Brooklyn neighborhoods are some of the most diverse in New York City and as we enter into Black History Month, here our top picks for educational experiences that celebrate black culture, influence and impact – because these histories are American history.
Ride the revolution
The City’s Movie in the Parks initiative will screen “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution”. The poignant documentary combines archival footage and interviews with surviving Panthers and FBI agents to tell the story of the revolutionary black organization Black Panther Party. History meets mystery as the film demystifies one of the 20th century’s most alluring and controversial organizations that captivated the world’s attention for nearly 50 years.
The event takes place on Friday February 5 at 6:30pm to 8:30pm at St. Johns Recreation Center, 1251 Prospect Place, Brooklyn. Admission is free.
Green with history
From the post of the town to the toast of a movement, Victor H. Green was a postal worker during the mid 1930s who compiled the Green Book – a network of white and black-owned businesses that would welcome African American travelers throughout the South during segregation. Green’s work served as a compass for African Americans to travel safely for nearly 30 years, until the passing of the Civil Rights at in 1964, when publication of the guide ceased.
Awareness of this crucial navigational gem faded with time until award-winning author and playwright Calvin Alexander Ramsey put it back on tbe map in the documentary “The Green Book Chronicles” that follows the smooth and rough journey the users Green Book endured.
Brooklyn Historical Society will host a conversation with Ramsey, who will share raw footage from the unreleased film.
The event takes place on Thursday February 18 from 6:30pm at Brooklyn Historical Society. Admission is free.
A revolution’s muse(um)
Brooklyn Museum Target’s First Saturdays will be a chorus of culture with music from 5pm by Ahanu and Tai Allen present The Originals. A live mix-tape will honor the progressive music and poetry of legends Gil Scott-Heron and Oscar Brown, Jr.
Lose yourself to the tune of interactive activities with the Museum of Impact. At 8pm, the #VeryBlackProject and #TeamMelanin host a celebration that harmonizes the great work of our predecessors with the inspiration to encourage us to fight for the futures we want.
For those looking to get their hands arty, be inspired by the art of Romare Bearden and create a collage portrait or self-portrait using special papers.
Moving on with a movie and monologues, there will be a screening of “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” followed by a conversation with Stanley Nelson and Elizabeth Sackler; while The New Black Fest presents “HANDS UP: 7 Testaments”, a series of monologues by emerging black playwrights exploring their experiences with racial profiling and policing – followed by a Q&A with performers.
Other moments to get you dancing and thinking include a performance by Brooklyn-based Latasha Alcindor, aka L.A., and DJ Afro Panther and NonVisuals; a workshop led by organizer, abolitionist, and freedom fighter Joshua Allen exploring the important intersection between organizing around Black Lives Matter and gender justice; and a book club on “Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party” by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin (2013) and “From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist” by Bob Avakian (2005).
Twirl, dip, shimmy and entrance your night away to a kaleidoscope of pop, R&B and soul thanks to Brooklyn-bred singer and sonic storyteller, Charles Perry.
The event takes place on Saturday February 6 from 5pm at Brooklyn Museum. Admission is free.
Trolleying down memory lane
The journey from segregation and activism to diversity and progress has many layers and Green-Wood Cemetery’s trolley tour will examine the life and accomplishments of many prominent black New Yorkers, as well as several abolitionists working for freedom in America.
Led by Green-Wood Historian Jeff Richman, you’ll visit the monuments of Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first black female doctor in the state; Jean-Michel Basquiat, innovative artist of the 1970s and ’80s; Jeremiah Hamilton, New York’s first black millionaire; civil war heroes and survivors; freed slaves working as abolitionists, and more.
You’ll dive into the lives of those who were rough, tough and who had had enough of the status quo – striving for equality and exemplifying the deep impact black New Yorkers have been making on New York City culture since its inception.
The event takes place on Saturday February 27 from 1pm to 3pm at Green-Wood Cemetery. Admission is $15 for members and $20 for non-members.