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Connections and Coffee

Black History Month Celebrates the Arts

February is Black History Month and the 2024 theme is African American art. According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the theme reflects art “infused with African, Caribbean and the Black American lived experience.” The association is providing a virtual experience for its 98th annual Black History Month Festival and will celebrate the theme of African Americans and the arts in the past, present and future for the entire month.

Art has the power to convey complex narratives, express emotions and provoke thought, making it an effective tool for honoring the richness and diversity of Black experiences. Additionally, integrating the arts into Black History Month festivities can help foster dialogue, inspire change and promote inclusivity by highlighting the contributions of Black artists, storytellers and visionaries throughout history.

In other words, the arts provide a potent platform for expressing culture, affirming identity and articulating individual experiences and hurdles.

The National Museum of African American History & Culture is honoring art as a platform for social justice by “highlighting the ’art of resistance’ and the artists who used their crafts to uplift the race, speak truth to power and inspire a nation.”

The museum is encouraging the public to lift their voices and share graphics and suggested captions to raise awareness with the hashtag #BlackHistoryMonth.

Locally, the East Lansing Public Library is providing general recommendations with a staff-created list of good reads.

Michigan State University’s James Madison College is hosting its second annual Black History Month Symposium on Feb. 7 with Michigan Supreme Court Justice Kyra H. Bolden speaking at Case Hall.

Lansing Community College is hosting its annual Malcom X Symposium Feb. 26 at in the Michigan Room and will feature a variety of art forms.

The Lansing Charter Academy is hosting a gallery walk, Black-owned business fairs and more on Feb. 26.

You can celebrate Black History Month by reading books by Black authors, learning about noteworthy Black artists and visiting Black history museums, to name a few.

An article by independent media organization Good Good Good reminds us to be intentional in celebrating: “Although we certainly don’t need an awareness holiday to embrace and honor Black history, this month is an opportunity to reconcile with the past, pave the way for a more just future and celebrate all the amazing figures who have taken their place in the annals of Black History.”

For resources about Black History and the Arts, follow the links below:

The Black Music History Library

The National Gallery of Art

Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute