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Friday, March 1, 2024

Celebrate Black History Month in Evansville

Black History Month celebrations in Evansville begin Feb. 1 and feature several opportunities to recognize, learn about, and honor the ways Black history has molded and enriched American culture.

Evansville African American Museum
Mount Olive Galilee Baptist Church and All Saints Parish team up to present “Crossing the Railroad Tracks,” a discussion about the history of race and housing in Evansville. Leading the conversation is Kelley Coures, executive director of the City of Evansville’s Department of Metropolitan Development. The lecture starts at 1 p.m. Feb. 18 at the museum at 579 S. Garvin St. and includes a tour.

Enjoy an evening of music at the Evansville Black History Month Unity Concert/Choir, directed by the Rev. James Hamler and Dr. Kandace Hinton. The two-hour concert starts at 5 p.m. Feb. 19 at Old National Events Plaza, 715 Locust St. Admission is free, but an offering will be taken to benefit children’s programming at the museum.

The museum will host its annual Taste of History on March 11. Guests can feast on a soul food dinner and take in a dramatic presentation by Vernon A. Williams of “The Price of Progress,” about 80 years of Black history on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis. Another performance will be held the day prior for students at Bosse High School.

Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve
The nation’s largest tract of virgin old-growth forest — within any city limits — is partnering with the Evansville African American Museum to present “Black Trailblazers,” an exhibition highlighting Black representation in the fields of natural history, botany, ecology, wildlife science, and conservation through untold stories of local naturalists and internationally renowned ecologists. Throughout February, guests at the nature preserve at 551 N. Boeke Road can learn about the first African American National Park Ranger, the first African American to summit Mount Everest, and more Black naturalists from the 19th century to the present day who were trailblazers, literally and figuratively.

University of Evansville
UE kicks off its Black History Month activities at its campus at 1800 Lincoln Ave. with a film screening of “Look Away, Look Away” and a Q&A with director Patrick O’Connor. Presented by the university’s Department of History, Politics, and Social Change and the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the 2021 documentary by longtime Evansville resident O’Connor examines the battle over Confederate elements in the Mississippi state flag. (Read more about “Look Away, Look Away” in this article, “Take Two,” from the May/June 2021 issue of Evansville Living.) The screening starts at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 in Eykamp Hall and is free and open to the public.

Other Black History Month events at UE include a Black-owned business Blixer on Feb. 11, a Feb. 15 performance of “Fences” by UE Theatre Program students, and a “Mental Health While Black” panel on Feb. 23.

Young & Established
The Y&E community center is hosting a pop-up shop supporting local Black-owned businesses this Saturday. Guests can enjoy food, music, and vendors from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 4 at 1308 Vann Ave.

Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library
Throughout February, artwork representing what Black History Month means to local students will be displayed at a Black History Month Art Contest exhibit at Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library’s east branch at 840 E. Chandler Ave. A special program at 5 p.m. Feb. 17 will allow the students to present their art pieces to the community and will include food, drinks, and live music.

All EVPL branches also are holding a Black History Month Reading Challenge to encourage readers to read materials by prominent Black authors. When readers fulfill three of the reading challenge prompts, they can be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a prize.

University of Southern Indiana
Among several Black History Month events the University of Southern Indiana is planning is Feb. 3’s Rhythm Fest — complete with a “Versus Battle” by St. Louis, Missouri, performers LaToya Wilson and Shanelle Scott — during Homecoming activities; oratorical and debate competitions; a Black History heroes bingo event; a headwrap seminar and cultural cookoff; and Black Student Union Gala. Capping off the month’s festivities is the annual Mandela Day of Social Justice on Feb. 27. Keynote speaker Dr. Rachel Hardeman will address racial inequities in maternal health at a lecture set for 4 p.m. in Carter Hall on the university’s campus at 8600 University Blvd.

Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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