12 Virtual Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in the L.A. Area
Black History Month honors heroes past and present, and is an opportunity to reflect on all of the incredible contributions African-Americans have made to our society. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Angelenos can observe the month virtually this year with an exciting lineup of online talks, events, classes, screenings and presentations. Here are 12 excellent ways for Angelenos to learn and think about Black history and accomplishment this month...and beyond.
1. Explore the Roots of Black Community in Los Angeles
Bowers Museum in Santa Ana will host a presentation exploring the history of Black Americans in Los Angeles, particularly Orange County in the early 1900s. This program, part of the museum educational series, will shed light on Black individuals who paved the way for people of color to live freely in Southern California. Tickets start at $5.
Sunday, February 7 at 11 a.m.; bowers.org
2. Attend a National Black History Month Festival
While this event isn’t specific to Los Angeles, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) is holding their month-long, 95th annual Black History Month Festival. This year, programming and speakers will be focused on representing and supporting the Black family. Tickets to the festival are free to the public and tickets to the marquee event on February 20 (A Conversation with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham) start at $50.
February 1 to 28; asalh.org/festival
3. Take in a Comedy Show
For the fifth year running, Laugh Out Proud will be celebrating Black History Month with a lineup of hilarious talent from the Black queer community. This Zoom event is uncensored, so make sure you put the kids to bed before tuning into this one. Streaming the performances is free but donations to the comics (Gloria Bigelow, Sampson McCormick and more) are encouraged.
Saturday, February 6 at 8 p.m.; meetup.com/Laugh-Out-Proud-L-A-LGBTQ-Comedy-Night-in-Studio-City
4. Learn about the Legacy of Segregation
As part of an ongoing diversity initiative, Burbank Public Library will host author Richard Rothstein in conversation on his new novel, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America. A former NY Times columnist, Rothstein is also a scholar on the history of segregation in America and its lasting impact on communities across the country. Free to register.
Thursday, February 4 at 6:30 p.m.; burbanklibrary.com
5. Honor African-American History
Aquarium of the Pacific is hosting its 19th annual African-American festival virtually this year. The free event will feature music, dance and storytelling traditions. The Aquarium will also present the Heritage Award to educator Felton Williams, Ph.D. for his outstanding service to the local African-American community.
Saturday, February 27 starting at 10 a.m.; aquariumofpacific.org
6. Catch a Virtual Viewing of an Exhibition
The William Grant Still Arts Center is holding a 40th Anniversary Black Doll Show, which celebrates and chronicles the history of depicting Black life through the art of dollmaking. The free exhibition is available to view now online.
7. Get Moving with a Virtual Dance Class
The City of Santa Monica has an entire month of virtual Black History programming slated for February, including this can’t-miss dance class led by instructor Tatiana Zamir. The follow-along-style event will get participants moving to Afro-diasporic music and rhythms. Tickets are free but registration is required.
Thursday, February 18 at 6:30 p.m.; eventbrite.com/e/afro-joy-dance-party-with-tatiana-zamir
8. Get Inspired with the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Association
The historic Forest Lawn will be streaming a series of inspirational talks and performances live on Facebook as part of the In Honor of Black History Month – Preserving Honor and Excellence virtual event. Included in the presentation will be words from Pastor Jean Burch and Pastor Geremy Dixon, jazz music, songs, dance and more.
Saturday February 13 at 12 p.m.; forestlawn.com
9. Connect with Your Community
In recognition of Black History Month, Black in Glendale will host a series of virtual community healing circles throughout February. These will include spoken yoga, therapeutic art, movement, affirmations and more. This temporary public art engagement program is sponsored by the Glendale Arts and Culture Commission and free for participants (but registration is required).
Throughout the month of February; glendaleca.libnet.info
10. Spend a Night at the (Virtual) Theater
In this Theater West production, seven actor-writers share what Black History Month means to them in a series of performances that will include personal stories and life lessons gleaned from parents and grandparents as they explore the impact of their heritage in shaping the artists they are today. Presented on Theatre West’s website and also its YouTube channel. Donation only.
Dates TBD; theatrewest.org
11. Check Out the Pan African Film & Arts Festival
The Pan African Film & Arts festival aims to showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes. Expect a riveting lineup of virtual panels, workshops, art fairs, poetry, musical performances and film. Tickets start at $25.
February 28 to March 14; paff.org
12. Check Out Some Improv
“Black History Improvised is a comedy show celebrating the lives of our everyday heroes,” reads this event’s description. Presented by Soul Sista Comedy and Marian Yesufu, this event is donation only.
Saturday, February 20 at 10 p.m.; eventbrite.com/e/black-history-improvised-tickets
Want to discover more things to do in the LA area? Sign up to our newsletter here.