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's arts and culture community. The facility houses an art gallery and three exhibition spaces, a 203-seat theater, a recording studio, library and archives of African-American history, two dance studios and other multi-purpose space. On Feb. 13, catch the documentary film premier of "African Americans and the Vote," which captures the limited suffrage and discrimination African Americans have historically faced.
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. 7 from 12 to 1 p.m. at San Francisco City Hall's Rotunda. This kick-off celebration will highlight Black History Month 2020's theme, "African Americans & The Vote: The Movement Lives On". Elected officials and community leaders will be in attendance and will have inspirations keynote speeches to commemorate this month-long celebration.
On Feb. 20, 2020, celebrate Black History Month with free admission and extended hours to some of San Francisco's top museums and arts institutions. Participating organizations will present exhibitions and programming that focuses on the importance of African American art, culture, and history. Culture for Community partners include The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD), California Historical Society, 111 Minna Gallery, Children's Creativity Museum, and others.
de Young Museum (50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr.)
On view throughout the month of February at the de Young Museum is "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power," an internationally acclaimed exhibition that celebrates the works of African American artists created during two pivotal decades in American history (1963-1983). Featuring more than 150 works by more than 60 African American artists who are closely connected to the San Francisco Bay Area, "Soul of a Nation" aims to inspire individuals and communities to continue the conversation about being an agent of change. Various talks and film screenings will also take place at the de Young Museum in honor of Black History Month.
Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) (685 Mission St.)
Among the special events at the Museum of the African Diaspora is a four-week film series in conjunction with "Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite," beginning on Feb. 5, 2020. This film series focuses on how the Black Pride movement manifested in fashion and in jazz and soul music. On Feb. 22, the third annual day-long symposium, "Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite," will take place. The symposium begins with a keynote address by chair of the Dept. of Photography & Imaging at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Dr. Deborah Willis, followed by inspiring panel discussions from various artists and writers.
National LGBTQ Center for the Arts (170 Valencia St.)
Be there for the inaugural event of the new "Behind the Curtain" series at the National LGBTQ Center for the Arts on Feb. 23. Cast members from "Hamilton" will share personal journeys and stories about what it means to be LGBTQ performers or men/women of color in a Broadway show. The discussion will be moderated by San Francisco Chronicle's arts and culture reporter Tony Bravo.
Oakland Museum of California (1000 Oak St.)
On Feb. 12-14 and 19-21, 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.
Presidio Theatre (99 Moraga Ave.)
Presidio Theatre will show their new documentary film, "Film + Talk: No Time to Waste" on Feb. 22. This documentary celebrates 98-year-old legendary national park ranger Betty Reid Soskin, who still actively presents her unique perspective on American history to visitors at Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. The film examines Soskin's mission to restore critical missing chapters of America's story. This event will kick of the 20th Anniversary celebration for Rosie the Riveter National Park.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (151 Third St.)
"Dawoud Bey: An American Project", the first major retrospective of photographer Dawoud Bey in 25 years, opens to the public on Feb. 15. This exhibition at SFMOMA showcases Bey's earliest bodies of work, such as "Harlem, U.S.A.", as well as more recent photography and video projects that explore landscapes as sites of memory to evoke African-American history. His art emphasizes the necessary work of artists and art institutions to break down obstacles to convene communities and open dialogue.
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 more than 80 film screenings and literary events, interactive events for teens and hands-on activities for all ages. For full details visit www.sfpl.org/more-than-a-month.
SFJAZZ Family Matinee
On Feb. 15, join SFJAZZ for a family matinee with bassist, bandleader, and SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director, Marcus Shelby. Family Matinees are one-hour live performances that encourage audience participation, a Q&A session and powerful songs of freedom that shaped the Civil Rights Movement. Join Shelby on a journey of soulful discovery of the blues.
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 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 during 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 tour co-creator 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 8 p.m. from Feb. 1-Apr. 26.
Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (750 Howard St.)
At Yerba Buena Gardens, you'll find 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.