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Celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco

  • Written by Laurie Armstrong

San Francisco has many events and activities during Black History Month that commemorate the contributions of African Americans throughout the city's history and across the nation.  


San Francisco African-American Historical and Cultural Society Celebrates Black History Month
Kick-Off Black History Month at San Francisco's City Hall
In conversation with the Special Assistant to the Superintendent Landon Dickey, learn about the theme: "The Crisis in Black Education." Black History Month Kick-off Event: Feb. 3, 2017 at San Francisco's City Hall Rotunda, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl., 12 - 1 p.m.

“Where is Here”
Featuring artwork from Asya Abdrahman, La Vaughn Belle, Allan deSouza, Broun Fellinis, Christopher Cozier, Thierry Fontaine, David Huffman, Olalekan Jeyifous, Adia Millett, Ingrid Pollard
“Where Is Here,” curated by Jacqueline Francis and Kathy Zarur, evokes the real and conceptual space through which we travel. The exhibition presents the works of contemporary artists who are developing personal and engaged visual and musical systems to claim, make, and describe space. The imagery is both straightforward and poetic. The terrain of Where Is Here is international in its scope. For several of the exhibiting artists, the San Francisco Bay Areaʼs changing landscape and the politics around its most pressing issues are addressed in their projects. Through April 2, 2017 at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), 685 Mission St., Mon. – Tue. Closed; Wed. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sun., 12 – 5 p.m. 

“Envisioning the Classics With Color” 
Celebrating the work of the African-American Shakespeare Company
Following the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, the African American Center at the San Francisco Public Library is proud to present “Envisioning the Classics with Color,” an exhibit commemorating the African-American Shakespeare Company, which has opened the realm of classical theatre to a diverse audience and provided an opportunity and space for actors of color to hone their skills in mastering some of the world's greatest classical roles. Since 1994, the Company has produced work from the canon of classical theater that is lively, entertaining, and relevant – all with the belief that the arts can change perceptions, that knowledge of the classics can empower communities of color, and that the classics should and need to be accessible to historically-excluded audiences. Through March 2, 2017 at the African American Center, San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St., Sun. 12 - 5 p.m.; Mon. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Tues. - Thurs. 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Friday 1 - 6 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

“All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50”
Reflecting on Black Panther History 
The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) has extended the major exhibition All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50. The popular exhibition explores stories of human achievement and struggles to support the needs of the oppressed. All Power to the People also delves into aspects of the Party that are not often told, such as its survival programs, the presence of women, its use of media and art, and its founding Ten Point Program that continues to inform and inspire contemporary movements of change today. Through Feb. 26, 2017 at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), 100 Oak St., Mon. – Tue. Closed; Wed. – Thurs. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Fri., 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sat. – Sun. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Civil Rights Movement Photography and Its Legacies, with Leigh Raiford
The Civil Rights Movement through the lens of cameras
In fall 2010, just as it was announced that a museum would open to celebrate the life and work of famed civil rights movement photographer Ernest C. Withers, revelations surfaced that Withers had worked from at least 1968 to 1970 as a paid FBI informant. The debates that ensued about Withers' guilt or innocence revealed continuing anxieties about black heritage and the legacies and memory of the civil rights movement, as well as about artistic intent and aesthetic value. This talk at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive explores what role photography—as a document, as art, and as surveillance—played in the modern civil rights movement and how the medium continues to shape memories of the "Second Reconstruction." Wed., Feb. 15, 2017. at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Come to Water Lecture Series
As part of the “Come to the Water” series presented by historian John Templeton, several lectures will be held throughout San Francisco at various locations. Among them are:

  • “Jazz Genesis 1869-1915,” ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage 1691 Turk St., Jan. 28, 10 a.m. 
  • “Wesley Johnson: The Texas Tornado, 1915-1950,” St. Dominick's Catholic Church, 2390 Bush St., Feb. 4, 2 p.m.
  • “LeRoy King's San Francisco 1950-1985,” ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage, 1691 Turk St., Feb. 18, 10 a.m.

Hear "Let the Monster Perish"
On Feb. 12, 1865 Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, a former slave and a pastor in Washington, D.C. became the first African American to speak in the Capitol Building in D.C. His sermon, “Let the Monster Perish,” will be reenacted. St. John's Presbyterian Church, 25 Lake St., Feb. 12, 10 a.m.



The 13th Annual Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now 2017 
Engage in a celebration of African and African American Dance and Culture 
The Black Choreographers Festival is an annual event celebrating African and African American dance and culture, featuring award-winning Bay Area choreographers and companies. The Next Wave Choreographers Showcase: New Voices | New Works celebrates the diverse artistic expression within the context of African and African American dance and culture featuring premieres by Byb Chanel Bibene, Gregory Dawson, Ibrahima Diouf, Chris Evans, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Maurya Kerr, Robert Moses, and more.  Feb. 11-26, 2017 at the Dance Mission Theater, 3316  24th Street, 7:30 p.m.

Bernal Heights Black History Month Celebration
Because Black Lives Matter
Experience a day of celebrating Black History, with musical performance by West African cora (harp) player, Keenan Webster, henna tattoos and crafts. This celebration has something for everyone. Music starts at 1:30 p.m. Bernal Heights Meeting Room, 500 Cortland St.



sf|noir Wine & Food Festival
Prominent chefs offering their interpretations of soul food and African American-inspired dishes
The sf|noir Wine & Food Festival returns for Black History Month celebrating the best in black and Southern-inspired cuisine from prominent Bay Area chefs. The festival honors the region's best in black cuisine from throughout the Diaspora, including: soul food, Southern-inspired cooking, Caribbean and Pan-African dishes, BBQ and more. Taking place around the Bay Area, it includes popular events, such as the Shrimp & Grits Taste-Off, a Sunday brunch, cooking demonstrations, live jazz performances and more. Feb. 23-26, 2017, Various locations and times. 

