Black History Month Events in Boston 2016

Recognize Black History Month with South African a capella music, a tour of the Freedom Trail, or a documentary film screening.

A "Black Is..." booklist brochure in the library.

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library

 The Boston Public Library’s “Black Is…” Booklist

In honor of Black History Month, the Boston Public Library curates an annual booklist highlighting the African-American experience. Anne Smart, Boston Public Library’s South End Branch librarian and a booklist organizer, explains that the list spans a range of categories, “There’s biographies of different people, there’s cookbooks, books about athletes, musicals, culture, and all types of literature—African literature, Caribbean literature, fiction, mysteries, urban fiction.” Smart continues, “The contents reflect the wide variety of books by and about African Americans—it’s to spark interest in everybody.” This year’s list includes Toni Morrison’s God Help the Children and Whoopi Goldberg’s If Someone Says “You Complete Me, Run!”


 African Americans in Film Series at the Boston Public Library’s South End Branch

Every Friday in February, the South End Branch of the Boston Public Library will be screening a film starring black characters. The next film, Set it Off, is a 1996 drama following four women who plan to execute a bank robbery. Precious will be showing on February 19th and Paris is Burning will be showing on February 28th.

Free, Friday 12th, 19th, and 28th 2:00 p.m., The South End Branch of the Boston Public Library, 685 Tremont St., Boston,

Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks

A man plays the guitar and sings to a young Rosa Parks on stage.

Andy Bustin

Mad River Theatre Works, an Ohio-based theater company, tells the life story of Rosa Parks through a musical. From her childhood in Alabama to her famed moment standing up against segregation and becoming a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Walk On gives an informed picture of the historical figure. Dillon Bustin, Artistic Director of Hibernian Hall—the venue hosting the show—says it’s a good family-friendly activity. “It’s a musical, so there are 5 or 6 songs in the play. It’s very engaging.” But he’s quick to add, “It’s lively, but it doesn’t sugarcoat anything in terms of the history of the civil rights movement.”

$20.00 (Adults), Sunday, February 21st, 3:00 p.m., Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley St, Roxbury, MA,

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Since the 1960s, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been widely considered the best group performing mbube, traditional South African a capella music. They’ve won numerous Grammys for their upbeat music, which features layers of harmony and rhythm.

$10-$48 (prices vary), Sunday, February 14th, 3:00 p.m., Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St., Cambridge,


Baltimore is a play centered a new college resident advisor, who finds herself in the middle of a racially charged incident in her residence hall. The play follows Shelby and a group of other students as they work through the aftermath. Writer Kirsten Greenwood explains, “The play is an opportunity to start a bunch of conversations… [It] offers up a dilemma, a messy, very uncomfortable dilemma, and these young people grappling with that dilemma.”

$30.00, through Sunday, February 28th, days and times vary, Boston University Theatre, Lane-Comley Studio 210, 264, Huntington Ave, Boston,

Several kids play in an exhibit at Boston Black.

Gus Freedman

Boston Black at the Boston Children’s Museum

This exhibit at the Boston Children’s Museum highlights cultural institutions important to the varied black populations in the city, with a Cape Verdean cafe, a Dominican store, and more. It’s designed to be a neighborhood where kids can participate in activities and learn from the displays. Community engagement and culture coordinator Alicia Greene explains that the exhibit can be a tool to teach kids about race and that it can be “the space to have those conversations where kids feel safe beginning to have those conversations and there are different materials, props, questions, or visual cues to guide you through.”

$16.00 (Adults and children ages 1-15), Saturday-Thursday 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Fridays 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m., Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St, Boston,

3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets

This documentary addresses the intersection between race and gun violence by investigating the story of a black teenage boy fatally shot at a gas station. Indiewire writes in its review, “A harrowing exploration of criminal justice gone awry & an all-too-timely film that speaks loudly to the current racial climate in America.”

Free, Wednesday, February 11th, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Boston University College of Arts and Sciences, 725 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 313 Boston,

A guide in costume gives a group of kids a tour of the Freedom Trail

Freedom Trail Foundation

African-American Patriots Tour

Guides in 18th century garb will lead you on a 90-minute tour of the Freedom Trail through sites significant to the American Revolution and its African-American leaders. Learn about black figures such as Prince Hall, a black abolitionist, and Phillis Wheatley, the first published female African-American poet. Sam Jones, creative manager of the Freedom Trail Foundation, says, “Everybody knows that by walking the Freedom Trail, you see sights associated with the American Revolution. Everybody knows that. Not at many people know, and we like to share this with them, that on The Freedom Trail, there’s a tremendous amount of history of free blacks.”

$12.00 (Adult discount), February 1st–February 29th, Saturdays and Sundays 12:45 p.m. Boston Common Visitor Information Center, 139 Tremont St, Boston,

Civil War Boston

Just because the famous Civil War battles took place further south doesn’t mean the Bay State didn’t play a role in the war. Learn all about Boston’s Civil War history at this lecture. Barbara Berenson, author of Boston in the Civil War: Hub of the Second Revolution and Walking Tours of Civil War Boston: Hub of Abolitionism, will be giving a lecture at Wellesley Public Library.

Free, Sunday, February 21st , 2:00 p.m. Wakelin Room, Wellesley Main Library, 530 Washington St, Wellesley,

A Continuous Reading of Writing by Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass, the famed former slave, orator, and writer, authored many anti-slavery speeches and essays, as well as multiple autobiographical books. Immerse yourself in this icon’s influential writing with a four-hour marathon reading of his best work.

Free, Thursday, February 11th, 1:00 pm –5:00 p.m., Bunker Hill Community College Library and Learning Commons, E300, Charlestown Campus,