Ways to celebrate Black history in Denver, this month and year round

From the Culture Museum to the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library.
8 min. read
Portraits by Narkita Gold on display at the Leon Gallery in City Park West. June 24, 2020.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Throughout February, local groups around the city are celebrating Black History Month with a number of events and openings, from pop-up art galleries and performances to themed talks about Black history in Colorado.

To help you celebrate Black history this month and year round, we've put together a list of local events and programs planned for February and beyond.

In February

Passages: Bound and Free Exhibit

What: Presented by Denver Public Library, this art series by Verline "Mijiza" Geaither interprets the experience of some of the Black men, women and children who have lived in the United States.

Where: Blair Caldwell African American Research Library, 2401 Welton St.

When: Monday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Through February 25.

Tickets: Free

A performance at the Colorado Black Arts Festival.
Joe Neely.

Colorado Black Arts Festival - Understudy Artist Showcase

What: A preview of this summer's Colorado Black Arts Festival (CBAF), this free, curated show highlights the work of six artists. The exhibit will be a "fishbowl-style" display, allowing visitors to view the works through the CCC windows from the sidewalk. You can also contact Understudy or CBAF to reserve in-person viewing appointments.

When:  February 4-28, from 6:30-9 p.m.

Where: Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th St.

Tickets: Free

The Block Party: A Market For Us, By Us

What: A market highlighting Black businesses in Denver.

Where: Clayton Members Club & Hotel, 233 Clayton St.

When: February 12, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Tickets: Free. RSVP online. 

The History of African American Music

What: A musical performance accompanied by a narrated history of blues, jazz, gospel and soul music between 1920 and 1970.

Where: Multiple locations. Check online for a performance near you.

When: February 11, 12, 18 and 26.

Tickets: $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, students and military members.

Senior librarian Jameka Lewis handles an issue of The Black Panther on the second floor of the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library on Welton Street. July 22, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Demystifying the Black Panther Party and Black Lives Matter mrganizations

What: Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library Senior Librarian Jameka Lewis leads a discussion about the rise of the Black Panther Party, its mission and leaders, its historical context and how it came to be demonized and often misunderstood. You can find more of DPL's virtual Black History Month programming online.

Where: Virtual. 

When: February 19, 2:30-4 p.m.

Tickets: Free.

Jack Hadley Daybreak in Alabama: The Langston Hughes Project

What: A performance of Hadley's new album based on the poetry of Langston Hughes. Hadley says his music translates Hughes' poems into lyrics, and reflects on universal themes like God, history, love, redemption and racism.

Where: Dazzle, 1512 Curtis St.

When: February 19, 9:30 p.m.

Tickets: $20. 

CAF Rise Above Exhibit

What: A travelling immersive exhibit celebrating the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of mostly African-American WWII military pilots and airmen, and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Visitors will step inside a semi-trailer, where two short films played on a 160-degree panoramic screen will simulate the feeling of being in a cockpit and teach guests about both groups' challenges and triumphs.

Where: Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, 7711 E. Academy Blvd., Hangar 1

When: February 23-26, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Tickets: Included in the cost of admission.

Friday lunch with Purnell Steen at Dazzle Jazz (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Purnell Steen & the Five Points Ambassadors

What: Purnell Steen's band's annual Black History Month show returns to share the stories and music of artists who've played in Five Points. This year, the band welcomes guest artist Sheryl Renee.

Where: Dazzle, 1512 Curtis St.

When: February 24, 6:30 p.m.

Tickets: $25 for general admission, $30 for a front stage table.

Black History Tomorrow Poetry Slam

What: A Poetry Slam showcase and competition hosted by Hakeem Furious. The event is a collaboration between CU Denver and the Denver Art Museum. Youth were challenged to write Afrofuturism-inspired slam poetry responding to the MLK quote: "We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice."

Where: Sharp Auditorium, The DAM Hamilton Building, 100 W 14th Ave. Pkwy.

When: February 24, 3-5 p.m.

Tickets: Included with cost of admission.

