KC Observes Black History Month

Area attractions celebrate black history this month, all year long.

From the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association, all across the city, schools and businesses take time to recognize the contributions of African-Americans this month. Even though February is designated as National Black History Month, several area attractions celebrate the contributions of African-Americans all year long. Below is list of special celebrations this month and on-going exhibits that commemorate KC’s black history.

Special Exhibits

Feb. 13 – 24, Kansas City Public Library

• “Freedom Seekers: Stories from the Western Underground Railroad,” documentary by local filmmaker Gary Jenkins

• Blair Kerkhoff: NAIA Basketball & the Civil Rights, discussion led by The Kansas City Star sports reporter

•  “Freedom is Now,” A documentary on Freedom, Inc., KC’s pioneering African-American political organization by Emiel Cleaver

• Tommy Terrific’s Wacky Magic Show, for ages 4 and up, honoring the Tuskegee Airmen

The library has black history programs for all ages. For times and branches go to www.kcpl.org.

Feb. 15, Penn Valley Community College

• Reflections from the Local Civil Rights Front. Panel presentation about the Civil Rights Movement activities in KC from those who participated.  More info at 816-604-4206.

National Archives at Kansas City

• Feb. 15 – “Pendleton Heights: Then and Now,” a public lecture taking an in-depth look and analysis into the city’s first suburb and its historic architecture, 6:30 p.m.

• Feb. 22 – “On Slavery’s Border,” public lecture, includes discussion and signing of Diane Mutti Burke’s book, 6:30 p.m. More information on both lectures at 816-268-8000.

• Through April 28 – “Divided Loyalties: Civil War Documents from the Missouri State Archives.” This traveling exhibit displays 40 original documents that include two 1850s-era sale bills for slaves. This exhibit also reveals how the issue of slavery split Missouri’s population, resulting in deep-seated tension and opposition in government, business, military and social life. www.archives.gov/central-plains

Feb. 22 – March 4, Coterie Theater

Freedom Sisters: Stamping, Shouting and Singing Home, a play about prejudice during the Civil Rights movement and how youth took action to stand up for themselves.  For showtimes and pricing, go to www.coterietheatre.org.

All Year Long

American Jazz Museum

Located in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District in Kansas City, this is the place where jazz masters such as Charlie Parker, Count Basie and hundreds of others defined the sounds of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. The museum includes interactive exhibits and educational programs. www.americanjazzmuseum.com

Black Archives of Mid-America

Collections, educational programs, research services and special projects facilitate preservation of history of African-Americans in the Midwest www.blackarchives.org

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Kemper at the Crossroads

.Chakaia Booker’s sculpture El Gato is currently on view at the Kemper at the Crossroads. The sculpture is created from her signature source material, black rubber tires. Harlem Renaissance painter Romare Bearden’s watercolor and collage work, Evening Lamp, is part of the current exhibition The Big Reveal at the main museum. Also displayed at the Kemper is acclaimed painter Frederick James Brown’s two larger-than-life works, They Had the Right to Sing the Blues and The History of Art, a series of 110 paintings depicting art history through time on view at Café Sebastienne. www.kemperart.org

Mutual Musicians Foundation

Located in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District, the Foundation was originally home to the Black Musicians’ Protective Union Local 627 American Federation of Musicians., This national historic landmark hosts fierce late-night jam sessions, midnight-6 a.m., Fri.-Sat. www.thefoundationjamson.org

National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial

The exhibit showcases  African-American men serving in cavalry, infantry, signal, medical, engineer and artillery units, as well as serving as chaplains, surveyors, truck drivers, chemists and intelligence officers and African-American women who were employed in a number of war industries, including munitions production. www.theworldwar.org

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

The 10,000 square-foot multimedia exhibit chronicles the history and heroes of the Negro Leagues from their origin after the Civil War to their demise in the 1960s. www.nlbm.com

Quindaro Ruins

Located on the Missouri River, Quindaro began as a boomtown and evolved into a stop on the Underground Railroad. Artifacts are on display at the Wyandotte County Museum. www.wycokck.org

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The museum’s acclaimed African collection comprises approximately 300 objects that are diverse in form and in media. Masks, sculptures, hair combs, headrests, textiles and vessels are among the many types of works represented; media include fiber, metal, wood, beads and clay. www.nelson-atkins.org

KC Studio

KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

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