Five Ways to Kick off Black History Month

| Updated: November 27, 2018
Mozart and Haydn's inspiration: Composer Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Early February is jam-packed full of ways to celebrate Black History Month. Here are five happenings to start you off in the right direction.

What the Griot Said: Black History Month Storytelling at NAAM with Eva Abram
(2/2, 12-1 p.m.) A griot is a storyteller, historian, singer, traveling poet and/or musician who maintains a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa. The Northwest African American Museum kicks off its first program observing Black History Month with this spotlight on the ancient art of griot storytelling and their oral traditions. The event will be accompanied by a public docent-led tour of NAAM’s new exhibit, An Elegant Utility, featuring the work of local artist Inye Wokoma, which runs until 5/28. Free. Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S Massachusetts Street; 206-518-6000;

Through the Eyes of Art
(2/3, 8-11 p.m.) MoPOP and Brandkings present this evening of music and conversation focused around building strong black communities. Speakers include CNN Political Commentator, Angela Rye, performances by Josephine Howell, a special reunion show by Seattle hip-hop group Ghetto Children, and specially invited guests including celebrated trumpeter Owuor Arunga. Now in its 4th year, the event will be hosted by the multitalented Isiah Anderson. Prices vary. MoPOP (formerly EMP Museum) Sky Church, Seattle Center, 325 5th Avenue N; 206.770.2700; 

Seattle Baroque Orchestra: Le Mozart Noir
(2/3, 7:30 p.m., pre-show talk at 6:30 p.m.) Known as “Le Mozart Noir,” Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges was one of the earliest musicians of the European classical tradition to have African ancestry. This son of a slave was one of the greatest composers of the late Baroque/early Classical period—inspiring both Mozart and Haydn. He became a major musical star all over Europe, while fighting the adversities of class, race and prejudice. Although he’s been largely forgotten, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra (led by Music Director Alexander Weimann) will be joined by violinist Monica Huggett to highlight this incredibly significant composer. There’s a pre-show talk from concert violinist, chamber musician, educator, and filmmaker Dr. Quinton Morris who will offer insight into Le Mozart Noir’s music and life. And if anyone knows the man, it’s Morris who self-produced an award-winning, short film-music video based on the life and music of Chevalier de Saint-Georges in 2016. Prices vary. llsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4800;

Black Artists Lead: Creative Education for Liberation & Survival 
(2/4, 4-7 p.m.) Black teaching artists come together in this workshop that focuses on the way arts and creativity promote healing, building community and fighting injustice in these uncertain times. Facilitated by writer, musician and actress Shontina Vernon. Co-presented in partnership by: CD Forum for Arts & Ideas, the Office of Arts & Culture and the Visionary Justice StoryLab. Free but registration is required. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, Central District, 104 17th Ave S.; 206.684.4757;

Read All Power: Visual Legacies of the Black Panther Party
This book includes works and writings by six locals involved in the arts including Yedesa Bojia, Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Robert Wade, Paul Rucker, Negarra A. Kudumu and Michelle Dunn Marsh, and other nationally and internationally acclaimed artists. This isn’t a volume chronicling Black Panther Party history, but rather a book that grew from correspondence and conversation with contemporary black artists who submitted work that related to the Party’s present influence on their life and work.

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