Buffalo Soldiers: The Forgotten Black Army in the West

What: An all-ages presentation about the Ninth and Tenth United States Cavalry, U.S. army regiments made up of African-Americans nicknamed "Buffalo Soldiers"  Buffalo Soldiers of the American West members will tell stories about these soldiers and bring them to life with costumes and artifacts. The performance will be dedicated to Cathay Williams, the only woman to serve as a Buffalo Soldier.

Where: Virtual.

When: February 26, 1-2 p.m.

Tickets: Free.

Cleo Parker Robinson (right) watches the first on-stage rehearsal of The Four Journeys with the show's cultural liaison, Janelle Ayon, inside Robinson's theater in Five Points. June 10, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Open House + Performance

What: Cleo Parker Robinson's Ensemble dance company, based in Five Points, is internationally known for its contemporary dance inspired by the African American experience. This month, the ensemble will perform selections from Bamboula, choreographed by Millicent Johnnie.

Where: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, 119 Park Ave. W.

When: February 26, 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Beyond Black History Month

In the Upper Room

What: This world-premiere play is about the Berry family, a multigenerational Black family living together in the 1970s. Directed by Gregg T. Daniel and written by Beaufield Berry, this dramedy walks audiences through difficult and sometimes humorous conversations the family has as they confront questions about colorism, family and spirituality.

Where: Kilstrom Theatre, Speer Blvd. & Arapahoe St.

When: February 11-March 13.

Tickets: $30-73.

Portraits by Narkita Gold on display at the Leon Gallery in City Park West. June 24, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Black in Denver

What: A portrait series by Denver-based artist Narkita Gold. The series pairs photos and interviews to reflect Black life in Denver, and explores questions of identity and sense of self.

Where: History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway.

When: Through March 5.

Tickets: Free for members, $14 for non-members.

Organic Tarot: Works by Tya Alisa Anthony

What: Artist Tya Alisa Anthony takes archival images of Depression-era Black sharecroppers and juxtaposes them with botanic imagery, drawing attention to and reimagining the often hidden stories of the people in these photographs. Influenced by the tradition of tarot-illustrated cards, the series pains these figures as divine figures.

Where: Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St.

When: Through April 3.

Tickets: $15 for Adults; $11.50 for seniors, military members and veterans; and $11 for students and children 3-15. Free for members.

The Culture Museum.
Courtesy of SideCar PR.

The Culture Museum

What: An immersive pop-up museum celebrating Black culture through themed rooms designed by local Black artists.

Where: 1439 26th St.

When: Fridays from 3-8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 12-7 p.m.

Tickets: $10 for children, $22 for adults.

Librarian Terry Nelson catalogues issues of Jet Magazine that are part of the collection here at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. July 22, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library

What: This DPL branch has a vast collection highlighting the history of African-Americans in Denver and the American West. It's one of five public library branches nationwide with a specific focus on African-American history. You can dig through the library archives or check out its history museum, which also features a rotating art exhibit highlighting work by local Black artists.

Where:  2401 Welton St.

When: Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

ILA Gallery: Real Black

What: This gallery show highlights a number of contemporary artworks that convey "the diversity of the Black American experience."

Where: 209 Kalamath St., Suite 12.

When: Tuesdays - Saturdays from February 18 to March 9, 2-6 p.m.

Tickets: Free.

Black History Month Public Art Tour

What: Denver Public Art has compiled an interactive map of publicly funded artworks by Black artists, including some local artists, and works celebrating Black history. You can plan out your own route visiting these murals, sculptures, paintings and mosaics, and click on the map to learn about each one as you go.

Where: Multiple locations across Denver

When: Year round

Tickets: Free

The Black American West Museum at 31st and California Streets in Five Points. Feb. 3, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The Black American West Museum & Heritage Center

What: A three-story museum dedicated to the history of Black Americans who helped shape the Western U.S. While it's most famous for its history on Black cowboys, the museum tells stories of Black miners, farmers, doctors, soldiers, teachers, homesteaders and more. Notably, the museum building was once home to Dr. Justina Ford, the first registered Black woman doctor in Colorado. While the museum is currently closed for updates, representatives say they hope to reopen it this year.

Where: 3091 California St.

When: Currently closed for renovations. Reopening date TBA.

Tickets: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and children, free for children 5 and under.

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