February is Black History Month and since 1976 every residing president has recognized a specific theme. In 2021, the theme “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States (History.com).
As you make plans to celebrate the achievements of African Americans by recognizing their central role in U.S. history, here are various ways one can observe the month-long celebration in Fort Worth.
Committed to producing theatrical works that gives a voice to the African American experience, Jubilee Theatre is the original African American theater in North Texas. Though in-person performances are on hiatus due to the pandemic, Jubilee Theatre is available to fans online.
Stream HooDoo Love by Katori Hall January 29 – February 28 via Vimeo. The performance follows the life and challenges of an aspiring blues singer in 1930s Memphis. The show is available for rent for 48-hours and costs $20.
The Dock Bookshop
The recent focus of our monthly Spotlight blog, The Dock Bookshop is the largest African American owned full-service bookstore in Texas and the Southwest. Filled with books, gifts, greeting cards, novelty items and more, the shop is also a community gathering spot that welcomes all backgrounds to join documentary and film discussions, book clubs, book reviews to name a few.
Kick off Black History Month with a review of Dick Gregory's "No More Lies: The Myth and Reality of American History" and "Defining Moments in History: Reading Between the Lines." The virtual discussion will occur on February 1 at 7 p.m. Reserve your spot here.
Additional events include: A Documentary Film & Discussion with Bayer Mack about the film "Black Seeds: The History of Africans in America" on February 8, and A Conversation with Matt Sandler about his book “The Black Romantic Revolution: Abolitionist Poets at the End of Slavery” on February 15.
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is home to exquisite artworks from revered Black artists like Kehinde Wiley, Mark Bradford, Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Lorna Simpson. Works from Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Takashi Murakami and KAWS also adorn the walls.
View the newest acquisition The Seated III, 2019, a large sculpture of a seated female figure entwined in bronze coils, now on view in the first pavilion gallery. The artist Wangechi Mutu was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, and now divides her time between there and Brooklyn. Her interest in caryatids is centered around the carved bodies of strong women that are incorporated into many traditions of classical African sculpture. They include the royal staffs of the Kingdom of Luba from Central Africa, the holy stools of the Yoruba kings, the figures of mothers in Makonde ritual stools, and many others (The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The Met).
Join the Modern virtually on Saturday, February 13, from 10-11 a.m. for “Listening for a Change: Podcast-Based Discussions with Dev’n Goodman.” January’s discussion centered around two podcasts: Black History for White People, "Redlining" and Code Switch, “A Tale of Two School Districts.” The February event will focus on The Duality of Activism with podcasts Making Gay History, “Bayard Rustin” and BackStory, “Fighting Jane Crow: The Multifaceted Life and Legacy of Pauli Murray” in the spotlight.
The Museum requests those interested in joining please email them.
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art celebrates 60 years in 2021. The museum’s collection explores the diversity and complexity of American creativity and is free for all to enjoy.
On February 18, visitors with early-stage dementia and their caregivers are invited to connect with artworks in a virtual social setting through hands-on activities at home, story times and experiences. February’s class will focus on Black History Month and various pieces throughout the permanent collection. Learn more about Virtual Artful Moments and how to register here.
Fort Worth Opera: A Night of Black Excellence – Past, Present & Future
The Fort Worth Opera is the longest running opera company in Texas and the 16th in the nation. In 2020, it appointed native Texan Afton Battle to the role of General Director. Battle is one of two black female opera company general directors today.
The Opera’s celebration of Black History Month is “long overdue and appropriate in this time” according to Battle. A star-studded virtual event scheduled for February 21 – sponsored by Tarrant County Pearls Chapter, The Society, Incorporated and hosted by WFAA's Tashara Parker – will feature internationally renowned opera singers Nicole Heaston, Latonia Moore, Kenneth Overton, Karen Slack, Kevin Thompson, plus many more. Learn more and purchase tickets here.
Self-Guided African American History Tour
In partnership with the Fort Worth Black Chamber of Commerce, Visit Fort Worth unveiled a Self-Guided African American History Tour spotlighting various historical sites, neighborhoods, churches, figures and more. Explore and learn more here.
National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum
The National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum and Hall of Fame serves to recognize the outstanding pioneers who played a role in settling the early American western frontier. Many drovers (cowboys) that herded cattle to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail were African American. These trailblazers are often overlooked in historical presentations and the museum’s collection of journals, photographs and other historical items document the complete story.
Plan a visit to see this remarkable collection for yourself (currently closed to due to COVID) followed by a visit to watch the Fort Worth Herd drive the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive in the Fort Worth Stockyards at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Heritage Plaque
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a sermon in a theater that once stood on Commerce Street in Downtown Fort Worth in 1959. To memorialize this occasion, The City of Fort Worth unveiled a memorial plaque in General Worth Square adjacent from the Fort Worth Convention Center.
The marker is part of the Heritage Trails Walking Tour, with 26 other bronze markers depicting the city's history, and is well worth a visit.