2021 Black History Month online events (updated)


The MSR celebrates Black History Month every day of the year and enjoys a living legacy as one of the state’s oldest Black businesses.

This year, Black History Month will naturally look and feel differently than previous years due to the ongoing pandemic—and thus, more online event offerings—but also the intensified racial animosity in the face of ongoing calls for racial justice and equity across the nation.

Below we’ve highlighted a few of the many local online events taking place. Make sure to check back often as this list will continue to be updated as the month unfolds.

To submit your event for consideration, go to msrnewsonline@spokesman-recorder.com. You may also add your event, free-of-charge at spokesman-recorder.com/events.

Monday, February 1 (through Sunday, February 28)

Courtesy of MAAHMG

The Role of the Arts and Artists in Social Justice Movements

The Minnesota African American Heritage Museum & Gallery (MAAHMG) and Hennepin County Library invite community members to observe Black History Month by exploring the intersection of art and activism. This collaboration offers three short films to reflect upon the role of arts and artists in social justice movements as you watch these three short films. Enjoy films: “Black Lives Matter – The Making of the Mural in Minneapolis;” “UN-HEARD,” and “Save The Boards to Memorialize The Movement” as they stream the entire month of February.

For more info, visit bit.ly/maahmgBHM.

“28 Days of Black Excellence”

@ 9 am

VocalEssence will showcase Black achievement in the arts and beyond each day of Black History Month as part of its daily pandemic show, “Take 5 with GPS,” featuring G. Phillip Shoultz, III, associate conductor, and director of learning & engagement programs.

Programming will be available live every day of the month of February on YouTube or Facebook, and archived for later viewing.

For more info, visit www.vocalessence.org/28-days-of-black-excellence.

Tuesday, February 23

Realizing Wakanda

@ 5:30-8 pm

Join this interactive forum that responds to Minnesota’s education disparities that are becoming greater among Black scholars (students).

The African American Leadership Forum (AALF) and Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) are partnering to host a Cultural Education Forum conceived, designed, and developed by AALF’s 2020 Collective Impact Workstream. This group is comprised of African American thought leaders and changemakers who work to envision how the Black community can influence the education ecosystem.

If you are unable to attend both sessions, feel free to register for either day independently.

$10 each day, $20 for both days. To register, go here.

Wednesday, February 3


Fireside Reading Series: Yelena Bailey

@ 7-8 pm

Cozy up in the comfort of your own home for a chat with Yelena Bailey, Ph.D. is a writer, researcher, and former professor of English and cultural studies. As part of the Friends of the St. Paul Library’s Fireside Reading Series, Bailey will read from her book “How the Streets Were Made: Housing Segregation and Black Life in America.”

This is a free online event via Zoom. For more info, go to thefriends.org/fireside.

Thursday, February 4

MSR Forefront: The Case For Reparations

@ 6-7 pm

The MSR’s digital roundtable series Forefront kicks off Black History Month with a timely conversation about reparations for African Americans, in light of the St. Paul City Council’s newly proposed Slavery Reparations Commission

Featured guests St. Paul Recovery Act and Reparations Steering Committee Chair Trahern Crews and St. Paul City Councilmember Jane Prince.

This free conversation will take place on MSR’s Facebook page.

Monday, February 8

. “Listen! Please!” Documentary Virtual Premieres Feb 8.

“Listen! Please!” documentary premiere

@ 6 pm

To mark the start of Black History Month, local music legend J.D. Steele will premiere a new documentary, “Listen! Please!,” that he executive produced, along with Penny Winton and Karl Demer.

 “Listen! Please!” features the testimonials of four elite octogenarians: Elder Mahmoud El Kati, Macalester college professor emeritus, lecturer; Dr. Josie Johnson, Minnesota civil rights activist; Bill English, consulting project director for the Northside Job Creation Team (NJCT); and Sallie Steele Birdsong, J.D.’s mother. 

Through personal stories and moving recollections of their past, these distinguished individuals recount the ways that systemic racism has impacted them throughout their lives. 

The free screening will take place on Facebook and YouTube. The film will be available to stream on these platforms afterward. Donations made during the screening will benefit The Capri Theater, which supports disadvantaged youth and adults in the North Minneapolis community. 