Fat Tuesday in the Fillmore
Mardi Gras San Francisco Style
Mardi Gras opens with a free blues concert at the Fillmore Center Plaza and has presented blues ensembles such as Bobbie Webb, Fillmore Slim, Soul Mechanix and Bernard Anderson in the past.  A second line band leads a New Orleans style procession through the neighborhood, enlivening the Fillmore's commercial corridor, bringing awareness, as well as additional foot traffic and revenue to community businesses. Tues., Feb. 28, 2017 at Fillmore Plaza. Starts at 5 p.m.



Black History Month Programming with the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park 
The Struggle for Racial Equality, Sea Chanteys at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
Located in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Pacific Coast maritime history. African Americans have played a major role in maritime history, from the earliest days of our nation to modern times. They have built, crewed and captained ships; fought in wars; invented tools and created maritime music. Join the San Francisco Maritime National Park in celebrating African American History Month with special programs throughout the month, including: 

  • Sargent Claude Johnson: The Color of Beauty, Feb. 4, 2017 
  • Sargent Claude Johnson: The West Coast Link to the Harlem Renaissance, Feb. 19 and 25, 2017  
  • Chance and Fair Play: A Dialogue about Maritime Equality and Opportunity, Feb. 19, 2017
  • Chanteys: The African American and Caribbean Connection, Feb. 25, 2017
  • Star of Alaska and the African American Experience, Feb. 25, 2017
  • From Slaves to Sailors: The Voyage to Freedom through Whaling, Feb. 25, 2017

San Francisco Maritime National Park, Visitor Center, 499 Jefferson St. at the corner of Hyde St. 

Download an Audio Tour Featuring the Black Panther Party 
Visit the intersection where the Black Panthers became the first crossing guards to carry shotguns.
Detour, the producers of mobile app audios curated and narrated by people who live here, offers a downloadable audio tour featuring the Black Panther Party and the Oakland neighborhood where the Black Power revolution took root. Produced by Oakland residents Jason Jakitis, Mwende Hahesy and Ian Davis, the tour walks through North Oakland's Santa Fe neighborhood and allows listeners to hear directly from original Panthers such as Emory Douglas and Bobby Seale. Downloading the tour requires purchase of the Detour Application for iOS and Android.

Visit the African American Art & Culture Complex
Visitors on their way to capture an iconic photo of the famous Painted Ladies row of Victorian houses on Steiner Street should not miss a visit to the African American Art & Culture Complex, a vital resource for the African/African-American community and San Francisco arts and culture communities. The facility houses an art gallery and three art exhibitions spaces, a 203-seat theater, a recording studio, library and archives of African American history, two dance studios and other multi-purpose space.  

Take a Tour of the Bayview Opera House
Originally constructed in 1888, the Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre (BVOH) is one of oldest cultural buildings in San Francisco and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Situated along the Third Street commercial corridor, BVOH became an official Cultural Center of San Francisco in 1990 and has served as the focal point for art and culture in the Bayview Hunters Point community by providing accessible, diverse, and high-quality arts education, cultural programs and community events in a safe environment. 

The African-American Freedom Trail with the SF Soul Shuttle
The African American Freedom Trail tells how African American pioneers in San Francisco changed the world. Learn from Oxford University Press historian John William Templeton about the society's role in maintaining the legacies of great African American figures such as Capt. William Alexander Leidesdorff, Mary Ellen Pleasant, Sargent Johnson and Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett and how its founders supported African liberation leaders during the founding of the United Nations. SFSoul Shuttle offers two tours almost daily of the California African American Freedom Trail during February.

Visit Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
Members of Hannibal Lodge No. 1 will visit Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, Tulare County, to explore the California African-American Freedom Trail; purchased in 1974 by California State Parks, Allensworth is the only California town to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans. Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Tickets ($75), which include bus transportation, are available from Lou Garrett, 415-515-5732, lou9ers@aol.com

Visit Bayview Linda Brooks Burton Branch Library
In addition to a number of activities planned at the Bayview Linda Brooks Burton Branch Library, 5075 Third St., throughout the month of February the Crispus Attucks Club of Bayview-Hunters Point will gather at 11 a.m.. and  historian John Templeton will speak about San Francisco's African American Freedom Trail from 2-3 p.m.. Feb. 25.


The San Francisco Travel Association is the official destination marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit www.sftravel.com, read the Visitors Planning Guide or call 415-391-2000.  

San Francisco Travel operates Visitor Information Centers at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market St. at the corner of Powell and Market streets, and on the lower level of Macy's Union Square.  San Francisco Travel is also a partner at the California Welcome Center at PIER 39.  

American Express® is the official Card partner of the San Francisco Travel Association.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 46 international cities on 39 international carriers. The Bay Area's largest airport connects non-stop with 79 cities in the U.S. on 13 domestic airlines. SFO is proud to offer upgraded free Wi-Fi with no advertising. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit www.flysfo.com.  Follow SFO on www.twitter.com/flysfo and  www.facebook.com/flysfo.   

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