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African American History Month 2024

2024 Theme: African Americans & The Arts

Celebrate African American History Month 2024


Events Happening for Black History Month 2024

Events Happening in Clanton: JSCC-Chilton Campus

  • Feb 13, QR Code investigation of Phillis Wheatley - Portraits Podcast by the Smithsonian
  • Feb 20, 2:00pm Room 204 Writing Inspirations with Dr. Pouncey - come learn to hone your writing craft
  • Feb 27, 12:30pm Lobby - Gee's Bend Poetry Reading and Quilting Activity with Sharon Stewart

Events Happening at Shelby/Hoover Campus:

  • Black History Trivia Bowl: Wednesday, February 28, 2024, at 11:30 a.m. The trivia bowl will be in person in the multipurpose room in the Judy Merritt building on the Shelby-Hoover campus. Pizza will be provided. Prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners for each trivia bowl will be awarded.

African American Quilters: Gee's Bend

Quilts That Embody the Legacy of Black America: About an hour southeast of Selma, on a horseshoe bend of the Alabama River, sits Gee’s Bend, a town of roughly 200 people whose homemade quilts hang in museums and galleries worldwide. A 14-mile trail of wooden billboards reveals the legacy of the town and its quilting matriarchs. 

Gee's Bend: The residents of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, are direct descendants of the enslaved people who worked the cotton plantation established in 1816 by Joseph Gee. 

African American Poets

From the Poetry Foundation: Poems, articles and podcasts that explore African American history and culture. 

African American Literature & Folklore

The Power of Poetry: The New Negro Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement: Known as the Harlem Renaissance, or the New Negro Renaissance, this creative upsurge in music, visual arts, theater, and literature found full expression in Harlem, Chicago, Washington, DC and other cities nationwide; it was a tangible form of racial uplift for African Americans.    

Harlem Renaissance: In the 1920’s, creative and intellectual life flourished within African American communities in the North and Midwest regions of the United States, but nowhere more so than in Harlem. The New York City neighborhood, encompassing only three square miles, teemed with black artists, intellectuals, writers, and musicians. 

Black Arts Movement: The Black Arts Movement began—symbolically, at least—the day after Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965. The poet LeRoi Jones (soon to rename himself Amiri Baraka) announced he would leave his integrated life on New York City’s Lower East Side for Harlem. There he founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre, home to workshops in poetry, playwriting, music, and painting.

Afrofuturism: Afrofuturism is a genre that centers Black history and culture and incorporates science-fiction, technology, and futuristic elements into literature, music, and the visual arts. Often using current social movements or popular culture as a backdrop, Afrofuturism focuses on works that examine the past, question the present, or imagine an optimistic future, and are meant to inspire a sense of pride in their audience.

African American Music

Roots of African American Music: African American music cannot be separated from the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the forced transportation of millions of African people across the Atlantic who were then enslaved. The cultures from which they were torn and the conditions into which they were forced both contributed to the sounds of African American music. 

Birth of the Blues: Southern African Americans developed blues music in the decades that followed the end of slavery. It incorporated elements of West African music that they retained during their American experience. 

Timeline of African American Music: From the moment the first African slaves arrived on the shores of the Americas in the 16th century, a process of cross-cultural musical dialogue was set into motion that has continued to the present. From the United States to South America, Central America and the Caribbean, a constellation of African musical traditions have blended with musical practices of Western European and Native American origin to form the foundations of the music cultures of the African diaspora. 

Revolutionary Concepts in African American Music: Since slavery, African Americans have infused their musical expression with revolutionary messages indicative of their unique and troubled journey in the New World. Through music they have demonstrated resilience... 

Musical Crossroads: African American Influence on American Music: Describing the African-American influence on American music in all of its glory and variety is an intimidating—if not impossible—task. African American influences are so fundamental to American music that there would be no American music without them. 

Hip Hop & Rap Across the Smithsonian: Explore hip-hop and rap-related collections from across the Smithsonian that offer perspective on the African American experience and its impact on American culture. 

