Welcoming Black History Month

Story by Jorge Paniagua

Feb. 1 marks the first day of Black History Month, a month-long, annual celebration. The nationwide observance serves as a time for communities across the country, regardless of race, to acknowledge the significance of black historical figures as well as the rich history of black people following the African diaspora. Long Beach, which is home to a vibrant black community, is hosting a line-up of events celebrating the importance of African and African-American history and culture that has influenced the world.

Caribbean Heritage: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Thursday, Jan. 31 - Saturday, Feb. 2

Location: Expo Arts Theatre

4321 Atlantic Ave. in Long Beach

Price: Free general admission

Not sure where to kick off Black History Month? Caribbean Heritage serves as the perfect start. This event aims to inform and educate attendees about the contributions black people continue to make across the world. The three-day event features an engaging exhibition titled “Forgotten Images,” feature an array of authentic cultural artifacts dating back as far as the 1600s. Furthermore, the free, multicultural event will offer a variety of panel discussions, guest speakers and musical performances. Not to mention, there will be plenty of authentic soul food provided at different booths. Begin your observance of Black History Month with this event as it strives to depict the importance, as well as the advancement, of the international black community.

Aquarium of the Pacific’s 17th Annual African-American Festival

Saturday, Feb. 23 and Sunday, Feb. 24

Location: Aquarium of the Pacific

100 Aquarium Way Long Beach, CA 90802

Price: Free for Aquarium members, general admission for the public

General admission: $29.95 adult (12+), $26.95 senior (62+), and $17.95 child (3-11)

The world-famous Aquarium of the Pacific is no stranger to celebrating the importance of African-American and African cultures — they’ve been doing it for the past 16 years. This year, visitors can expect an array of performances from local African-American musicians including hip-hop and break dancers, jazz and drum circle musicians, as well as performances by West African dancers. Moreover, the aquarium will host exhibits showcasing cultural artifacts, handmade artwork and storytellers sharing some rich history with guests. The immersive festival is dedicated to displaying the beauty, diversity and prestige of African-American and African cultures at one of Long Beach’s most beloved locale.

California African American Museum

Month-long observance

Location: Exposition Park in Los Angeles

600 State Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90037

Price: Free Admission

Parking: $12 during the day and $15 after 5 p.m.

California African American Museum is the first African-American museum of art, history and culture funded entirely by a state. Founded in 1977, CAAM features a diverse collection of work from different artists, many of whom are under-represented artists of color, according to the museum’s website. The museum’s goal is to encourage attendees to visit the array of exhibits with an accepting, forward-looking view of how African-American artists have contributed to the international art scene. Although this venue isn’t in Long Beach, the museum is a must visit during Black History Month. CAAM will host a month-long schedule of exhibits and activities for guests throughout February, all of which aim to educate the significance of art created by black artists. One exhibit on display for the month of February is “California Bound: Slavery on the New Frontier, 1848 - 1865.” The exhibition features compelling photography, historical documents and relics, all of which aim to tell the story of California’s seldom mentioned involvement with slavery in the 19th century. You definitely don’t want to miss this one.  

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