertaken by a broad coalition of young organizers and everyday people who fashioned a movement that changed America. The exhibition highlights the work of nine photographers primarily affiliated with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s: Bob Adelman, George “Elfie” Ballis, Bob Fitch, Bob Fletcher, Matt Herron, David Prince, Herbert Randall, Maria Varela, and Tamio Wakayama.

Los Angeles Public Library – Black History Month Event Series

Engage in a number of artistic endeavors celebrating Black History Month with the LA Public Library. Activities include film screenings of Summer of Soul, Eve’s Bayou, and Black Panther. Engage in books discussions around “Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson and “Kindred” by Octavia Butler. Enjoy a program showcasing African dance rhythms or take a fabric and painting workshop with the whole family.