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African-American History Month in Richmond

Posted about 1 year ago by Meg Raymond

I keep sailing on in this middle passage.
I am sailing into the wind and the dark.
But I am doing my best to keep my boat steady and my sails full.
— Arthur Ashe

Richmond has seen a lot of African American despair and struggle and triumph since its founding in 1737.  Most of the stories remain untold, unknown, and lost to history. The Richmond History Collection (RHC) , a non-circulating collection of books housed at the Main branch, has books on all facets of Richmond history.  RHC books can be enjoyed in the library during regular hours. You can also find some black Richmond history in this booklist highlighting The African American Experience in Richmond, Virginia

On a national level, celebrating African American achievement was originally envisioned as “Negro History Week” by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, an organization founded by historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland.  (Now called Association for the Study of African American Life and History). The first celebration was in 1926, and proclaimed by mayors of individual cities. In 1976, Gerald Ford made an official presidential proclamation, nationally recognizing what had come to be known as Black History Month.  Since then, every U.S. president has made a thematic yearly proclamation in late January. Here is a link to the 2020 official presidential proclamation:

The 2020 Black History Month theme is “African Americans and the Vote”, in honor of the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment (1920 – granting women’s suffrage) and the sesquicentennial anniversary of the 15th Amendment (1870 – giving black men the right to vote)


Richmond area residents can find plenty of activities to educate, entertain, and enthrall for 2020’s Black History Month.  Public library events are generally free (although some require pre-registration); events at other venues could charge fees, require pre-registration, or limit admission, so be sure to check ahead.

Richmond Public Library

  • Feb 1 – Main, “The Brotha-to-Brother Project Kids’ Summit”
  • Feb 1 – Hull Street, Black History Month Movie Series: If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Feb 8 – Main, “Virginia Profiles in Courage, Leadership, and Social Justice”, John Mitchell, Jr.
  • Feb 8 – Hull Street, Black History Month Movie Series: Green Book
  • Feb 15 – North Avenue, Cinema Saturdays: Ruby Bridges
  • Feb 15 – Hull Street, Black History Month Movie Series: The Help
  • Feb 20 – Main, Royal Reveal: (urban fiction author) Nikki Turner Exclusive (hosted by Silk White)
  • Feb 22 – Hull Street, Black History Month Movie Series: B.O.S.S. The Black Experience in Business
  • Feb 22 – North Avenue, Cinema Saturdays: Loving
  • Feb 22 – Broad Rock, Black History Month Social
  • Feb 22 – North Avenue, Cinema Saturdays: Hidden Figures
  • Feb 29 – Main, Genealogy Workshop with Greater Richmond, VA Chapter, Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society
  • Feb 29  – Hull Street, Black History Month Movie Series: Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Library of Virginia

  • Feb 12 – Literary Virginia Book Group – We Face the Dawn: Oliver Hill, Spottswood Robinson, and the Legal Team that Dismantled Jim Crow by Margaret Edds
  • Feb 12 – Civic Conversations: a small-group discussion series – A conversation about Freedom Riders

Henrico County Public Library

  • Fairfield, Classic Film Series: Feb 3 –  Their Eyes Were Watching God, Feb 10 – Remember the Titans, Feb 24 – Fences
  • Libbie Mill, Black Film Canon: Feb 3 –  Straight Outta Compton, Feb 4 – Do the Right Thing, Feb 24 – Get Out, Feb 25 – Boyz N the Hood, Feb 29 “The Hate U Give
  • Feb 5 – Tuckahoe, Black History Month Trivia
  • Feb 5 – North Park, Artists Jerome & Jeromyah Jones
  • Feb 10 – Fairfield, Let’s Get Graphic, Octavia Butler’s Kindred
  • Feb 11 – Libbie Mill, “Frederic Remington and Buffalo Soldiers” VMFA lecture
  • Feb 11 – LIbbie Mill, Teen Art Studio, Black History Month Edition
  • Feb 15 – Libbie Mill, Petersburg Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Lecture
  • Feb 20 – Tuckahoe, VCU Lecture: School Desegregation in Virginia
  • Feb 21 – Twin Hickory, “20 and Odd: Africans’ Arrival in 1619” documentary and Q&A
  • Feb 22 – Sandston, Reconstructing Family: Post-Emancipation Records at the Library of Virginia
  • Feb 24 – Varina, Teen Art Studio: Pop Goes the Easel: An African American Experience Expressed through Pop Art
  • Feb 27 – Glen Allen, African American Art at the VMFA
  • Feb 29 – Sandston, North Park, Bright Star Theatre presents Black History Hall of Fame
  • Feb 29 – Gayton, Bright Star’s Rosa Parks and Friends

Chesterfield County Public Library

  • Feb 3 – LaPrade, movie Loving
  • Feb 6 – Bon Air, Origins of the First Twenty Africans
  • Feb 8 – Meadowdale, “Come Freedom, Come”
  • Feb 8 – Clover Hill, Leaders in Public Service
  • Feb 10 – VSU, “Gospel Sounds of Cora Armstrong”
  • Feb 12 – Ettrick-Matoaca, Hip Hop Dance to Fitness
  • Feb 13 – Chester, “Project 1619”
  • Feb 15 – LaPrade, “Calabash for Kids”
  • Feb 17 – North Courthouse Road, “Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad”
  • Feb 19 – Chester, movie Thunder Soul
  • Feb 21 – Meadowdale, “Why We Need Diverse Books with Lamar Giles”
  • Feb 22 – Bon Air, “Racial Segregation: Then and Now”
  • Feb 24 – Midlothian, “A Little Child Shall Lead Them: School Desegregation in Prince Edward County”
  • Feb 25 – Enon, “The Neighborhoods of Urban Richmond”
  • Feb 29 – Central, “Jazz in the Civil Rights Era”

American Civil War Museum

Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia

Candela Books and Gallery

Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn

Elegba Folklore Society


Pamplin Historical Park (Petersburg)

  • Feb 6 – Petersburg Civil War Roundtable at Pamplin – Chris Bingham will discuss “The United States Colored Troops at Appomattox”
  • Feb 22 – Elvatrice Belsches – “Making a Place for Themselves: a Survey of the Free Black Experience in Richmond and Petersburg, 1800-1865”

Thomas Dale High School

University of Richmond

VCU Cabell Library

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Virginia Museum of History & Culture

Wilton House Museum

Meg Raymond

If I'm not librarianing, or chasing one of my plethora of dogs around the yard, I probably have my nose buried in a book. I like all kinds of books. Regency romances - love 'em. Gory police procedurals - yes, ma'am. Historical fiction - please, and thank you. Heavy "literary" titles - shhhh, I may not have actually finished some of those! Off-beat, warped, slightly askew books - oh, yes, indeedy. Violent supernatural fantasy - why not? Chick lit, hen lit, lad lit - yeah, yeah, yeah. What have you read? Need a suggestion, or ten? Get hand-crafted suggestions with The Bookologist

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