In 1926, Carter G. Woodson, an African American historian, author, and journalist, declared the second week in February as Black History Week. He chose February because it was the birthday month of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass—two Americans who greatly influenced black America.
As our nation reached its bicentennial, it was decided in 1976 to expand the week celebration to a month to recognize the role of African Americans in US history.
In Los Angeles, there is no better place to kick off the celebration than the USS Iowa Museum located at the LA Waterfront. The Battleship Iowa, also known as the Battleship of Presidents, has a series of events and tributes planned throughout February to honor Black History Month.
Between February 4-15 the Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF) will be held at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza at 4200 Marlton Avenue in Los Angeles.
The PAFF selects and showcases movies that entertain as well as address current political and socioeconomic issues affecting Black America.
“America is Still the Place” will kick off the festival on February 4, 2016. Directed by Patrick Gilles, it’s a film about the post civil rights era in 1971 San Francisco where a black Korean War vet and his family realize their dream of economic independence. “Agents of Change,” the Centerpiece selection will be shown Thursday, February 11. This film examines racial conditions on college campuses during the late 1960s and the protests that led to meaningful black and ethnic studies programs on American campuses.
Closing the festival will be “Miles Ahead,” the story of Miles Davis, an iconic musical genius of the 20th Century. Don Cheadle does double duty as director and star of this entertaining film.
Located in Exposition Park, the California African American Museum is a perfect place to learn more about the contributions of black Americans to US history and society. Sunday, February 7, 20, and 28 there will be lectures about the participation of African Americans in the political, economic, and social life of the South, the moral questions surrounding slavery, and the rise of elected black officials during the 19th, 20th, and 21st Centuries.
The Aquarium of the Pacific will host its 14th Annual African American Festival on February 27-28 from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. The festival celebrates the rich diversity of African American and African cultures. During the last weekend in February, the festival will feature live entertainment, arts and crafts, and ethnic food. Jazz musicians, West African dancers, and storytellers will be on hand.
With celebrations at the LA Waterfront, Baldwin Hills, Exposition Park, and the Aquarium of the Pacific, Los Angeles seems the place to be when celebrating Black History Month.