Black History Month: Upcoming Social Justice Talks & Events in NYC

By Alison Durkee

We’re more than halfway through Black History Month, but there are still plenty of ways to catch up and learn more about the African-American community and its rich history. Discover black history—even after the month comes to a close—and the fight for social justice at these upcoming talks and events.

United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division

Spend Black History Month learning more about the civil rights movement with upcoming events centered around Malcolm X, who will be celebrated with a pop-up exhibition at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture February 21, and the forgotten history of black motorists and the network that sprung up to keep them safe (February 20). Other events will focus on black artists and writers who left an indelible impression on our culture, from Zora Neale Hurston, whose impact on literature will be the focus of a February 24 event, to musician Chuck Berry, who will be celebrated at a documentary preview screening and panel discussion at the Paley Center on February 27.

Music fans should also look forward to a February 23 concert celebrating the women of jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. A February 27 event, meanwhile, will celebrate black women in ballet, in a panel discussion with four pioneering African-American ballerinas.

Of course, there’s still much more to learn about black figures past and present even after February comes to an end. Kick off March by honoring Harry Belafonte, as the legendary singer’s 93rd birthday is celebrated at the Apollo Theater, or pay tribute to late literary giant Toni Morrison on March 18. As Black History Month ends and Women’s History Month begins, the Schomburg Center will hold sessions each Monday celebrating both known and unsung female jazz artists, starting March 2 with Hazel Scott. The Schomburg Center will also look March 5 at the long struggle in the 20th century against educational injustice, and the black women and girls who often led the way.

Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.

Other upcoming events will continue the legacy of fighting for social justice that so many black trailblazers have paved the way for. As the 2020 election gets underway, learn more about the fight for fair elections and combating voter suppression, which disproportionately disadvantages voters of color, at a panel discussion February 21. Another governmental branch will then take the spotlight on February 27, as journalist Adam Cohen discusses ongoing injustices from the U.S. Supreme Court, which particularly discriminate against marginalized communities. That same day, water activism will be the focus of a panel discussion at the Lenfest Center of the Arts, as experts discuss a problem that has plagued diverse communities like Detroit and Flint, Michigan.

On February 26, the Brooklyn Historical Society will examine bias in the workplace with a panel discussion that unpacks both racial and gender-based workplace discrimination. Of course, overt acts of employee discrimination aren’t the only thing to look at when it comes to the economy and race. A March 25 event at the Schomburg Center will look at the multi-billion dollar diversity industry that’s sprung up in response to social justice efforts—and how as it grows, its goals of equity and inclusion are nevertheless floundering.

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