Black History Month at the Center
This February, the Center celebrates Black History Month with activities that uplift Black voices in the arts. From performances to discussions dedicated to Black compositions and artists, we are honored to elevate Black creators and collaborate with artists to create meaningful, celebratory events at the Center.
Black History Month is a time for celebration and contemplation, honoring the contributions made to our country by Black individuals across many fields of study and creative industries. Originally beginning as Negro History Week in 1926, the week in February was chosen because it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It wasn’t until 1970 that Black History Month as we know it was created at Kent State University in Ohio. In 1976 during the United States Bicentennial celebrations, President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as National Black History Month.
It’s important to reflect on Black history not only this month, but year-round. We’ve created a list of book recommendations by Black authors that help to deepen understanding of the Black experience in America and further educate on the intersection of performing arts and the Black community.
Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry
As the first African American female to have a play on Broadway, Lorraine Hansberry’s contributions to American theater are monumental. Perry paints a beautiful image of this beloved Black playwright and author through a biography that shows how Hansberry and A Raisin in the Sun changed the face of theater.
Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib
In a speech at the 1963 March on Washington, Josephine Baker said, "I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too." In a reflection on this statement, author Hanif Abdurraqib writes about Black performance in America and its lasting impact on American culture that expands far outside of the realm of just entertainment.
The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne
This is arguably one of the best biographies on civil rights activist Malcolm X. Les and Tamara Payne examine Malcolm X’s life through the personal stories and accounts of those surrounding him, giving readers insight into his life through a work that took three decades to complete.
Flyboy 2 by Greg Tate
In creating this collection of essays, American writer and musician Greg Tate shows his 3-decade impact on Black performing arts through his commentary on American pop culture, Afro-futurism, Black feminism, and social movements. As a continuation of his original collection of essays, Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America, Flyboy 2 is a must-read follow up that dives deep into a variety of themes introduced in the first essay collection.
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
As described by GoodReads, The Sellout is "a biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court." Beatty’s novel highlights the lower-middle-class in a small, fictitious neighborhood in Los Angeles and offers social commentary on race relations in America.