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How to Celebrate Black History Month in Seattle

Readings, panel discussions, and exhibits on Black history fill this month with reflection and learning.

By Seattle Met Staff

Benjamin F. McAdoo Jr., the first Black architect registered in Washington, is featured in MOHAI's "From the Ground Up."

Image: Tom Barlet

If we took anything from recent years and the legacy of CHOP, it's that countering systemic racism and implicit bias starts with listening and learning. We don't need to wait until an annual observance to do that, but Black History Month is still a great place to start.

Dan Berger with Carmen Rojas

February 1 | Town Hall

University of Washington Bothell professor and historian Dan Berger joins Marguerite Casey Foundation CEO Carmen Rojas to discuss his latest work, Stayed On Freedom: The Long History of Black Power. The book follows the true story of Zoharah Simmons and Michael Simmons, two unsung Black Power activists who devoted their lives to the cause. 

A Seattle History Worth Preserving: Buffalo Soldiers

February 1–28 | Seattle Center Armory

Back when Discovery Park was still known as Fort Lawton, hundreds of Black soldiers were stationed there as part of the U.S. Army’s 25th infantry. This ongoing exhibit at Seattle Center looks at the history of the revered Buffalo Soldiers and their contributions to the region. On February 5, a jazz performance showcases their musical legacy.

Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.: Rosa Parks Series

February 1–28 | Bainbridge island museum of art

American book artist and printmaker Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. uses his art for social and political commentary. His Rosa Parks series honors the activist's humanity and determination with stylized prints of her quotes.

Call to Conscience Black History Museum

February 1–28 | Columbia city theater

Rainier Avenue Radio continues its tradition of celebrating Black excellence with a pop-up museum and a full month of programming. Expect to find everything from a Seattle Steelheads display to exhibits from the Seattle Black Panther Party and the Jimi Hendrix family.

From the Ground Up: Black Architects and Designers

February 4–April 30 | MOHAI

MOHAI plays host to a nationally touring exhibition of instrumental Black architects and designers who created the world we inhabit—from the pyramids of Egypt to local skylines. A portion of the exhibit features Black designers who specifically impacted Seattle’s structures, both historical and contemporary. 

Black Business Marketplace

February 4, 11, 18, 25 | Black Coffee northwest

Support Black-owned businesses while picking up your daily cuppa. This Shoreline coffee shop hosts a marketplace pop-up every Saturday from 9am–3pm. Vendors may rotate, so come back every week for a different selection of products.

Marita Dingus with Gary Faigin

February 7 | Town Hall

Auburn-born Black sculptor Marita Dingus uses her work as a "commentary on the enslavement of African people, recycling, and the politics of poverty." Gage Academy of Art's artistic director Gary Faigin chats with Dingus about her career, and where she hopes to go next.

Reginald Dwayne Betts

February 9 | Town Hall

Award-winning author Reginald Dwayne Betts challenges our perception of "justice" with a one-person performance adapted for the stage from Felon, his lauded collection of poetry about life after incarceration. 

Words into Action

February 11 | New Freeway Hall

Ready for some conversation? The Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women host an evening when writers "pose bold strategies for a revived freedom struggle." The event features author Christina López, who grew up in Phoenix and is involved with the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing fight against police brutality. 

Griot Party Experience

February 11 | Artspace Hiawatha Lofts

Storytelling group Griot Party celebrates their Black ancestors with a literal party, featuring spoken word, music, and dancing. An open mic lets all share their story.

Building with Purpose: Black Architects and Community Agency

February 11 | MOHAI

Architects and artists lead a conversation about our evolving communities, focusing on equitable development and gentrification in the Puget Sound area. 

Paying Tribute to Seattle’s Black Landmarks and Their Namesakes

February 15 | MOHAI

Do you know the local Black figures whose names are found on Seattle street signs, sites, and buildings? Historian Mary Henry uses her new book, Tributes: Black People Whose Names Grace Seattle Sites, to lead a historical who's who.

Black History Month Keynote Program

February 16 | Northwest african american museum

The recently reopened Northwest African American Museum hosts Dr. Damion Thomas, the curator of sports for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Prepare to be "inspired, informed, and ignited for action."

Designing with Intention: Three Generations of Black Architects

February 28 | MOHAI

Three generations of Black architects from the Pacific Northwest lead a panel discussion about succeeding in a historically white-dominated field, serving underrepresented communities with their work, and the changing nature of their industry.

Fishing Was His Life

Through March 5 | Henry art gallery

Nina Chanel Abney delves into the Black community's rich legacy within commercial fishing and coastal fisheries with art that is vivid yet "deceptively simple." Her geometric style adds visual allure, while her works examine the themes of commodity, consumption, and racial inequality.

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