Celebrate 2023 Black History Month in Kansas City
Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, is a national celebration that recognizes the accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history. Locally, this celebration recognizes the countless Black individuals and groups who shaped KC’s cultural institutions, from chronicling their participation in the Great War to the founding of the Negro National League in 1920.
Past, present and future, the African American community is vital to Kansas City’s story. Below is list of special celebrations in February and ongoing exhibits that commemorate KC’s rich Black history.
Check this page often as February approaches. New events will be added as they are announced.
SPECIAL EVENTS AND EXHIBITS
- Feb. 11 – Jammin' at the Gem with Eric Roberson | The American Jazz Museum commemorates its 25th anniversary with a series of performances at the Gem Theater. During this month's show, Grammy nominee Eric Roberson brings his original perspectives on R&B and soul sounds as an independent artist who has been performing for more than 20 years.
- For more information, visit americanjazzmuseum.org.
- Feb. 23 – Setting the Stage: The Moving Story of African American Dance | Setting the Stage is a visual journey through African American dance history. Setting the Stage is performed by talented local and national artists demonstrating the evolution of American dance styles since the Middle Passage and chronicles historically important dancers and choreographers including Katherine Dunham and Alvin Ailey. 7 p.m. The Gem Theater.
- For more information, visit kcfaa.org.
- Feb. 3-4 – Störling Dance Theater's UNDERGROUND | The Störling Dance Theater presents the story of the Underground Railroad as never before, featuring original music and stunning costumes. Times vary. Tickets start at $30.
- Feb. 3-5 – Kansas City Symphony Presents Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin | The Queen of Soul broke records as a singer and shaped history as an activist. The Kansas City Symphony celebrates her far-reaching legacy with a musical tribute.
- Feb. 24 – Kansas City Jazz Orchestra Presents The Future feat. Lee Langston and Eboni Fondren | Join the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, as well as local stars and emerging artists, for an all-encompassing reflection and celebration of the dynamic jazz genre.
- For more information or to purchase tickets, visit kauffmancenter.org.
- Nearly every day of the month offers an event or activity in recognition of Black History Month, taking place at Mid-Continent Public Library locations throughout the area and online. Book clubs, art explorations, historical perspectives, family-focused performances and even more opportunities are available.
- All events are free. For the full calendar, visit mymcpl.org
- Throughout February – Visit the museum for free all month long. For the second year, the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities are covering admission for the month of February, inviting area residents and visitors to commemorate Black History Month by learning the stories of baseball players who reshaped the game (and the country) forever.
Created in collaboration with a variety of partners and historical institutions throughout the community, the African American Heritage Trail of Kansas City, MO offers a self-guided opportunity to visit relevant historical sites across the city. aathkc.org
The American Jazz Museum, located in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District, where jazz masters such as Charlie Parker, Count Basie and hundreds of others defined the sounds of the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s in Kansas City. The museum includes interactive exhibits and educational programs. americanjazzmuseum.org
Hundreds of historic images as well as notable collections of civil rights activists, the Buffalo soldiers and more are available online through the Black Archives digital gallery. blackarchives.org
One of two KC-area locations on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail (along with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum), the renovated Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum explores a pivotal time in the nation's civil rights history through the lens of Truman's presidency. The institution examines transformative pieces of legislation and shifting cultural forces that shaped progress in the 1940s, '50s and '60s. trumanlibrary.gov
Best known for his portraits of jazz performers, fellow artists and other creative individuals, Frederick James Brown created Kemper Museum's monumental work The History of Art (1994/2000), a series of 110 paintings that line the walls of Café Sebastienne. The exhibition features paintings from the Kemper Museum's permanent collection, a significant holder of the artist's works. kemperart.org
The Library offers numerous resources to learn about black history, including several online databases that include African American History Online; Black Thought and Culture; Slavery and Anti-Slavery and Slavery, Abolition & Social Justice, 1490-2007. mymcpl.org/blackhistory
More than 100 years old, the Mutual Musicians Foundation can be found in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District. The Foundation was originally home to the Black Musicians' Protective Union Local 627 American Federation of Musicians. This national historic landmark hosts fierce late-night jam sessions on Fridays and Saturdays. thefoundationjamson.org
Online – Make Way for Democracy! | This online exhibition portrays the lives of African Americans during the war through a series of rare images, documents and objects. The exhibit was created in partnership with the Google Cultural Institute and explores efforts to redefine citizenship, while improving social, political and economic conditions.
Ongoing | The permanent museum exhibit showcases African American men serving in cavalry, infantry, signal, medical, engineer and artillery units, as well as serving as chaplains, surveyors, truck drivers, chemists and intelligence officers. African American women are also highlighted, as many were employed in several war industries, including munitions production. theworldwar.org
A frequent stop for visiting dignitaries and celebrities, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro National League—the country’s first successful organized black baseball league. Enjoy special programming, new exhibits and more starting February through November. nlbm.com
Located on the Missouri River, Quindaro began as a boomtown and evolved into a stop on the Underground Railroad. Artifacts are on display at the Wyandotte County Museum. wycokck.org