Celebrating Black History Month in the SF Area

Black Joy Parade 2020

Each year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) chooses a different theme for Black History Month. This year, the theme is “Black Resistance.”  Listening to the news and reading national headlines, I’m often overcome by both the obvious and subtle ways people in our country continue to try to erase the voice, lives, culture and history of Black Americans. So it seems fitting to have a theme of Resistance in 2023. 

My father was very active in Black voter registration campaigns in the South following the Voter Registration Act of 1965. So growing up in my house, conversations around Civil rights, Black rights, and fighting racism were a common occurrence at the dinner table.  I truly love and embrace that part of my upbringing and will often tell people that I’m doing my best to raise mini Social Justice Warriors.  I feel so lucky to have my family be a part of the Synergy Community where we understand that Black History is American History; something to be learned and appreciated year round.  But for many people that same level of exposure isn’t true, and the month of February might be the only time important Black people and events are discussed in detail.  While Black History month is a time for our Nation to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments and rich history of African-Americans, it’s also an important time to reflect on the struggles faced by Black people throughout American history. I often use this time of year to “stockpile” information on new Black stories, Black owned businesses, Black Art and Artist, and Black owned restaurants so I can keep Black history alive in our house year round.

As a parent, I believe one of the best ways to resist the erasure of Black History is to teach our children through exposure to books, museums, art, events, and food so that Black culture remains in the forefront of their minds.  This ensures the next generation is better at highlighting the many influential Black Americans that sacrificed and contributed to the world we live in today.  Below are some ideas and events that you can do as a family to help educate, facilitate hard conversations around racism, and also celebrate the culture and accomplishments of Black Americans both Present and Past.

Please post in the comments how your family celebrates and honors Black History this month and year round.

From Parent Square Diversity & Inclusion Post

Visit a Museum or Historic Site:

One of the best ways to learn about Black history is to immerse yourself in it. San Francisco is home to several amazing museums and historic sites that offer insight into African-American culture. The Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD) offers an expansive collection of art, artifacts, texts, and multimedia exploring global connections between people of the African diaspora. And don’t forget about the California Historical Society (CHS), which houses a vast collection of materials related to California’s diverse ethnic heritage—including artifacts from prominent African-American leaders like Marcus Garvey and Frederick Douglass.

Attend Local Events:

San Francisco also offers plenty of events celebrating Black history throughout the month of February. From lectures and musical performances to film screenings and art exhibitions, there’s something for everyone! Here are just a handful to check out:

At the San Francisco JCC


THU, FEB 23, 7:00 – 8:30 PM 

From Lincoln Center’s inaugural poet-in-residence comes a collection (Chrome Valley: Poems) that intricately mines the experience of being a Black woman in America. 


TUE, FEB 28, 1:00 – 2:00 PM // FREE 

Experience images from Black photographers who present radically new perspectives on photography and art, race and beauty, and gender and power. 
SF City Hall Black History Month Kick-Off
Mark the start of Black History Month with a commemorative event and musical procession starting at the Goodlett Place side of City Hall Plaza, heading through Civic Center Park to the main library. Usher in the occasion with dancing and live music from the New Orleans style brass band, MJ’s Brass Boppers.

SFJazz Family Matinee: Marcus Shelby New Orchestra
The ensemble combines music, text and video in a family-friendly live performance that addresses Black history past, present and future, and includes original compositions.  11 a.m. Feb. 18. $5-$23, reservations recommended. SFJazz, 201 Franklin St., S.F. 866-920-5299. sfjazz.org

Sixth Annual Black Joy Parade and Festival
This family-friendly event celebrates joy in California’s Black community. The festival is set to feature more than 200 local artists, food and drink vendors, live performances on two stages and more.

Parade starts 12:30 p.m. Feb. 26; festival will be noon-7 p.m. Free; registration encouraged. Parade starts at 14th and Franklin streets, Oakland. Festival entrance at 20th Street and Franklin, Oakland. blackjoyparade.orgMore Than a Month at SF Public Library

Each year, the San Francisco Public Library puts on More Than A Month, a celebration of Black history spotlighting Black creators. This year will emphasize the theme of resistance, with free meditation, film screenings, musical performances, panels, craft programs, and more. Some standout events include a meditation workshop in the Main Branch’s African American Center on Wednesdays, periodic film screenings including Malcom X and Black Panther, a paper kente cloth pattern workshop on Feb. 15, and more.

Fairyland Celebrates Black History Month

Both events are Free with Admission ($15 per person and free for 1 and under)

Rapper/poet Jamey Williams lights up the Emerald City stage with an electrifying show your kiddos will love! Two shows daily for two whole days! Come see Jamey at 1:30 and 2:30 on Saturday, February 4 and Sunday, February 5.

Bay Area storytelling legend Kirk Waller weaves music, spoken word, rhythm and movement into his truly unforgettable performances, making him a Fairyland favorite! Catch him on Saturday, February 11 and Sunday, February 12. 

The Day You Begin, BACT

Bay Area Children’s Theatre (BACT) presents a musical based on the popular children’s picture book by Jacqueline Wood. The show is 50 minutes long and is family friendly (recommended for kids 5+). Weekend performances in Berkeley February 4 through March 12, plus shows in San Francisco March 18 and 19. $32-$35 per person. Buy tickets HERE Enjoy a meal at these Black-owned restaurants or Support these Black-owned businesses recommended by locals

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