Where to commemorate Black History Month

Local events spotlight citizens who've had a profound influence locally, nationally and around the world.

Posted by Julie Garisto on Sun, Feb 16, 2014 at 4:20 PM

ICONIC: Randall Davey's Portrait of Paul Robeson (about 1920-1925), oil on canvas. - MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • ICONIC: Randall Davey's Portrait of Paul Robeson (about 1920-1925), oil on canvas.
Textbooks often overlook the contributions of African-Americans to our culture, so take advantage of events planned throughout the Bay area to honor and commemorate black citizens who've had a profound influence locally, nationally and around the world.

MFA Black History Month Art and Educational Programming Narrated by Ossie Davis, the American Masters film Paul Robeson — Here I Stand can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts this Sunday and offers an expansive view of the African-American singer and actor who became involved with the Civil Rights Movement. The doc includes stories about controversies surrounding his activism and contains footage of Robeson and interviews with people who knew him, including his son. Prominent works by African-American artists will also be on display, including Randall Davey's portrait of Robeson, one of the most impressive portraits in MFA's collection. Davey’s painting (circa 1920-1925) was once in the collection of conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein, also a civil rights advocate. A poetic, fluid mixed-media work (1987) by Raymond Saunders is premiering this month alongside works by Edward Mitchell Bannister, Bill Traylor, Clementine Hunter, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Lonnie Holley and Missionary Mary Proctor. Free with museum admission. Robeson film is Sun., Feb. 23, 2:30 p.m. Regular admission is $17 for adults, $15 for those 65 and older, and $10 for students seven and older, including college students with current I.D. Children under seven and Museum members are admitted free. 255 Beach Drive N.E., St. Petersburg. 727-896-2667. fine-arts.org.<p>

Above the Fray at HCC-Dale Mabry Much more than a stitch in time, HCC-Dale Mabry’s exhibition helps celebrate the Tampa Black Heritage Festival with handmade quilts by Josephine Burns and Ella Dinkins. The quilters grew up and live in Eatonville, Fla., the town made famous by author Zora Neale Hurston. Through Feb. 27. HCC Dale Mabry Gallery 221, 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa. hccfl.edu/dm/gallery-221-home.aspx.

Burgert Brothers Photos of Tampa Bay African-Americans Take advantage of a community treasure — the library’s Burgert Brothers photo archive collection — and celebrate Black History Month with an exhibit at the Kotler Galley in the John F. Germany Public Library. The exhibit depicts local African-Americans during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Plus, visitors can wander over to the Florida History and Genealogy Department for photos and history of the once thriving Central Avenue business district. For those unfamiliar, the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection presents a unique pictorial record of the commercial, residential and social growth of Tampa Bay and Florida’s West coast from the late 1800s to the early 1960s. Nearly 15,000 images are included in the collection, offering views of citizens at work in cigar factories, at the sponge docks, in strawberry fields, grocery stores, at service stations and in bank lobbies. Many of the photographs also depict a community at leisure, enjoying a day at the beach, participating in local celebrations, attending the Florida State Fair or playing golf, tennis, shuffleboard or checkers. The collection provides an extraordinary connection to the past preserved at the John F. Germany Public Library for the public to view and use. Through Feb. 28. John F. Germany Public Library, 900 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa. 813-273-3652. hcplc.org.

Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle The Plant City Photo Archives is partnering with local community organizations to offer a variety of Created Equal public programs which include film screenings, presentations by scholars, and community discussions. Five upcoming community programs incorporate riveting new footage illustrating the history of the civil rights movement in America. On Tues., Feb. 18, at 7 p.m., The Plant City Photo Archives will host the first public program, opening the series with a screening of excerpts from the first film The Abolitionists. Photo Archives director Gil Gott will introduce the program prior to the film clips. The film vividly brings to life the struggles of the men and women who led the battle to end slavery including: William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Angelina Grimke, Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown. The film’s release in 2013 also marked the 150th anniversary year of the Emancipation Proclamation. Tues., Feb. 18, 7 p.m. Plant City Photo Archives & History Center, 106 S. Evers St., Plant City. 813-754-1578. plantcityphotoarchives.org
Civil and Human Rights Leader Benjamin Todd Jealous to Present at Eckerd College

Former NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous will address faculty, staff, students and members of the public at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20, in Fox Hall on Eckerd’s campus. Sponsored by the College’s Afro-American Society and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Jealous will present “That One Big Thing,” in which he will identify the simple steps that can accelerate anyone toward achieving feats of great social transformation and service. The event in observance of Black History Month is free and open to the public and is part of Eckerd's Presidential Events Series themed "The Human Experience: An Odyssey."

