February is National Black History Month, and Seattle has a lot to celebrate. The region's black population began in the mid-1800s when a small group of black pioneers settled in the city. Within a century, African-Americans were the largest minority group in the city. The city's black history is rich and colorful and includes a visit by Dr. Martin Luther King in 1961 and the desegregation of schools in the city 1978 – one of the largest such efforts to happen in the country without the court stepping in.
There are numerous opportunities for families to learn about the role African-Americans have played in settling and growing the Northwest region and the country throughout February. No matter what your race or background, it's a great time to time to teach your kids some of the rich and textured history once left out of school history books.
The Seattle Channel is airing a collection of videos highlighting local African-Americans and their culture. The channel will air 26 videos in all, including a video about the development of the Langston Hughes Center and the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas' staged reading of Martin Luther King Jr.`s landmark speech in which he called the United States government, "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." To view the videos go to The Seattle Channel.
The Northwest African American Museum, located at 2300 S. Massachusetts St. in Seattle, offers free admission every first and second Thursday of the month. On Thursday, Feb. 24 at 11 a.m., Eva Abram will portray Nettie Craig Asberry, a black woman from Tacoma who was known for her work in fighting racism and in helping to open doors for women. This presentation is recommended for ages 11 and up. To attend RSVP to Katie Williams: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-518-6000, ext. 104.
The museum is now partnering with Swedish Medical Center to present the exhibit "Checking Our Pulse." The exhibit focuses on health in the local African American community. It will share the stories and achievements of African American medical professionals and probe the realities of critical health issues impacting the Black community in the Puget Sound. The show runs through June 5.
The panel discussion "The Race Factor: Perspectives on Leadership" will take place Feb. 16 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Bertha Knight Landes Room of Seattle City Hall. During this event African American civic leaders will share their perspectives on achieving goals and answer questions about their careers, leadership needs in our community and more. This event is recommended for high school students or those interested in civic engagement.
The Ethnic Heritage Art Gallery will show the exhibit "Remember the Time" through March 31. The gallery is located in the Seattle Municipal Tower at 700 Fifth Ave. The show focuses on the theme of the passage of time and includes works by local artists Cyreeta Mitchel, Fasika Moges, Eddie Smith, Kimisha Turner, Elmore Williams Jr., Carletta Carington Wilson and Inye Wokoma.
On Saturday Feb. 26 the Freedom Socialist Party will host a Black History Month Community Forum at New Freeway Hall in Seattle (5018 Rainier Avenue S). The forum topic will be "The FBI's war on the Black Panther Party: The fight is not over!" and will feature Eddie Conway, former Minister of Defense of the Baltimore Black Panther Party, Elmer Dixon who helped organize the Black Students Union at Garfield High School, and activist Megan Cornish. A smoked turkey dinner prepared by Jones BBQ will be served at p.m. for a $10 donation. Cost of attending the forum is $3. For more information go to http://www.facebook.com/FSPseattle or call 206-722-2453.
For more events and educational opportunities during Black History Month, check with your child's school or with your local Seattle Public Library.