Celebrate Black History Month With These Cultural Happenings in San Francisco
San Francisco will celebrate Black History Month with an exciting slate of events to commemorate the contributions of African-Americans within our city, across our nation, and throughout our history, beginning Feb. 1. Plan ahead, purchase tickets, and gather your friends to take part in all of the excitement here in San Francisco and the East Bay. If your calendar is already looking full, don't worry; you can plan an excursion of your own to experience San Francisco's African-American culture any time of year.
EXHIBITIONS & CONVERSATIONS
African-American Art & Culture Complex (762 Fulton St.)
Visitors on their way to capture an iconic photo of the famous Painted Ladies on Steiner St. should not miss a visit to the African-American Art & Culture Complex, a vital resource for the African/African-American community and San Francisco arts and culture community. The facility houses an art gallery and three art exhibitions spaces, a 203-seat theater, a recording studio, library and archives of African-American history, two dance studios and other multi-purpose space. On view through March 24 are a series of Kristine Mays' sculptures, "Brutally Soft," which captures the femininity and strength of women through wire sculptures inspired by black female authors like Maya Angelou and Nayyirah Waheed.
California Historical Society (678 Mission St.)
On Feb. 12, join the California Historical Society to discuss the history of California African-American comic book artists from Morris Turner, the first nationally syndicated African American cartoonist, to Ryan Coogler, director of "Fruitvale Station" and "Black Panther". Watch independent filmmaker Susheel Bibbs' award-winning documentary screening on Feb. 26 highlighting the Hyers Sisters musical legacy during the 1870s and how opera broke down barriers for African-American musicals.
City Hall (1 Dr. Carlton B Goodlett Pl.)
The Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services will host a Black History Month Kick-off Event on Friday, Feb. 1 from 12 to 1 p.m. at San Francisco City Hall's Rotunda. Later in the month on Feb. 26, the Board of Supervisors' Black History Month celebration will take place at City Hall from 5-10 .p.m. Community leaders will be in attendance at both celebrations.
Museum of the African Diaspora (685 Mission St.)
Among the special events at the Museum of the African Diaspora is an audiovisual presentation on Feb. 20, "All Your Favorite Music is (Probably) Black," by San Francisco-native Mark Montgomery French. It reveals African-Americans' cultural invisibility within the music they helped define. On Feb. 23, the second annual day-long symposium, "Black Refractions: Selections from the Studio Museum in Harlem," will take place. Keynote speakers include curator Naima Keith and writer Aruna D'Souza, who will share insights around artists of African descent and art as an agent of social change.
Oakland Museum of California (1000 Oak St.)
On Feb. 13-15 and 20-22, Black History Month at the Oakland Museum of California acknowledges a history of oppression and celebrates the dreams and contributions of African-Americans through performances by K-8th graders. Students will also get a chance to learn how music is an effective way to communicate between people and cultures.
San Francisco Art Institute (800 Chestnut St.)
Get an inside look at a photographic essay of the 1960s Black Panther movement captured by Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones. "Vanguard Revisited: Poetic Politics & Black Futures" is a series of photographs highlighting social activism and how the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s manifests itself in the social context of today. This year's exhibition will coincide with the 50 year anniversary of its original exhibition at the de Young Museum in 1969 and is a free exhibit for all. On view now through Apr. 7.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (900 Beach St.)
Sing along with park rangers to African-American and Caribbean-based maritime work songs and discover how enslaved people escaped to freedom during two ranger-led programs, "Chanteys: The African-American and Caribbean Connection" and "From Slaves to Seamen: The Voyage to Freedom" on Feb. 23. Throughout the month of February, you can also view a series of rare photographs of African-American and Caribbean officers, sailors, cooks, and shipbuilders in the photographic exhibit "African Americans in the Maritime Trades."
San Francisco Public Library (100 Larkin St.)
The San Francisco Public Library champions black history and culture with special music, dance, crafts and storytelling events at every branch in the city. “More Than a Month” features film screenings and literary events for adults, interactive events for teens and hands-on activities for all ages. For full details visit www.sfpl.org/more-than-a-month.
American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary St.)
From Feb. 15 to Mar. 31, join A.C.T's Strand Theater for the powerful drama, "Her Portmanteau," which explores the bonds and challenges faced by a Nigerian family living in the United States. The story about a first-generation Nigerian-American woman raising a family in the U.S. serves as an empowering tale and reminder that many Americans often share a common origin story.
The Black Choreographers Festival: Here & Now 15th Anniversary (Various Locations)
Devoted to emerging artists, the Black Choreographers Festival celebrates 15 years of African and African-American dance and culture, featuring award-winning Bay Area choreographers and companies. Performances: Feb. 16-17 and Feb. 23-24 at Dance Mission Theater (3316 24th St.), Mar. 2-3 at SAFEhouse Arts (145 Eddy St.), and March 9-10 at Laney College Theater (900 Fallon St., Oakland). All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.
EXPLORE & TOUR
The African-American Freedom Trail (Various Locations)
The African-American Freedom Trail tells how African-American pioneers in San Francisco changed the world. Learn from Oxford University Press historian John William Templeton about the legacies of great African-American figures such as Capt. William Alexander Leidesdorff, Mary Ellen Pleasant, Sargent Johnson and Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett. Tours are offered almost daily of the California African-American Freedom Trailduring February.
Black History at Oracle Park (24 Willie Mays Plaza)
Baseball fans and non-sports fans alike can celebrate Black History Month right outside of Oracle Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants and hall of famers like Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. Visitors will be welcomed with a nine-foot bronze sculpture of Willie Mays at the entrance of Oracle Park and can stroll along McCovey Cove to find another larger-than-life sized statue of Willie McCovey. If you're curious to explore the ins and outs of Oracle Park, you can take a behind-the-scenes ballpark tour, offered daily.
San Francisco Ghost Hunt Walking Tour (Various Locations)
Award-winning magician, storyteller, Bay Area native, and original co-creator of the tour Christian Cagigal leads visitors through Pacific Heights, starting at the Healing Arts Center (1801 Bush St.). Among the people and historic events he talks about is Mary Ellen Pleasant, considered by some to be “The Mother of Human Rights in California” because of her work on the Underground Railroad and her support of John Brown. Tours are offered Wednesday-Sunday at 7 p.m. from Feb. 1-Oct. 30.
Take a Tour of the Bayview Opera House (4705 3rd St.)
Originally constructed in 1888, the Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre (BVOH) is one of oldest cultural buildings in San Francisco and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Situated along the Third Street commercial corridor, BVOH became an official Cultural Center of San Francisco in 1990 and has served as the focal point for art and culture in the Bayview by providing accessible, diverse, and high-quality arts education, cultural programs and community events in a safe environment.
Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (750 Howard St.)
Located at Yerba Buena Gardens is the United States' second largest Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial. Visitors will find photos and quotes etched in glass panels that represents important moments in civil rights history, as well as a 50-foot-wide cascading waterfall commemorating the civil rights leader.