Black History Month 2021 to Highlight the Black Family, Leadership and Service
November 16, 2020 2:47 PM
by Delana Gbenekama
Every February, people across the nation come together for events and activities to celebrate Black History Month. It’s a time for us to continue our collective journey of honoring and deepening our knowledge of the history and contributions of African Americans and people of African descent that have been marginalized from mainstream curricula and discussions because of our country’s legacy of slavery, and institutional and structural racism. The City of Santa Monica’s Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) cohort and Black History Month Committee will offer a roster of events and activities in February 2021 to highlight the history, diversity and achievements of our local Black community and the Black community nationwide. This year, events will be held virtually to keep us all safe during COVID-19.
The theme for Black History Month 2021 is The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity and is set every year by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History®, an organization founded in 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the famed African American historian known as the “Father of Black History.” Much of the programming for Santa Monica’s Black History Month events and activities aligns with the theme, with discussions by community members about their family histories and contributions to the city, reflections by current and/or former residents on memories of Historic Belmar Park and the Belmar History + Arts Project commemorating its history, and a community conversation about the novel “Saving Ruby King,” which explores trauma, friendships and secrets that intertwine families for generations.
We hope you will join us for these free learning opportunities that are food for our minds, bodies and souls. While we would love to hold in-person fellowships with you, we instead will meet you in virtual spaces for our events and activities as we continue to exercise caution during the COVID-19 pandemic. RSVP details for each event and activity are listed below.
In addition to participating in our Black History Month event programming, we encourage you to visit our Black-owned businesses page to discover local entrepreneurs you can support and our equity page featuring information about the Black Agenda for Santa Monica and the newly formed Santa Monica Black Lives Association, a nonprofit organization formed by Black community leaders.
Zumba with Miss Debi
When: Tuesday, February 2 at 6:30 p.m.
Description: Join us for a mix of low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party. People of all ages and fitness levels are welcome to join. RSVP: eventbrite.com/e/zumba-with-miss-debi-tickets-129097601401
The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity
When: Thursday, February 4 at 10:30 a.m.
Description: Join us for the Black History Month opening ceremony on Rosa Parks Day. The event will feature a discussion by local families highlighting the diversity, identity and history of Santa Monica’s Black community. There will also be special dance performances and small segments highlighting the cooking traditions of Black families. Community members are asked to submit their family stories by January 10, 2021 for the chance to be featured during the opening ceremony and/or on the City’s blog.
Bingo with comedienne Angel Gaines
When: Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 12 p.m.
Description: Laugh your way through an hour-long Black History Month-themed bingo facilitated by comedienne Angel Gaines. Learn about Black history while trying your luck at winning coveted prizes.
Catherine Adel West Discusses “Saving Ruby King”
When: Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 12 p.m.
Description: Author Catherine Adel West joins the Santa Monica community for a book reading and conversation about her debut novel, “Saving Ruby King,” which explores trauma, friendships and secrets that intertwine families for generations. Digital and print copies of “Saving Ruby King” are available through the Santa Monica Public Library. To check out a copy, visit smpl.org. Need a Library card? Sign up at smpl.org/Getting_a_Card.aspx.
Historic Belmar Park: Preserving History through Stories and Art
When: Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 6 p.m.
Description: Join historian Alison Rose Jefferson and social practice artist April Banks for a discussion about the Belmar History + Art Project, including the outdoor exhibition that will soon encircle the new park, Historic Belmar Park. The outdoor exhibition features a monumental new artwork, A Resurrection in Four Stanzas, and interpretative story panels which are an outgrowth of the book "Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era." These and other features of the Belmar History + Art Project commemorate the history of the Historic Belmar Park area and other South Santa Monica Beach neighborhoods that were home to a thriving African American community until they were displaced in the 1950s. Keeping this history alive is a goal of the Belmar History + Art project and the Santa Monica Black Lives Association, the nonprofit organization founded by Black community leaders spearheading the creation of the Black Agenda.
More Information: santamonica.gov/arts/belmar
Afro-Joy Dance Party with Tatiana Zamir
When: Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Description: The Afro-Joy Dance Party is for all bodies and levels of experience to embody joy, healing and connect with community. This follow-along dance party is mainly inspired by Afro-diasporic music and movement. Come feel your heartbeat guide you to the rhythms while we elevate our spirit, our health and each other. Tatiana Zamir is a dancer, performing artist and movement instructor who has spent a lifetime of training and exploration of the body as a vehicle for healing and awakening to our highest destiny.
Celebrating Black Excellence Community Awards
When: Thursday, February 25, 2021 at 6 p.m.
Description: Join us for the 2nd annual Black Excellence Community Awards to honor Black professionals in Santa Monica for outstanding leadership and service. The City of Santa Monica's Black History Month Committee is accepting nominations for professionals who will be honored. Nominees must live or work in Santa Monica. The deadline for submissions is January 10, 2021. Click here to submit nominations. Additionally, the City is accepting in memoriam submissions to honor Santa Monica community members we lost in 2020, including residents, employees and business owners. Click here to submit in memoriam entries by January 10, 2021.