African Americans: Theater and Performing Arts

Black Theatre: Wake up Black Theater--Theater can both reflect racism against African Americans and offer a vehicle for activists to fight against discrimination. In this way, theater tells the story of the struggle for racial justice from the late 1800s through the twentieth century. The general trend in black theater has been away from the struggle for inclusion in white-dominated institutions and toward the establishment of cultural autonomy. 

Black Playwrights You Should Know: The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute is celebrating Black artists in theatre and highlighting sixteen Black playwrights you should know. Continue reading for a biography of each playwright and a selection of their notable plays. 

The Transformative History of African American Theater--The Transformative History of African American Theater: From the African Grove Theater to "Shuffle Along" An exhibition at the Gallatin Galleries explores seminal moments in Black theater history and their impact on musical theater today.

Alvin AileyALVIN AILEY (1931–1989) founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) to carry out his vision of a company dedicated to enriching the heritage of American modern dance as well as safeguarding the uniqueness of the African American cultural experience.

Breaking Barriers on Stage: African Americans Ballet Dancers Who Made History--Before Misty, few African Americans have ever danced in the principal position at a major American ballet company. All but one were men.


From Servants to Outlaws: 100 Years of Black Representation in Hollywood Films: From Hollywood's beginnings, Black people were mostly given roles as subservient maids, butlers, slaves and sharecroppers in movies with regressive, racist messages. But over the last century, there have also been movements, from the Harlem Renaissance to the L.A. Rebellion, to present Black people as real, nuanced human beings with stories worth telling on film. 

Five You Should Know: Black Actresses Who Refused to Be Typecast-Through their achievements in the dramatic arts, African American women have broken barriers, enriched American culture, and inspired audiences around the world. Over time, the roles that black artists played on the stage and screen reflected changing aspirations, struggles, and realities for women of color in American society. 

African American Visual & Performing Arts

African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond presents works dating from the early 1920s through the 2000s by black artists who participated in the multivalent dialogues about art, identity, and the rights of the individual that engaged American society throughout the twentieth century. Artist: (James Van Der Zee)

African American Artists & Selected Work: Explore a selection of self-portraits and other works by Black artists in the Smithsonian's collections. Visual Art and The American Experience at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, illustrates the critical role American artists of African descent have played in shaping the history of American art. 

Romare Bearden

African Americans & Culinary Arts

Five Ways Black Women Shaped Food History: Black women have influenced American food history in countless ways. Several Smithsonian museums and Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III recently shared stories of Black Food History on social media. They highlighted women who nourished families and communities. 

African American Chefs You Should Know: Before the 1970s, Aunt Jemima’s pancake box carried the stereotypical image of a black cook, illustrating how the American food industry undervalued Southern cooks and cooking. Today, a new wave of African American chefs safeguard Southern foodways. As they reintroduce recipes in the nation’s top kitchens, they humanize how the public sees black chefs.

How Enslaved Chef's Helped Shaped American Cuisine: It is the story of people like Chef        Hercules, George Washington's chef; and Emmanuel Jones, who used his skills to transition out of enslavement into a successful career cooking in the food industry, evading the oppressive trappings of sharecropping.* It is also the story of countless unnamed cooks across the South, the details of their existences now lost.

African Americans & Fashion

Trailblazer, fashion icon, creative force: Andre' Leon Talley: The greatest luxury,’ proclaimed André Leon Talley in a 2010 interview with the Yale Daily News, ‘is to be a kind, good person and to impart to humanity something that will enrich their lives, to have a moment with someone that you’ve imparted richness.’ Through his insistence, Talley was able to throw open the doors of the fashion world for a much wider group of people. 

Black Fashion Icons You Should Know: African Americans have participated in the fashion industry in various roles, including as designers, dressmakers, seamstresses and influencers. They have found ways to build spaces for their creative expressions, even when they have faced intensively challenging circumstances such as prejudices and discrimination based on race, gender and classism.