Black History Month Activities

By: Sara Aldridge

Metro Detroit Black History Month Events 2021

It’s undeniable that Detroit plays an integral part in the narrative and legacy of the rich history of African-Americans. From the Underground Railroad (Detroit was often the last stop for slaves to freedom) to Martin Luther King Jr. reciting his first version of his infamous “ I Have a Dream” speech at TCF Center (formerly Cobo Hall) to being at the nucleus of many art scenes especially music from Motown to jazz to techno. February is a time to honor the achievements, successes and heritage of African-Americans throughout history. 

We’ve compiled a list of Black History events in Detroit and the Metro area for you and your family. Whether you’re looking to visit a museum, find an idea for the foodie in your life, read an educational book that touches on Black history with your kids or have a movie marathon with some popcorn and pizza we’ve got you covered. Due to the pandemic a number of the events are virtual, but we’ve included a number of events that you can attend safely in person to celebrate this historic month, nationally celebrated since 1976. 

How To Learn and Celebrate Black History Month From Home

For those looking to participate in Black History month from the comfort of their own homes this year we suggest checking out these upcoming virtual events:

  • The Detroit Institute of Arts is hosting an extensive number of events throughout the month and is a must when looking for all age events. Every Wednesday at 6:30pm they will be hosting a weekly food and drink demonstration series called Wind Down Wednesdays: A Celebration of African American Chefs and Mixologists. The event will highlight a local Black chef and a mixologist who will prepare their favorite meal and complimentary cocktails.  Each duo demonstration will be followed by a live virtual “deep dive” conversation and Q&A. The DIA is also offering artist demonstrations for seniors, virtual panel talks and more! In addition, the physical museum is open (check their website for hours and COVID-19 policies) and has an extensive collection of African Art sure to enthrall kids of all ages.  To learn more visit their website at Detroit Institute of Art.
  • The Redford Township District Library is hosting a poster contest throughout the month with the theme The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity. Registration opens February 1st. Contest submissions are due February 27 and can be submitted via email to [email protected] or in person in their lobby. Amazon gift card prizes for the winners of multiple age categories from grade K to Adult.
  • Oakland University, located in Auburn Hills, is hosting a number of events from virtual panel talks to educational forums on diversity in the workplace. Learn more here: Oakland University Black History Month 2021 Events 
  • The Charles H Wright Museum of African American History is your go-to for all things Black History Month. Events include a weekly virtual series featuring performers with the Detroit Association of Black Storytellers; a Black film series that will show the riveting 13th, Hidden Figures, and more; a virtual discussion that will focus on Black fashion during the Harlem Renaissance with designers Shawna McGee and Leonard Davis; and a virtual speaking event for kids (ages 8-18) that gives them the chance to express their thoughts on equality and Afrofuturism. Learn more about these events and others on the museum’s website. 
  • Detroit Experience Factory, a local non-profit, is offering three virtual tours related to Black history on Feb. 6th, 9th and 23rd. Topics include Black Joy and Inspiration in Detroit,  A Short History of Racism in Detroit which will discuss redlining, and the Innovation and Inspiration: Black Art and Artists. Donations are accepted for “practically free tickets.”.
  • The Black owned Pages Bookshop will host a virtual discussion of Rochelle Riley, director of Arts and Culture for the city of Detroit, recently published book “That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed the World”.The event is free and takes place on Feb. 11. Guests can register online.
  • Grab some popcorn and a cozy blanket and organize a family film night. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime all have a bounty of relevant and engaging films for all ages. Some suggestions include: “Selma”, “I Am Not Your Negro”, “Loving”, “Harriet”, and for the history lover,  the six hour miniseries “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross”. In addition, through February many of these platforms have a dedicated categories highlighting Black films available for streaming.
  • On Tuesdays in February from 10:30am-11am the Sterling Heights Public Library will host a virtual storytime for preschoolers and toddlers focusing on books highlighting the Black experience. We also suggest checking out Book Riot’s list of 100 Best Children’s Books For African American History Month and then either purchasing from a Black owned bookstore like Source Booksellers, Detroit Book City in Southfield, Blackstone Bookstore located in Ann Arbor, or borrow from your local library. 
  • Looking to stretch out those muscles after being curled up on the couch all day? Check out a virtual  yoga class with Yoganic Flow whose mission is to make yoga accessible in the urban community. Classes for all ages and experience. 
Jim Shaffer and Associates - Metro Detroit’s Black History Month Activity List - exterior photo of the Charles H Wright Museum of African American History
photo courtesy of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Local Places To Check Out For Black History Month

