Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, celebrates the achievements and contributions of Black Americans throughout the country’s history. PBS SoCal found several events to help celebrate and commemorate all month long.
- Black Panther
- Two Trains Running
- Black History Parade & Cultural Faire
- Speaking Truth to Power: From Thomas to Kavanaugh
- The Mountaintop
- California African American Museum
- Barracoon: A Tribute to Zora Neale Hurston
- Stormy Weather, A Tribute to Lena Horne
The Walt Disney Company announced that the Academy Award-nominated film returns to the big screen from Feb. 1-7 in honor of Black History Month. Tickets are free at participating AMC theaters. (Simultaneously, Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger also announced that the company was also donating $1.5 million to support the educational nonprofit UNCF.)
Acclaimed playwright August Wilson’s Two Trains Running plays at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles from Feb. 2-March 3. The play is the seventh in his 10-part series, The Pittsburgh Cycle, which traces the African American experience in America through the 20th century. Set in 1969 Pittsburgh, the regulars of Memphis Lee’s restaurant struggle to cope with a turbulent and changing world—themes that still resonate nearly 50 years later. Tickets: $35.
The parade starts at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Center Street Promenade in Anaheim, and immediately following the parade, the cultural faire begins, running until 4:00 p.m. Check out black history information, health information and screenings, family-friendly activities, and food provided by community groups for sale. Comedian Dexter Smiles hosts the music festival, which runs from noon to 4:00 p.m. Free admission.
On Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. the Hammer Museum presents a screening and discussion of the documentary Anita (2013, dir. Freida Lee Mock, 77 min.). In 1991, Anita Hill testified before a Senate committee on the sexual harassment she endured while working with then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Hill’s testimony spoke to issues of gender, race, sexual harassment, and power. After the screening, there’s a conversation with UCLA law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who assisted Hill’s legal team, and writer Rebecca Traister, author of Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.
The Garry Marshall Theatre in Burbank presents 20 performances of The Mountaintop from Feb. 6 to March 10. Katori Hall’s Olivier Award-winning Best New Play (2010), takes place on the night of April 3, 1968. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has just given “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech during an intense sanitation worker strike in Memphis. He spoke as if he knew what might happen the next day. Tickets: $25 to $65.
CAAM has a number of events throughout the month. From Feb. 8-10, the museum presents Race Relay, an interactive theatrical production that explores race today. Other programs include: Activating Artists: Know Your Rights (Feb. 12), Black Composers Songversation (Feb. 13) and Leveraging Influence: Black Celebrity and Activism (Feb. 26). These programs are free.
On Sunday, Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m., the Skirball Cultural Center celebrates the life and work of African American novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. In 1927, she interviewed the last living freed slave who arrived from Africa on a slave ship. This oral history was published just last year, and Tony Award winner L. Scott Caldwell and Bill Cobbs from the Ebony Repertory Theatre present a staged reading from Hurston’s book, Barracoon: The Story of the “Last Black Cargo.” UCLA historian Wade Dean provides an overview of Hurston’s contributions, and an audience discussion with producer-director Wren T. Brown follows the program. Tickets: $15-20.
In celebration of Black History Month, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association teams with the Hollywood Heritage Museum to welcome James Gavin, author of Stormy Weather: The Life Of Lena Horne on Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Gavin’s presentation explores the life and career of the legendary performer and civil rights activist. The evening includes rare film and television clips, and the author signs copies of his book after the program. Tickets: $15.