February is African American and Black History Month, a time to recognize, celebrate, and honor the rich and diverse history and important contributions and achievements of Black and African Americans. 

This year, the celebration has moved online, giving access to events that would otherwise be limited to only those who could attend in person.

In Washington DC, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have all come together to honor African American culture and history, and to recognize the challenges and horrors faced in the struggle for equality and equal rights. Visit www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov for a full listing of events and activities. 

There is a wide range of programming all month long, but highlights include  “Giants of Racial Justice,” a discussion with authors Peniel E. Joseph, and Tamara Payne, about their respective books on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr, with NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. The event will premiere on Facebook and Youtube on February 18, and will also be available at the Library of Congress website: www.loc.gov

Closer to home, join historian Alison Rose Jefferson and social practice artist April Banks for a look at African American history in Santa Monica. The discussion takes place on February 16, from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom, and is focused on the Belmar History + Art Project, including the outdoor exhibition that will soon encircle newly established Historic Belmar Park. 

This new exhibition features a monumental new artwork: “A Resurrection in Four Stanzas”, and interpretative story panels which are an outgrowth of Jefferson’s 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,” a press release for the event states. 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.” For more information and to RSVP go to  santamonica.gov/arts/belmar