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Honoring Black History Month: Events in the Seattle Area

by Victor Simoes

Last Updated on February 22, 2023, 2:45 pm.

Black History Month is well underway. The annual celebration conceived by historian Carter G. Woodson began in 1926 as a time to honor Black resistance and raise awareness of Black history.

A wide range of events are happening throughout Seattle, uplifting Black histories, stories, and brilliance. These commemorations include educational events, workshops, art exhibitions, and an entirely new museum organized by Rainier Avenue Radio, showcasing the achievements and celebrating Black historical figures particular to the Pacific Northwest.

Listed below are some events around the Seattle area to honor and learn from the vast history of Black culture, identity, and excellence.

Museum Exhibits

New Exhibitions at Wa Na Wari

Jan. 14–April 16
Wa Na Wari Art Center, 911 24th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122

Wa Na Wari displays works of New York City-based artist Kriston Banfield, whose colorful canvases deal with the sense of community and belonging in the Black diaspora, and Seattle’s  Bonnie Hopper, whose work portrays snapshots of everyday life, depicting her counterparts, friends, and family in what she defines as tactile pieces — “the idea of creating art that people can experience through touch as well as sight.”

Wa Na Wari is open for drop-in visits on Friday, 5–8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Call to Conscience Black History Month Museum

Feb. 1–Feb. 28
Columbia City Theatre, 4916 Rainier Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98118

Rainier Avenue Radio is converting their home at the historic Columbia City Theatre into a museum for February. “Call to Conscience Black History Month Museum” includes a display from historical Black resistance leaders in the Seattle Black Panther Party and 13 other installations ranging from the Hendrix family, the Royal Esquire Club, and the Black Heritage Society.

The museum operates Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. To purchase advance tickets, visit the Call to Conscience’s official website.

Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.: Rosa Parks Series

Dec. 15, 2022–Feb. 28, 2023
Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, 550 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Working primarily with printed posters and postcards, in this series made shortly after Rosa Parks’s death in 2005, Kennedy explores the power and perseverance in Park’s fight during the civil rights movement. The exhibit comprises 16 prints inspired by phrases from the late activist. 

The museum is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily.

Plays, Workshops, Discussions, Markets, & Celebrations

History of Theatre: About, By, For, and Near

Jan. 28–Feb. 12
The Falls Theatre at ACT, 700 Union St., Seattle, WA 98101

Produced in partnership with The Hansberry Project, directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, and written by Reginald André Jackson, this play recollects the erased history of Black theater. Traveling 200 years in American History, the cast of this production sheds light on the forgotten impacts of Black theater icons like The Rabbit’s Foot founder Pat Chappelle and actors Ira Aldridge and Rose McClendon.

To purchase advance tickets, visit the ACT’s event website.

Remembering and Reimagining Environmental Histories and Futures: A Writing Workshop With Rasheena Fountain and Henry Exhibition From Nina Chanel Abney

Feb. 11, 1–3 p.m.
Henry Art Gallery, 15th Ave NE & University of Washington, NE 41st St., Seattle, WA 98195

This workshop, guided by writer Rasheena Fountain, looks at “Black environmental memory,” as presented in the art of Nina Chanel Abney and offers participants the opportunity to create fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in response. The activity is designed in conversation with the ongoing exhibition of Abney’s art at the Henry, which includes themes of politics, race, and sexuality.

Please email to join the waitlist for this event.

Black History Month Research and Writing Workshop for High School Students

Feb. 15, 3–6 p.m.
The University of Washington Special Collections Room, Seattle, WA 98195

Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) will partner with UW Libraries Special Collections to offer a scavenger hunt-type workshop on research and writing focusing on black history in the Pacific Northwest.

To register, visit Black History Month Research and Writing Workshops’ Eventbrite page.

Griot Party Experience Black History Month Celebration

Feb. 11, 5–8 p.m,
Artspace Hiawatha Lofts, 843 Hiawatha Pl. S, Seattle, WA 98144

This cultural event organized by artists of the Artspace Hiawatha focuses on Black heritage. It will include presentations on spoken word, music, dancing, and an open mic section for those willing to share their stories.

For more information, including ticket availability, visit the Griot Party Experience Black History Month Celebration’s Eventbrite page.

