From art exhibits to panel discussions, a list of Black History Month events in Kalamazoo

KALAMAZOO, MI — As calendar pages are flipped to February and Black History Month is once again celebrated, numerous events are happening in and around Kalamazoo with an ear and eye on Black culture and history.

Panel discussions, art exhibits, presentations, a night of trivia and soul food and events geared toward youth are all planned. Here’s a sampling of a few events scheduled for this coming month:

“Africa, Imagined” exhibit at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts: An exhibit inspired by the ideas, truths and myths surrounding African art, “Africa, Imagined: Reflections on Modern and Contemporary Art,” is on display at the museum, at 314 S. Park St., throughout the month of February. The exhibit, which opened Jan. 22, features mostly West African works of art spanning the 20th and 21st centuries, and hones in on three main themes — escapism, social inquiry and cultural reclamation.

The exhibit will be open for viewing from 11 am – 5 pm Wednesdays-Saturdays and from noon to 4 pm on Sundays, through May 1. Adult admission is $5, children under 12 are free and older students pay $2. Visit for more information and other upcoming museum events.

First US Black female prisoner of war comes to Portage: Shoshana Johnson, a second-generation Army veteran and author of “I’m Still Standing: From Captive US Soldier to Free Citizen – My Journey Home,” will be in Portage on Feb. 5 to share her story of being taken as a prisoner of war in 2003 in Iraq.

The book signing and presentation will include a question and answer session and is free and open to the public. Doors open at 5:30 pm, and the presentation begins at 6 pm at the Air Zoo, 6151 Portage Road. A limited number of books will be available for purchase.

Trivia & Soul Food Night: Billed as a “game night like no other,” attendees will have their knowledge of Black history, culture, shows and music tested, all while enjoying delicious Southern cuisine. The event, hosted by the Black Arts & Cultural Center, will take place from 6-9 pm, Friday, Feb. 25, at 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 102. Tickets cost $20 per person and can be purchased online at the Black Arts & Cultural Center website.

What A Time To Be Alive: A conversation about the past and the future ahead will be hosted by the Black Arts & Cultural Center. A panel of local plan a conversation centered around growing up in and being a part of the civil rights movement as well as being involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.

The panel will be a live discussion at the cultural center, but closed to attendees due to the recent rise in coronavirus cases. The discussion will be viewable in real time as well as archived on the cultural center’s Facebook page. The time is tentatively set for noon to 1:30 pm on Wednesday, Feb. 9, but subject to change. Please follow the cultural center’s social media sites and main website for updated information.

Black Arts Exhibit: The third annual event is being hosted by Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Center for New Media. The show, which will highlight the works of local Black artists, will “offer a shared connection to the rich Black cultural heritage in the Kalamazoo area.”

Put on in collaboration with the Black Arts Cultural Center and the Metropolitan Kalamazoo branch of the NAACP, the Black Arts Exhibit opens Friday, Feb. 4, and will be open for online viewing throughout the month of February on the Center for New Media Facebook page. Physical works will be on display in the Arcus Gallery, located on KVCC’s Arcadia Commons Campus at 100 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Kalamazoo. The exhibit is available for viewing during the gallery’s open hours, which are 11 am – 3 pm Mondays and Wednesday-Friday weekly.

Kalamazoo Public Library hosts series of presentations: From a “Conversation on Anti-Racism” slated for Feb. 8 to Uprooting White Supremacy in Organizations” on Feb. 9 and “Equitable Hiring Practices” on Feb. 17, the library has numerous online discussions planned for Black History Month.

Visit the Kalamazoo Public Library website for a complete calendar.

Build Your Future Career Exploration and Planning Workshop: Geared towards high school students, the Michigan State University 4-H Program has partnered with the Black Arts & Cultural Center to present a program to aid students in career exploration and future planning.

The six-week program begins Tuesday, Feb. 1, at the Black Arts & Cultural Center and will be held at 4:30 pm weekly at the center, located at 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 102. All materials needed will be provided at no cost.

A panel discussion: “Sharing the Black Experience:” The discussion is one of numerous events being hosted by Kellogg Community College for Black History Month. Panelists include KCC President Adrien Bennings, actor/singer Altamiece Cooper, educator Kenneth Jackson, Southwestern Michigan Urban League President/CEO Kyra Wallace and Battle Creek Community Foundation Development Officer Lynn Ward Gray.

The free event will take place from 6:30 – 8 pm Thursday, Feb. 3, at the Binda Performing Arts Center, 450 North Ave. in Battle Creek.

Also on MLive:

First US Black female prisoner of war will speak at Air Zoo event in Portage

‘Africa, Imagined’ exhibit opens Jan. 22 at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Kalamazoo factory did not cap wastewater clarifier to reduce toxic gas odor, as recommended in report

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