Best Ways To Celebrate Black History Month 2013 In Cleveland

February 4, 2013 8:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

African American History Month originally got its start in 1926 as “Negro History Week” by Carter G. Woodson. In 1976 it was changed to a month long celebration and February was chosen as the month in which it would be observed. The purpose is to honor all African American personalities who have contributed to the betterment of mankind and to remember the lives of these great Americans. It is also used to educate and pass on the true meaning of equality regardless of race.

We are asked to take time during this month to pay homage to the men and women who have passed before us; to honor their contributions and understand the suffering and humiliation they underwent in the last century. Furthermore, February is singled out as the month when we take the pledge that the practice of racism shall never be allowed to be practiced in our lifetime.

In Cleveland, there are numerous events and celebrations dedicated to the idea of freedom and equality for all. Traditional African music, stories, cuisine and performances are featured at many events as well as symposiums and talks on the subject of the history of the slave trade, slave rebellion and the fight for civil rights.

Dr. Howard Fuller
Cleveland Main Library
325 Superior Ave., NE
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 623-7015

Hours: Feb. 5 – 6:30 p.m.
Price: Free

Fuller will be speaking about his mission to support innovative educational options that motivate children to learn while giving empowerment to parents in the making of educational decisions concerning their children without any regard to social status or income. Howard is the founder and director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University and is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

The Youth Renaissance Showcase
Cleveland Main Library
325 Superior Ave., NE
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 623-7015

Hours: Feb. 9 – 2:00 p.m.
Price: Free

Members of the Youth Renaissance Choir will be on hand in the Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium to perform alongside a menagerie of student-produced music and videos from community projects including Feed Your Mind and Read, Bookin’ Beats, Rockin’ the 216 and Bully X Project. The event is affiliated with Reading R.A.M.M. (Recording Arts Music Media), through which students are able to create multimedia art in the form of songs, music, videos and film. In doing so they improve their language and reading comprehension skills while at the same time having fun.

Ralph Jones

Rice Branch Library
11535 Shaker Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44104
(216) 623-7046

Hours: Feb. 15 – 6 p.m.
Price: Free

Ralph Jones is Faculty-In residence at the Afrikan Heritage House of Oberlin College and is known internationally as a recording and performing artist. Using his background in ethnomusicology and his appreciation of all music ranging from Rhythm and Blues to Shostakovich he melds these far flung influences into an auto-physio-psychic music that emanates from his mental, physical and spiritual self.

Related: Best Budget Events In Cleveland

The Devil’s Music: The Life And Times Of Bessie Smith
The Allen Theatre
1407 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 241-6000

Hours: Feb. 15 to March 10 – showtimes vary
Price: $15 to $69.

It’s a private parlor in Memphis, Tennessee and Bessie Smith takes the stage. Learn all about the trials and tribulations that made up the life of “The Empress of the Blues.”  Battling gender, race and musical prejudice in the 1930’s, she fought for her right to sing her songs her way. This play, presented by Cleveland Play House will open your eyes to a by-gone era that isn’t as far away as it seems.

PUSH: Madison Vs. Madison
Cleveland Public Library Martin Luther King Jr. Branch
1962 Stokes Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 623-7020

Hours: Feb. 22 – 6 p.m.
Price: Free

Coach Dennis Wilson uses the basketball court and the classroom to teach his players, the students at Madison Park Vocational in Roxbury, MA, how to escape the obstacles of family difficulties, tragedy, rivalries and poverty to become the best that they can be. Witness his methods and the obstacles his team overcomes in this documentary film. “PUSH: Madison vs. Madison” will be followed by an interactive discussion with  Wilson and Rudy Hypolite, the film’s director and executive producer.

Cuyahoga County Library, Independence Branch, located at 6361 Selig Drive (Photo By Mark Horning)

Michael Strasser: Music Of The Civil Rights Movement
Cuyahoga County Library Southeast Branch
70 COlumbus Road
Bedford, OH 44146
(440) 439-4997

Hours: Feb. 23 – 2:00 p.m.
Price: Free

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “Jazz speaks for life.” Learn about the jazz and other music behind the Civil Rights Movement when Michael Strasser, Professor of Musicology at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, presents a musical perspective of the era. Hear the songs that changed the world and inspired a generation. Pre-registration is necessary. Call (216) 447-0160.

Related: Best Art Museums In Cleveland

Mark Horning is a freelance writer covering all things Cleveland. His work can be found on

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