Updated for 2022
February is recognized as Black History Month, and here in Los Angeles, there are many ways to celebrate the accomplishments of African-Americans in the United States.
Celebrating the heritage and achievements of Black Americans is something that doesn’t need to be limited to just one month, especially here in Los Angeles. This year, some events are happening online and some are in person.
20+ Ways to Celebrate Black History Month
The Los Angeles Public Library system has a large number of resources available online to commemorate and celebrate African American History Month. You’ll find books (both fiction and nonfiction), photos, podcasts, and more. Also, be sure to check the website for more information (as it becomes available) about events happening at different branches.
California African American Museum (CAAM)
600 State Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90037
The California African American Museum is located within Exposition Park. The collection here consists of over 4,000 items dating back to the 1800’s all the way up to the present. The Museum’s collection includes paintings, historical documents, sculptures, films, artifacts, and photos. “CAAM aims to represent the diverse contributions of African Americans in the United States, but also to interpret how the past has affected identity in the present.” The Museum hosts a number of special events and programs throughout the year, including many family-friendly programs.
The Los Angeles County Public Library system celebrates Black History Month all throughout February. Check the website for more information (as it becomes available) regarding related activities and events.
Black American Portraits
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
Be sure to visit LACMA before April 17th to view Black American Portraits. This special exhibition features about 140 works, spanning over two centuries, and highlights “emancipation and early studio photography, scenes from the Harlem Renaissance, portraits from the Civil Rights and Black Power eras, and multiculturalism of the 1990s.” Ticket information is available online.
The Annual Pan African Film + Arts Festival was established in 1992 and is “dedicated to racial tolerance through the exhibition of film, art and creative expression.” The Festival, which is “the largest Black Film Festival in America” highlights both new and old films, as well as fine art and crafts. This year, the Festival has been postponed as is currently scheduled to begin April 19th. However, PAFF is in the process of putting together video and live-streamed content to “provide a virtual PAFF online experience to celebrate Black History Month.” Check the website for more information as it becomes available.
Related: Celebrate Juneteenth in Los Angeles
20th Annual African-American Festival
Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802
The Aquarium of the Pacific will host its Annual African-American Festival on Saturday, February 26th and Sunday, February 27th from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm each day. The festivities will feature “music, dance, storytelling, and historical displays.” The Festival is included in general Aquarium admission. Ticket information is available online.
On Thursday, February 24th from 4 pm to 5 pm, families are invited to participate in Let’s Read and Make Art – The Power of Words, a virtual event sponsored by the Los Angeles Public Library System. “We will read an inspirational story in honor of African American History Month and then create word art together.” Families may stop by the Central Library’s Children’s Literature Department beginning February 10th to pick up a bag of craft supplies, while supplies last. This program is designed for children ages 5-11. Register online for the Zoom information.
The Museum of African American Art
Macy’s 3rd Floor – Baldwin Hills Crenshaw
4005 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008
Many Los Angeles residents may not even realize the Museum of African American Art exists. And while the museum is currently closed, make a note to visit as soon as it re-opens. Its mission is to educate “visitors of all ages about the arts through the lens of African American culture.” Families can access some information about the Museum’s exhibitions online. Admission is free. The Museum is usually open Thursday through Sunday, from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm each day.
On Wednesday, February 9th from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm, teens are invited to participate in “Online Black History Resources for Teens,” offered by the Los Angeles Public Library System. The event will explore online Black history and resources will include “digitized Black newspapers, photography collections focused on African American communities, and oral histories from Black History Makers.” Students will need to email (from their school email address) to receive the link to participate. Details are available online.
The website for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is a true treasure trove of resources! You’ll find videos you can access of past performances. And while you’re on the website, the Dance Company asks you to consider making a donation to help support “Alvin Ailey’s mission to deliver dance back to the people.”
The Los Angeles Public Library System is hosting a special discussion with Misty Copeland on Friday, February 18th from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Ms. Copeland is the “first Black woman promoted to the Principal Dancer position in the American Ballet Theatre Company’s 75-year history.” She will discuss her new middle-grade book, Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy, and there will be a question and answer session. This free event will stream live on LAPL’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
While it may not be possible to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture right now, you can absolutely visit the Museum’s website. The Museum has a large number of digital resources available including information and tools on talking about race, online exhibitions, video archives, and much more.
On Monday, February 28th at 3:00 pm, teens are encouraged to participate in a virtual event, Teen Book Bites: Black Ingenuity, Black Community & Black Joy, sponsored by the Los Angeles Public Library System. “Join our librarians as they share books for teens that celebrate African American History Month.”
Annual Orange County Black History Parade and Unity Festival
205 W. Center St. Promenade, Anaheim, CA 92805
Mark your calendars. The Annual Orange County Black History Parade and Unity Festival is happening on Saturday, February 5th. This special event features music, vendors, arts, food, and much more. Morning Blessings begin at 9:00 am, the parade is scheduled for 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, and then the Unity Festival is from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Check the website for details and the parade route.
Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom
800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90015
The newest exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum, Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom, “examines the role music has played in informing and inspiring social consciousness throughout American history. The exhibit spans time and genre to tell the stories of music’s role as a source of inspiration and education.” This exhibition was first on display when the Museum opened back in 2008. Since then the exhibit has been updated to include the Black Lives Matter movement as well as songs that fight for LGBTQ+ rights. The exhibit will be on display through May 8th. Tickets are available online.
Jazz at the Library
Alma Reaves Woods – Watts Branch Library
10205 Compton Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90002
On Tuesday, February 22nd at 3:00 pm, the Alma Reaves Woods – Watts Branch Library is hosting Jazz at the Library. Enjoy “an afternoon of Jazz provided by our own Cyril Carr and other special guests.”
Reception and Black History-Themed Art Walk at Bergamot
Bergamot Station Arts Center
2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404
The City of Santa Monica invites families to a special event at Bergamot Station Arts Center on Saturday, February 19th from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. “The reception will include refreshments followed by a self-guided tour of galleries displaying Black History-themed exhibits.” Tickets are free, but reservations are required.
Prosperity Market @ CAAM
California African American Museum
600 State Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90037
CAAM invites families to attend Prosperity Market happening on Saturday, February 26th from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm. This special pop-up farmers market will offer fruits and vegetables, “delicious prepared foods and handcrafted artisan goods,” as well as a DJ, special kids corner, cooking demonstrations, and more. RSVP online for this free event.
Black History Month Exhibits
Santa Monica City Hall
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA
From Tuesday, February 1st through Wednesday, February 16th, families are invited to observe the special exhibits at Santa Monica City Hall. The city has partnered with the Quinn Research Center, and all exhibits feature “Black historical figures in Santa Monica who worked in health and wellness.” Additionally, the City is working with local schools to collect and display student art work.
Black History Month Outdoor Soirée
Del Amo Fashion Center
3525 W. Carson St., Torrance, CA 90503
The Del Amo Fashion Center is the site of the Black History Month Outdoor Soirée happening on Saturday, February 5th from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Support Black-owned businesses as you shop among more than 40 vendors offering clothing, jewelry, beauty, home decor, and more.
The Underground Museum
3508 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90018
The Underground Museum is set to reopen January 28th, 2022. The Museum’s Mission is “to ensure that no one has to travel outside the neighborhood to see world-class art, or learn from leading thinkers, educators, chefs, and artists.” Check the website for more information regarding upcoming exhibitions and special programs as it becomes available.
Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website WendyKennar.com where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).