Wednesday, February 10

Fireside Reading Series: Carolyn Holbrook

@ 7-8 pm

Tune in for this chat with renowned author Carolyn Holbrook, who will read from her book “Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify: Essays. The Fireside Reading Series is made possible through the St. Paul Public Library’s ongoing partnership with Hamline Midway Library.

This is a free online event via Zoom. To view, go to thefriends.org/fireside.

Thursday, February 11

Reckoning with Racial Justice

@ 12-1 pm

The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights will once again celebrate Black History Month with a series of events, in partnership with the Minneapolis Black Employee Network (a City of Minneapolis employee resource group) and the Hennepin County People of Color Employee Resource Group.

View the event here.

Friday, February 12

Bee Love and the Co-Benefits of Solar: Valentine’s book reading

@ 1-2 pm

Join Justice Alan Page and his daughter, Kamie Page, for a special reading of their fourth book, “Bee Love (Can Be Hard).” This event marks the perfect occasion to celebrate Black History Month and the importance of the environment.

For more info, go here.

Saturday, February 13


Minnesota’s Black Community Project Presents: The African American Community and the COVID-19 Pandemic

@ 11 am -12:30 pm

Featured panelists: Minnesota Association of Black Physicians, Nathan Chomilo, M.D., Zeke McKinney, M.D., and Charles E. Crutchfield, III M.D., will provide the African American community with specific info and insight to better manage and protect themselves against this highly contagious and deadly virus. A Q&A period will follow the discussion. The event is hosted by Minnesota’s Black Community Project.

To register, go to bit.ly/AACOVIDVaccine. A link for the event will be emailed to each registrant.

Wednesday, February 17

TESTIFY: The Past is Present

@ 7-8 pm

Join Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page for a dialogue about items from the “TESTIFY Exhibit,” which debuted at Minneapolis Central Library’s Cargill Gallery in 2018. The program will revisit items from American history curated by the Diane and Alan Page Collection, helping to ground and provide a context for current events.

This is a free online event. For more info, and to register go to https://bit.ly/TESTIFY_HCL.

Thursday, February 18

2021 History Makers at Home

@ 12-1 pm

In celebration of Black History Month, the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is honoring several community leaders as part of the History Makers at Home program – a profile series featuring inspirational leaders in a wide range of fields. This year’s recipients include Abdullahi Abdulle, New Brighton City Councilmember; Robert Sayers, Rental Housing Liaison and Fire Inspector, City of Minneapolis and advocate for advancing civil rights; Valery Jensen, City of St. Paul Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity, Director and Azon Consulting, Founder & President; Alice Roberts-Davis, Minnesota Department of Administration, Commissioner; Tawanna Black, Center for Economic Inclusion, Founder & CEO; Freddie Bell, KMOJ, General Manager; Jamil Jackson, Change Equals Opportunity (CEO), Founder & Executive Director and Minnesota Freedom Fighters; Calvin Littlejohn, and Tri Construction, Founder & CEO.

View the event here.

The Black Liberation Movement

@ 3- 4 pm

This free event features distinguished University of St. Thomas professor Dr. Yohuru Williams and a panel of Black history-keepers as they chart the evolution of Black protest in Minnesota and on a national scale, from slavery through today.

This program will be streamed live on the Minnesota Historical Society Facebook Page and also available as a recording later on Facebook and YouTube.

Saturday, February 20

A Conversation with Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery Co-founders

@ 2-3 pm

Minnesota African American Heritage Museum & Gallery Cofounders Tina Burnside and Coventry Cowens will discuss how the museum was founded, its mission, exhibitions and programs. The discussion will also talk about the role the museum plays in being the only African American history museum in the State of Minnesota, followed by a Q&A session.

For more info, visit bit.ly/3pF6ght.

Sunday, February 21


Livestream: Robert Robinson Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. & Black History Month

@ 7 pm

Robert Robinson raises his voice to perform music that exemplifies the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month. From the gospel sounds of Rev. James Cleveland and Mahalia Jackson to the more subtle messages of freedom and hope by artists like John Lennon, Sam Cooke, Pop “Roebuck” Staples, Mavis Staples and Bob Dylan, Robinson’s concert is sure to inspire and uplift every listener. 

$15. For tickets, go to bit.ly/39ZZ4Wm

Tuesday, February 23

Black Voters Matter! A Virtual Town Hall with LaTosha Brown

@ 4-6 pm

Join Metropolitan State University for a Virtual Town Hall with LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund and the Black Voters Matter (BVM) Capacity Building Institute.

