Celebrate Black History Month Around Town

Nardos Osterhart tells touching stories from her past in a humorous way, and ends her performance with a standup set that helped her win 2013’s Funniest Person in Grand Rapids.

by Bri Kilroy • photography by Two Eagles Marcus

The annual, month-long celebration of the critical contributions African-Americans have made to history was once a weeklong phase that added bits of black history education into the public school curriculum. That “phase” extended to an entire month of observance, events and festivities among the dynamic collection of races and cultures that make up American history. Some of our favorite places for celebrating are right here in Grand Rapids.

Films and Performance

Join Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) for a film screening followed by collective discussion.

  • February 3: Dear White People. Kirkof Center (room 2266). 4 p.m.
  • February 9: Rosa Parks: A Modern Day Heroine. Kirkof Center (room 1201). Noon.
  • February 17: School Daze. Kirkof Center (room 2266). 4 p.m.
  • February 16: Conversations of Color: Black Representations on TV. Kirkof Center (room 1240). Noon.

Wealthy Theatre presents African-born American, Nardos Osterhart in her one-woman show that shares touching stories of her past doused in her signature humor that won her the title of Funniest Person in Grand Rapids 2013.

  • February 20: Halfrican. Koning Micro-cinema at Wealthy Theatre. 7 p.m.


GVSU introduces lectures and presentations by prime speakers to share their expertise and engage listeners in black history.

  • February 2: History of Black History Month presentation by Dr. Pero Dagbovie. Kirkof Center (room 2263). 4 p.m.
  • February 11: A Tribute to Black Women: Strong, Fierce and Dynamic Divas. Kirkof Center (Pere Marquette). Noon.
  • February 15: Professionals of Color lecture by David Banner. Kirkof Center (Grand River Room). 6 p.m.

Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council recognizes the early societies organized by African Americans in Grand Rapids

  • February 11: Community Builders: Early African Women in Grand Rapids. John F. Donnelly Conference Center at Aquinas College. 7 p.m.

GRPL invites guests to explore and discuss this impacting history

  • February 16: Before the Blues: explore the roots of African American music with Reverend Robert Jones. Ryerson Auditorium at the Main Library. 6:30 p.m.
  • February 18: Women of Color in the Workplace: Building a Career. Main Library. 7 p.m.

GRCC Lecture Series XXI celebrates 21 years of diverse voices.

  • February 17: Benjamin Todd Jealous, former NAACP president presents Mass Incarceration and Justice in America at Fountain Street Church at 7 pm.

Taste of Soul

Indulge in the innovative culinary tradition of soul food.

  • February 19: Taste of Soul in the GVSU Kirkof Center Lobby. Noon-1 p.m.
  • February 21: Taste of Soul Sunday at the Grand Rapids Public Library. 1-4:30 p.m. This free afternoon event features kids activities, performances and food. Listen, learn, play and eat.

Soulful Concerts

Celebrate the effect and sanctuary an expressive music style provided African-Americans during the most difficult periods in our history.

  • February 24: Jazz and the Civil Rights Movement. Cook DeWitt Center. 3-4 p.m.
  • February 27: Symphony with Soul concert. DeVos Performance Hall. 8 p.m.


From a festival that features ethnic music, dance, crafts and food under one roof to an event recognizing the legacy of special nominees to a gala that connects people through an evening of socializing and a soulful concert, Grand Rapids isn’t missing a chance to celebrate the history that makes up America.

  • February 6: Ethnic Heritage Festival at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • February 6: 34th Annual Giants Awards & Banquet at Devos Place.
  • February 26: Legacy Luncheon and Ball. Legacy Awards Luncheon is held at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Legacy Ball is held at JW Marriott from 6:15-10 p.m.
  • February 27: Celebration of the Soul Gala features a social hour, dinner and admission to Symphony with Soul followed by a post-concert party.


  • Visit Bayard Art Consulting and Frame Shop, experts in 20th and 21st century African and American Art, memorabilia and rare books at 1050 Fisk SE.


Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumna who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio.




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