Historic sites, film screenings, and different ways to support Black businesses this February, and beyond.
by Emily Gajda
February is Black History Month, a time to reflect on the vibrant and troubling history of Black Americans. Here in the Triangle, there are many ways to make space for contemplation by visiting landmarks, going to events, supporting Black businesses, and being more aware of the history that surrounds us. Consider these ideas to honor Black History in 2022.
Visit A Local Landmark
Here in Raleigh, there are a few spots that invite introspection, from a sculpture that marks a bygone freedman’s village to ongoing preservation projects at parks and historical sites. Consider visiting these locations as an entry point to start your own reflection, then continue your journey with an in-person or virtual visit to North Carolina’s History Museum, the City of Raleigh Museum or the digital collections of the N.C. State Archives to learn more.
Catch a Black-Centered Film at Cary Theater
All month long, the town of Cary is showing movies that celebrate pivotal Black moments in history, along with legendary figures like musicians, and athletes. Daughters of the Dust, showing on Feb. 17 and 18, follows a formerly enslaved Gullah family from South Carolina, as they navigate a new life while holding tight to their heritage. Amazing Grace, showing Feb. 11 – 13, is a long-awaited documentary that takes an in-depth look at singer Aretha Franklin’s musical career, specifically the recording of her best-selling album. Catch these and five more films this month at Cary Theater.
See website for times; 122 E. Chatham Street, Cary; townofcary.org
Grab a Book from Liberation Station for your Kiddo
Liberation Station is a children’s bookstore that centers Black characters. After finding a family heirloom that connects their family to abolitionist Frederick Douglass and taking a disappointing adventure to see how many children’s books in any given bookstore featured children of color and were written by Black authors, Victoria Scott-Miller was inspired to open a store so she could give her children the opportunity to see main characters that looked like them. Currently, you can find the Liberation Station pop-up shop in the West Building of the North Carolina Museum of Art.
2110 Blue Ridge Road; liberationstationbookstore.com
Support a Black-Owned Business
Downtown Raleigh Alliance has an extensive list of Black-owned retailers, service shops, and eateries in Downtown Raleigh to start supporting this month (and keep on your radar anytime). For areas beyond downtown, Visit Raleigh’s list has you covered.
Stream a Film from Hayti Film Next Level Series
The Hayti Film Next Level series is taking place online this year, showing two films that “push the boundaries of human expression.” The first film in the two-part series, Marighella, will be available beginning Feb. 11. In Portuguese with English subtitles, the film is based on the life of the Brazilian politician, writer, and guerilla fighter Carlos Marighella and how he fought the Brazilian military dictatorship throughout the mid-20th century. Feb. 12, Thee Debauchery Ball will be available. This documentary explores the people that grew a singular event honoring the origins of House music into a fetish-themed body-positive phenomenon that challenges preconceived notions of Black sexuality. The film series is organized every year by the Hayti Heritage Center, a group that holds events and programs to help foster cultural understanding.
February 11-13; $9 per film; hayti.org
Check Out Saltbox Seafood Joint’s Special Menu
Chef Ricky Moore is offering a special item every Wednesday this month to bring attention to the Pan-African global influence of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Each item is based on a specific dish that Moore has eaten in the region it originated. Go try Moore’s Fried Catfish and Spaghetti (from the Mississippi Delta), Bake & Shark (a stuffed pocket sandwich from Trinidad and Tobago), and other seafood versions of influential dishes in Pan-African cuisine.
2637 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, Durham; saltboxseafoodjoint.com
Head to the History Museum
The North Carolina Museum of History has all sorts of online resources to help you learn more about Black history in our state. This month, there’s a lobby display in collaboration with the NC Department of Military Affairs and others exploring the courageous and patriotic history of Black Americans serving in the United States Armed Forces. The permanent Story of North Carolina exhibit also teaches visitors about fraught times in our state’s past, including the Antebellum South, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement among others.
5 E. Edenton Street; ncmuseumofhistory.org
Listen to North Carolina’s Black Musicians
No matter your favorite genre, these local Black artists have you covered with their storied songs. Rissi Palmer, a country singer, has lived in the Triangle for more than a decade and was the first Black woman to chart a country song since Dona Mason in 1987. Pierce Freelon makes family music and is a current member of the Durham City Council. His mother, Nnenna Freelon is an acclaimed jazz musician with five Grammy-nominated albums. The Veldt made most of their discography in the early 1990s, but has recently come out with 3 psychedelic dream pop EPs and started Noir Bizarre, a Black-centered and inclusive multimedia festival concept.
Checkout a New-to-You-Artist
The Triangle has a lively arts scene, with a host of talented Black artists and creators as an integral part of it. Dare Coulter, a painter, sculptor, and children’s book illustrator, depicts lively images of Black joy in her work. Find her captivating illustrations in “My NC from A to Z”, a children’s book highlighting important facets of North Carolina’s history, or her mural in Durham on the West Ellerbee Creek Trail. Shop her work on her site where you can also follow her for updates. Sculptor Stephen Hayes is bounding from project to project, and currently has work on display at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art and at the Cameron Art Museum of Wilmington. His powerful scultpures and installations explore the cruelty of slavery and continuing indignites of racism. Greenville-based award-winning fine arts painter Richard Wilson’s paintings are featured in the Netflix original series “Raising Dion,” and his Shadow Series shows thought-provoking images of Black children with shadows behind them showing a specific Black trailblazer. His online shop includes original pieces and prints. You can also visit murals across downtown, including one of Raleigh’s newest murals honoring LevVlle Moton, the North Carolina Central University men’s basketball coach, at the corner of Hargett and Salisbury Streets.
Open Up to New Words
Pick up inspiring poetry, novels, and memoirs from Black authors – many with North Carolina connections. Last year, WALTER asked Amber Brown, Sarah Goddin, and Mamie Potter from Quail Ridge Books to share their top picks to celebrate this month. Don’t stop there – Jaki Shelton Green, NC’s 9th Poet Laureate has published dozens or works worth reading as well as Lenard Moore; both whose work can be found in the book, All the Songs We Sing, published by the Carolina African American Writers Collective.
Head to the Block Gallery
Visit the Block Gallery’s current exhibit: “Hue Untitled: The Process of Color,” curated by Christina Perkins. Six artists’ works are featured and all explore the crucial role of color in our visual dialogue. Through different mediums including audio, paintings, and photography, Hue Untitled’s works of art utilize color in different ways to show viewers why it matters. The exhibit will be on display until March 25 at the Block Gallery, a city-owned gallery managed by Raleigh Arts.
Feb. 2 – March 25; free to the public; raleighnc.gov
Learn about Raleigh’s Black History through our Archives
Right here in Raleigh, you can find incredible stories about the perseverance and vibrancy of our Black communities. Earlier this month, we compiled a list of 8 stories that each offer insight into one of the important places and faces in Raleigh’s Black history. From Saint Augustine’s University to an aging grade school and published writers to baseball players, there is so much to learn about the complicated events that took place where we stand today.
Head to John Memorial Chavis Park’s Minority Food Truck Pop-Up
Southeast Raleigh’s newly-renovated Chavis Park, is hosting events all month long for the entire family from story times to film screenings to trivia for young adults. One that caught our attention (and piqued our taste buds) was a food truck pop-up where minority food vendors will be selling their creations. The Black Inventor’s Workshop for Kids looks fun too!
Feb. 27; Free admission, 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., raleighnc.gov
This post was oriingally published in February 2022 on waltermagazine.com