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List: Black History Month events happening in West Michigan

Here's a rundown of the Black History Month events happening in West Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Feb. 1 marks the start of Black History Month -- a time were the contributions and achievements of Black Americans can be celebrated. 

Several West Michigan organizations are foregoing in-person events for virtual ones, but here's a list of what's happening:

Museums and Art Installations

The Grand Rapids African-American Museum & Archives (GRAAMA) is offering plenty of resources to educate, inform, uplift, and entertain. Exhibits include The Art of Protest, "Black Family Matters" by artist Lester White, displays about Mayor Lyman Parks, Black Inventors, and Cooking with Soul. 

The museum has also activated its ZOOM class, Basic Black 101, every Saturday 10 a.m. with topics like Collecting Black History, Music of Protest, and Tracing Your Roots. 

Find more information here.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is holding two virtual programs related to race:

  • Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. : "Slavery in the President’s Neighborhood: The Complicated past and the Paradoxical Relationship Between Slavery and Freedom in the Nation’s Capital" presented by Lina Mann and Matthew Costello. Register for the event here.
  • Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. : "A Terrible Thing to Waste: Arthur Fletcher and the Conundrum of the Black Republican" presented by Dr. David Hamilton Golland. Register for the event here.

ArtXchange will display art by local Black artists at Woodland Mall from Feb. 12 to Feb. 14 during mall hours. Across the hall from the exhibit, the documentary “In Between the Trees,” will show multiple times a day. The film, which has just been selected to be shown at the Montreal Independent Film Festival, is loosely based on Rose Hammond’s book “Idlewild & Woodland Park, MI (An African American Remembers).”   

Artists who will be featured throughout the weekend include Olivia Thorns, Lowell Reynolds and Steven Reynolds. ArtXchangeGR will hold a reception for all participating artists at the mall from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13.

Colleges and Universities

Aquinas College, as part of St. Thomas Aquinas Week, is hosting a virtual program at 7 p.m. Feb. 3 entitled “Black Christian Experience: Race in America and what the Christian’s Approach Ought to Be.” 

Find more information here.

Calvin University will have a series of virtual speeches throughout the month as part of its "Reimagining Black History Month" program. Presentations include:

  • Feb. 4 at 4 p.m. : "Building Life Beyond Whiteness" by Dr. Willie Jennnings
  • Feb. 10 at 3:30 p.m. : "Stewards of Adamah: The Intersection of Race, Theology and the Environment" by Lyonel LaGrone
  • Feb. 11 at 4 p.m. : "What is the Value of Black History Month? Exploring Race, Time, and Space in America" By Dr. Mark Hopson
  • Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. : "Ain’t I an Innovator: The Missing Narratives of Black Women in the Field of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship" by Nicole Parker
  • Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. : "Watching Jesus Hang: Reading the Gospel Accounts of Jesus’ Crucifixion through African American Biblical Histories" by Rev. Dr. Shively Smith
  • Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. : "The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America" by Richard Rothstein

Find more information here.

Grand Rapids Community College’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion will host a virtual presentation on Black-Latinx issues in the 2020 election.  

The presentation, "Mi gente es Fuerte, ¿pero unida? … Well, it’s complicated" by Rosa Celemente, is scheduled to take place at at 4 p.m. Feb. 16 

Find more information here.

Grand Valley State University's Office of Multicultural Affairs is hosting several virtual programs all throughout the month that are open to the public: 

  • Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. : "The Resilience of Black Americans: The Need for Racial Equipty and Justice Within the Black Community" by Greater Grand Rapids NAACP President Cle Jackson. 
  • Feb. 5 at 1 p.m. : "Better or Worse": A discussion of prejudice in the classroom.
  • Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. : "Black Masculinity": A discussion on stereotypes, perceived masculinities and gender nonconformity. 
  • Feb. 17 at noon: "Conversations of Color": A discussion of being Black and LGBTQ.
  • Feb. 24 at 7p.m. : "Black-haus-tion": A panel with Black graduate students on succeeding at a predominantly white institution. 

Find more information here.


The Grand Rapids Public Library will be celebrating Black History Month with several virtual events, everything from presentations, community spotlights, live story times, musical performances, and the Taste of Soul restaurant showcase. 

  • Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. : "African American Architects" with Isaac Norris
  • Feb. 3 at noon: Community Spotlight: Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses
  • Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. : Music (NOT) In the Stacks: Edye Evans Hyde
  • Feb. 17 at noon: Community Spotlight: We Are Lit GR” with Kendra McNeil
  • Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. : Music (NOT) In the Stacks: Karisa Wilson
  • Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. : The Taste of Soul showcase will feature our different Black-owned restaurant in Grand Rapids are part of the showcase, which starts on Feb. 21 and runs until Feb. 28. 

To see a full list of events and learn more about each one, click here.

The Hackley Public Library has several virtual events happening this month -- everything ranging from educational presentations, cooking demonstrations, and haircare sessions.

  • Feb. 1 at 6 p.m.: Cooking with Soul demonstration with Chef LaKisha Harris from Soul Filled Kitchen. 
  • Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. : Black History Month bracelet making session. 
  • Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. : 7th annual Black History Trivia Contest
  • Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. : Black Hair Care Clinic with expert Nietra Hood. 
  • Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. : "Anne and Emmett" performed by the Ebony Road Players.

View the full calendar and register for events here.


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