February marks a month of endless exhibits of excellence! Serving as Black History Month, February presents phenomenal opportunities for education, entertainment, and engagement. Furthermore, it exists as an integral vehicle of awareness and transformation. During Black History Month 2020, we are able to pay homage to the sacrifices of a grueling past, ponder the progress of our present, and determine how we will commit ourselves to paving an even greater future. This month, challenge yourself to engage in these extraordinary opportunities. Gather information, give space to diversity, and embrace every available instance of growth. The expansion of our city lies in the expansion of our minds, and throughout Black History Month Huntsville offers several opportunities for both visitors and locals to join in the celebration.
Take a Tour
SceneThat Walking Tours allows you to stand in the shadows and walk along the footsteps of significant civil rights events that occurred in Downtown Huntsville, Alabama. Learn the events and the places where civil rights history was made. This two mile walk begins in the Medical District and ends along the Church Street Corridor.The 90 minute tour makes five stops and discusses over 10 significant places and events. From the first public school to integrate in the state to the location where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke, this guided tour will help you enrich your historical knowledge.
A self guided option is also available online. Accessible via smartphone app, the Rocket City Civil Rights Driving Tour highlights areas of significance to the civil rights era in Huntsville. See sites like the Fifth Avenue School, the first public school in the state of Alabama to integrate, Oakwood University, where Dr. Martin Luther King spoke during his visit to Huntsville in 1962, and other points of interest rich in cultural heritage. The tour was created in partnership by the Alabama Humanities Foundation and the Historic Huntsville Foundation, with a mission to capture, document, and share oral histories of the successful, non-violent civil rights movement in Huntsville, Alabama.
See an Exhibit
*Updated with 2020 Information
Stop by the Huntsville Museum of Art for their exhibit: Harlem, Hollywood, Broadway: African American Legends Photographed by Jack Mitchell. The exhibit is up through March 22nd. If you visit on Thursdays at night, you can enter the museum for their $5 after 5pm program.
Harlem, Hollywood, Broadway presents 36 vintage black-and-white and color photographs of important African American artists and performers captured by Mitchell between 1961 and 2001. Mitchell had a special relationship with the African American creative community, and photographed most of its most prominent members during his career.
On February 22nd, celebrate African American history at Burritt on the Mountain with their program: “Forward from Slavery”: Stories of the Underground Railroad, Buffalo Soldiers, and Rosenwald Schools.
The day will begin with an interactive Underground Railroad field trip presentation. Then learn about the Buffalo Soldiers that came to Huntsville October 1898. Learn how they became soldiers, what they ate, medical treatment, where they served around the world, and then meet a special Buffalo Soldier from the time. Finally spend some time in our Rosenwald School by experiencing a school day in 1918. Learn how our pledge of allegiance was said, then how they learned their lessons with no electricity, indoor plumbing, no heat, no air conditioning, and no computers. This will be a day of fun and learning you will not forget. Plan to spend the day or pick and choose to participate in some of the activities. This event is free to members or regular admissions rates apply.
Participate in a Discussion
On February 18th at University of Alabama at Huntsville's campus is the Past, Present, and Future: A Black History Month Discussion.
This FREE event will begin with a presentation by Sonnie Hereford IV as he shares his story as the first African-American to integrate a public school for whites in Alabama when he enrolled at Fifth Avenue School in Huntsville. A panel of black business owners from the Huntsville area will then discuss what types of business and social changes they have experienced within the Huntsville business community, and what they hope to see in the future.
Helpful hints for making the most of Black History Month in Huntsville
Remember that learning is life-long! It is impossible to confine the rich history of Black Americans to the parameters of one month. Allow these events to catalyze within you a greater level of curiosity, a deeper appreciation for cultural heritage and diversity, and an enhanced desire for inclusivity across all spectrums.
Other ways to celebrate Black History Month in the Rocket City
There are plenty of ways to celebrate African American heritage year round in Huntsville. Stroll through historic Glenwood Cemetery, pay your respects at the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial, and take in the stunning, life-like portraiture of African Americans at the Weeden House Museum and Garden.
For more information on multicultural events in Huntsville, follow along with the City of Huntsville Multicultural Affairs Office.
Know of other Black History Month events happening in Huntsville? Share in the comments!