Words Into Action

Feb. 11, 7 p.m.
New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98118

The discussion, guided by author Christina López, will center around the current challenges in the Black leftist movement. Facing the question “What is needed to move the struggle forward?”, organizers seek to explore strategies to build a multiracial movement led by militant Black workers.

Black Coffee Northwest’s Black Business Marketplace

Feb. 11, Feb. 18, & Feb. 25
Black Coffee Northwest Café, 16743 Aurora Ave. N, Shoreline, WA 98133

Black Coffee Northwest’s weekly flea market-style event consists of a vendor pop-up featuring  locally owned Black businesses. The market is a great way to support Black entrepreneurs and vendors that rotate weekly.

Northwest African American Museum Keynote Speaker Program

Feb. 16, 7–8 p.m.
Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S Massachusetts St., Seattle, WA 98144

NAAM will host a talk with Dr. Damion Thomas, the museum curator of Sports for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), speaking on the intersection of sports and Black activism.

Delivering New Worlds: Black Doulas Talk about Black Futures

Feb. 22, 5:30–7:30 p.m.
Young Women Empowered, 5623 Rainier Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98118

Listen to four Black doulas imagine Black futures in this discussion hosted by Young Women Empowered (Y-WE) and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. Discussion will be moderated by writer and Y-WE Co-Executive Director Reagan Jackson. Admission is free and includes dinner. Register for the event at the official Eventbrite website.

Seattle Commissions Black History Month Event

Feb. 25, 12–4 p.m.
Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Ave., Seattle, WA 98104

Meet BUILD (Brothers United In Leadership Development) at the City of Seattle’s five commissions of the Office of Civil Rights’ day of celebration for Black History Month. In a day chock-full of inspiring activists and leaders, speakers from BUILD will present on topics like Black economics and supporting the LGBTQ community. Childcare is offered for this event. RSVP at the official website.

Like Fine Wine, Black Joy Over Time

Feb. 25, 3–5 p.m.

In the premier online installment of Like Fine Wine, Black Joy Over Time, Black elders reflect on their “joy stories” and the essential role Black joy plays in Black liberation. The event will feature Baba Khalfani Mwamba, a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, who will talk about his joy narrative. Nacala Ayele, a joy actualization coach for Black, Indigenous and People of Color, is compiling these joy narratives in an ongoing series. This event will be livestreamed at Joyful Practices Facebook page.

Online Events at King County Library System, courtesy of KCLS

Octavia’s First Afronaut: History, Resistance, and Black Futures

Feb. 19, 2–3:15 p.m.

Join us to learn about Octavia E. Butler’s earliest efforts to (re)imagine Black women’s lives and futures at this inspiring event with Dr. Briana Whiteside. Dr. Whiteside will delve into Alana, the groundbreaking character from Butler’s novel, Survivor (1978). She will also discuss why Survivor was rescinded (at Butler’s request) from the compilation, Seed to Harvest (2007), and why the novel is an important touchstone in Butler’s remarkable career.

Precarious Lives of Free Blacks Pre-1865

Feb. 21, 6–7:15 p.m.

What was life like for “Free Blacks” prior to 1865? With more than 30 years of experience in genealogical research, Dr. Janice Lovelace will present a snapshot of Free Blacks’ lives in this time period. She’ll also talk about how freedom was obtained pre-Emancipation in British, French, and Spanish colonies, as well as in the new nation of the United States. 

Author Voices: Clyde W. Ford

Feb. 22, 7:30–8:30 p.m.

Join us for an engaging discussion with award-winning author Clyde W. Ford. Ford will discuss his latest book, Of Blood and Sweat: Black Lives and the Making of White Power and Wealth, which reveals how most American institutions of power and wealth were created by Black Americans, or created to control them.

Check out KCLS’ Black History Month reading list, and the Seattle Public Library’s Black Culture and History Collection.

This month and at all times, support Black-owned businesses in Seattle, and check out Emerald coverage of Black History Month events from previous years. 

Victor Simoes is an international student at the University of Washington pursuing a double degree in journalism and photo/media. Originally from Florianópolis, Brazil, they enjoy radical organizing, hyper pop, and their beloved cats. Their writing focuses on community, arts, and culture. You can find them on Instagram or Twitter at @victorhaysser.

📸 Featured Image: A group of people gathered on 23rd and Jackson Street during Africatown Community Land Trust’s Honoring Our Black Wall Streets Business Expo & Marketplace in May 2022. (Photo by Susan Fried)

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