Newport News is celebrating Black History Month with a variety of activities that honor the history, traditions, advancements, and culture of African Americans. Whatever your interests – from theatrical and musical performances to museum exhibitions and engaging workshops – an array of experiences await in Newport News!
A key focus of Black History Month is learning, and educational opportunities abound in Newport News. During slavery, numerous restrictions and barriers prevented individuals from staying together as a family. Because it was forbidden for them to learn to read or communicate openly with each other, those who were enslaved often found creative ways to express themselves and share their stories. One of those ways was through art. Art leaves room for creative freedom, open interpretation, and the ability to outwardly express emotions. With the many forms of art, Black people were able to express themselves through literature, visual arts, music, dance, theater, fashion, and comedy. These forms of art meant freedom and reconnection to their loved ones. Art is still bringing people together.
Below are just a few events taking place around the city in honor of Black History Month.
- Experience creativity through Black ingenuity at Lee Hall Depot, as they host activities highlighting African American railroad inventors on Saturday, February 3 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.
- Visit the Virginia Living Museum every weekend for special STEM activities highlighting Black scientists.
- On Thursday, February 8 at 6 p.m., jump on Zoom for the one-hour virtual event, Finding My Folks – Connecting Through Genealogy Research. Tidewater Genealogical Society and representatives from Main Street Library’s Virginiana Room will share and introduce resources that can be used in researching and building family trees. During the free workshop, learn about various research techniques, websites, books, and periodicals available. Register online to receive the event’s link.
- Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center will premiere The Color Purple: The Musical on Friday, February 9 and Saturday, February 10. This story of reconnecting with those you love will take place on the large stage with three shows every weekend in February. Tickets are $25 and available at www.downing-gross.org. Purchase a ticket for opening weekend and enjoy free photos with your friends and family in a 360 photobooth.
- Head to Grissom, Main Street, and Pearl Bailey Libraries for hands-on activities and make and take crafts. Create art inspired by renowned artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, make a fabric collage while learning folklore about mermaids in Africa and the Caribbean, play Black History bingo, watch movies, and more this month. Visit the libraries’ website for dates and times of each event.
- Stop by The Mariners’ Museum at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 22 for a special evening lecture, Shipwrecked: A True Civil War Story of Mutinies, Jailbreaks, Blockade-Running and the Slave Trade.
- Attend Newport News Public Library’s We Stand for Justice event at the Main Street Library on February 24 from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. This annual event honors local African Americans whose activism produced an enduring historical legacy while contributing to the cause of social justice in the City of Newport News.
- Take a trip to Main Street Library for the Until Freedom Comes exhibit. This exhibit chronicles the history of African Americans in Newport News from 1623 to present day.
- Visit the Torggler Fine Arts Center to experience Communications Village from Benjamin Wigfall and Bio-myths: Photographs by NaKeya Brown. Wigfall’s Communications Village exhibition highlights the period from his early years in Virginia in the 1950s to his founding of Communications Village, a community art space in Kingston, NY, in the 1970s. Brown’s Bio-myths exhibit is a journey through history and material culture of African American beauty products for the last 10 years.
For questions or more information, contact us at 757-933-2311.