If you’re heading out to attend a Black History Month event on our list and need a pre or post cocktail or snack we’ve got you covered!  Luckily, in Detroit and the surrounding area there is no shortage of incredible eats from Black owned restaurants that highlight the cuisine of the culture and countries many African Americans originate from and beyond! Food is one the easiest and in depth ways to get to know a culture and learn its history.Take a look at some of the restaurants and pop-ups on the top of our list to support this month…and after! 

  •  Taste the Diaspora Detroit  who, throughout the month of February will help Metro Detroiter’s celebrate the cuisines of the African Diaspora through a culinary storytelling experience. Nearly 20 Black restaurants and farmers will collaborate to create weekly diaspora themed dishes from African, Creole, Caribbean, and the American Southern. Each meal will be priced at $25 and sold to the community as a shoebox lunch and include a QR code that provides access to the initiative’s website, a Black business finder website, and the stories behind the shoebox lunches, as well as other Black food history, like the Black Panther Party’s free for children breakfast program.
  • Ima, with locations in Madison Heights and Detroit offer some of the best udon and ramen around. They are offering 10% online orders until February 14th with the code 𝗧𝗛𝗔𝗡𝗞𝗦𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟭 𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸𝗼𝘂𝘁. 
  • Beans and Cornbread in Southfield offers a traditional Black southern menu from collard greens and black eyed peas to fried catfish.
  • Ivy Kitchen and Cocktail, the Black, woman owned restaurant and bar on the Eastside of Detroit, offers everything from Mezcal wings to shrimp bruschetta.
  • Black owned,Le Crepe, in Royal Oak, not only offers vegan and gluten free options of the French staple, but salads, soups and more.
  • Flavors of Jamaica in Pontiac offers carryout out and delivery through DoorDash and features authentic Jamaican and Caribbean fare.
  • Serving Detroit since 1970, Louisiana Creole Gumbo celebrates classic southern fare like Shrimp Po Boys to Red Beans and Rice. They offer online ordering and delivery.
  • For the beer lover, located in Ypsilanti, 734 Brewing, aims to  “extend the reach of great beer to forgotten communities while making quality accessible to all”. They also craft spirits under the name Nostalgie .

How to Spend Your Dollar to Support Black Makers

For the die hard shopper we’ve even included a few ideas on how to spend your dollar this Black History Month and support and celebrate local Black makers and entrepreneurs throughout the Metro Detroit area.  There is an abundance of brick and mortars as well as online destinations to check out! This is just a list of a few of our favorites! 

  • Detroit Is The New Black, located on Woodward in the heart of Detroit, offer clothing and accessories for women, men and kids.
  • Bath Savvy, offers natural handmade bath products like whipped body butter, bath bombs, and sugar scrubs delectable scents like Fresh Cut Lemongrass, Pomegranate Mango, and White Ginger
  • Featured on Buzzfeed, Forbes, and the Today Show The Lip Bar, based in Detroit, but has become a nationally recognized brand creates vegan and cruelty free make-up for all complexions. Check out their website for more and to purchase
  • Since 1946, Mays Media has been offering the Metro Detroit area printing services and more. This family owned business also offers website and publishing services as well

It’s evident there is no shortage of Black History events and businesses to help illuminate the diverse and distinct history and culture of Black Americans near and far this February. Whether you decide to spend your dollar at a Black owned business, curl up with a cup of coffee and devour a book about Black history or current events affecting African and Black communities, visit one of many museums offering enthralling program for kids young and old, or dine on cuisine from one of many locally Black owned restaurants, we’re sure that the experience will be a genuinely enriching experience for you and your family alike. 

You will also love these articles:

Plan Your 2021 Valentine’s Day
38 Spots for Igloo Dining in Metro Detroit
20 Fun Family Activities to Do In a Pandemic