STRAIGHT OUTTA BROOKLYN: Hip-hop industry guru Wes Jackson speaks at Eckerd College Feb. 28. - PUBLICITY PHOTO
  • STRAIGHT OUTTA BROOKLYN: Hip-hop industry guru Wes Jackson speaks at Eckerd College Feb. 28.

The History of Hip-Hop: A Multi-Media Mini Series with Wes Jackson The executive director of The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival and president of Brooklyn Bodega, speaks on Thurs., Feb. 28, 7 p.m., at Eckerd College's Fox Hall. The free lecture, sponsored by the Afro-American Society at Eckerd College, takes listeners from New York’s street gangs in the 1960s to the 2010 New York Times bestseller Decoded by Hip-Hop icon Jay-Z. With more than 20 years' experience as an entrepreneur and innovator in the music business, Jackson's career has been linked to De La Soul, Mos Def, Nas, The Roots, Talib Kweli and others. Under his leadership, the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival is in its seventh year and has grown into the East Coast’s No. 1 hip-hop event that attracts 20,000-plus annually. In addition to his successful business ventures, Wes also serves as a lecturer at the City University of New York. Eckerd College is at 4200 54th Ave. S., St. Petersburg. eckerd.edu.

Louise Graham (1903-1983): A Life Dedicated to Service in St. Petersburg Graham devoted herself to working with intellectually challenged and visually impaired youth and her lives on today, honored in an exhibit on the second floor of Eckerd's Armacost Library throughout the month of February. Eckerd College is at 4200 54th Ave. S., St. Petersburg. eckerd.edu.

The Last Days of Martin Luther King Jr. Written by Alan Bomar Jones — who’s in American Stage’s acclaimed production, Two Trains Running — is a fictional account of the last TV interview of Dr. King. The play centers on him and a hungry journalist, unveiling a side of the revered historical figure the nation never knew. Presented on the Mainstage, and the theater will also provide a full cash bar service. Pay what you can at the door. Suggested donation $10-$20) or $15 advance tickets. Tues., Feb. 18, 8 p.m. American Stage Theatre Company, 163 Third St. N., St Petersburg. 727-823-PLAY (7529). americanstage.org.

LIVING LEGACIES: Taylor and Bessie Rogers record their stories in the StoryCorps Griot trailer. - STORYCORPS
  • StoryCorps
  • LIVING LEGACIES: Taylor and Bessie Rogers record their stories in the StoryCorps Griot trailer.

Our Lives, Our Legacies: The Hillsborough Black Experience Throughout February you can honor of Black History Month with StoryCorps @ your library, which aims to record 28 stories in 28 days. Be part of the history and tell your story. To learn more or schedule an interview, please call 813-273-3652. StoryCorps provides a list of tips to help prepare for your interview. The Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries will retain copies of all interviews and preservation copies, and with participant permission, copies will also be archived at the Library of Congress. storycorps.org.

The Test The Carrollwood Cultural Center tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen first African-American aviators to serve in the military of the United States. Created by artist Jerry Taliaferro, the exhibit, includes wall panels displaying squad members of the who live or are from the Tampa Bay area. Through Feb. 28. Lowell Road, Tampa. carrollwoodcenter.org.


Thurgood Last year marked the 50th Anniversary of the Modern Civil Rights Movement and the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The commemorations are ongoing, so take part with a play based on the life of Justice Thurgood Marshall. The one-man play reflects on Justice Marshall’s childhood, his inner-city adolescence up to his being named to the Supreme Court. On Feb. 27, attend “A Tale of Two Cities: A vivid oral history of Sarasota’s Civil Rights.” $19-$42. Through Feb. 22. Florida Studio Theater, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. 941-366-9000. floridastudiotheatre.org.

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