An in-demand public speaker, LaTosha Brown is a distinguished trusted expert on political strategy, organizing, civil rights, economic development, wealth creation, and rural issues over a 20-year career. The Black Voters Matter Fund was credited with energizing and turning out voters in Georgia’s historic 2020 Presidential Election as well as the 2021 run-off.

The event is free, but registration is required. For more info, go to www.metrostate.edu/calendar/black-voters-matter-virtual-town-hall

How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote & Insisted on Equality for All, with Martha Jones

@ 6:30-8 pm

This Minnesota Historical Society history forum, acclaimed historian Dr. Martha S. Jones will offer a new history of African American women’s political lives in America. In this lecture, she’ll recounts how Black women defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons.

The event will take place on Zoom. Suggested support for MNHS members is $5; $10 suggested for general public.

For more info, go to www.mnhs.org/event/8565.

Good Trouble

“John Lewis: Good Trouble” Film Screening – MN Peacebuilding Film Series

@ 7-9 pm

As part of its monthly Peacebuilding Film Series, the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute is inviting community members to a screening of the acclaimed documentary “John Lewis: Good Trouble.” The film offers an intimate account of legendary U.S. Representative John Lewis’s life, legacy and more than 60 years of extraordinary activism.

This screening is free and open to the public. To register, go here.

Wednesday, February 24

This Free North” Documentary Panel Discussion

@ 5 pm

Stream the Emmy-winning documentary “This Free North” at your convenience all month long, hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Multicultural Student Engagement department. This brief film showcases Black history at the University of Minnesota and its connection to contemporary students. Join in for the panel discussion to further explore the institution’s complex and ongoing history in an effort to cultivate a more all-inclusive and equitable future.

To view and find more MSEC Black History Month events, go here.

Thursday, February 25


 Virtual Leadership Conference, Leadership Any Means Necessary

@5 pm

With the theme of exploring collectivism, innovation, and activation, this three-day conference by the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) will gather current community leaders, changemakers, and innovators to engage participants in an intergenerational dialogue about ways that provide purposeful and sustainable impact in our community. 

$25. To register, go here.

Grateful and Rooted

@ 12-1 pm

This is the last of a trio of Black History Month events sponsored in partnership with the Minneapolis Black Employee Network (a City of Minneapolis employee resource group) and the Hennepin County People of Color Employee Resource Group.

Join the event here.

Race, Riot, and Law Enforcement

@ 6-8 pm

Join Metropolitan State University students, faculty, staff, and community in a virtual panel discussion to explore how race factors in the relationship between riots and law enforcement—past and present—using the examples of the New York Attica Prison Riot of 1971 as well as the failed police reform in Minneapolis during the 1980s.

This event is free. To register, go here.

James L. Stroud, Jr./MSR News BLACKOUT players: Andy Hilbrands, John Gebretatose, Joy Dolo Anfinson and Alsa Bruno

BLACKOUT History Month!

@ 7 pm

BLACKOUT, the first all-black improv group in Minnesota, is celebrating Black History Month with a virtual show featuring the group’s trademark mix of comedy, social justice and arts access. Since 2015, their unique format of conversation-inspired improv has been the catalyst for hard conversations with levity.

To register, go here. Virtual doors open at 7 pm, show starts at 7:15 pm. This event is hosted by the Sumner Library staff.

Saturday, February 27

Save the Boards to Memorialize the Movement

@ 2-3 pm

Join a conversation with Save the Boards founder Kenda Zellner-Smith and Memorialize the Movement founder Leesa Kelly who have partnered with MAAHMG to collect, preserve and archive the plywood art murals that were created after the killing of George Floyd. Leesa and Kenda have collected over 500 boards from Twin Cities businesses.

This is a free online event on Microsoft Teams. Register here.

Robert Robinson Celebrates Black History Month

@ 5 pm

Celebrate Black history and excellence with the glorious sounds of “MN’s Master Male Vocalist” Robert Robinson There are two ways to experience this show! You can enjoy the show indoors at Crooners Supper Club’s newly redesigned indoor spaces or create your own at-home supper club experience via live stream pay-per-view. $35-$40.

For in-person tickets, go www.eventbrite.com/e/138316579613. For pay-per-view tickets, go to www.crowdcast.io/e/robert-robinson.

Did we miss your event? Let us know about it @ msrnews@spokesman-recorder.com.