The City of Urbana Commemorates Black History Month
National African American History Month, or what is more popularly known as Black History Month, is an occasion to rediscover the enduring stories of African Americans and the gifts of freedom, purpose, and opportunity they have bestowed on future generations.
Locally, here in the City of Urbana, it is also a time to commemorate the countless contributions of Urbana African Americans that have enriched every fiber of the vibrancy that exists in Urbana today. While commemorating these efforts, The City also acknowledges that many Urbana African Americans have also lived through and surmounted the scourge of segregation, racial prejudice, and discrimination. The City of Urbana wholeheartedly recognizes the ongoing struggles that her African American citizens have had to endure to fairly level the environment in which they work, play, and live.
The City of Urbana reveres, celebrates and remembers the great contributions of our African American brothers and sisters, and we say, "Thank you."
There are many great events in and around Urbana celebrating BHM:
- 2/3: At the City of Urbana City Council meeting, Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin will acknowledge Urbana African American citizens with a proclamation at 7 p.m.
- 2/6 and 2/7: Step Afrika!: Drumfolk. This performance is part of the Krannert Center Youth Series, school-day performances for public, private, and home schools, grades PreK-12. On the heels of its critically acclaimed work, The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, Step Afrika! introduces Drumfolk, a high-energy exploration of the drum as an instrument of community, resilience, and determination. Drumfolk is the second work by Step Afrika! that chronicles and celebrates the African-American experience in America. Grounded in extensive research and over two decades of percussive practice and investigation, Drumfolk reveals hidden histories and events that transformed American life and experience. Connects to Illinois Learning Standards in Fine Arts, Social/Emotional Learning, and Science. School day performance starts at 10 a.m. on both days. There will be evening performances on both days starting at 7:30 p.m.
- 2/6: Revival Uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. A political discussion concerning the Middle East and North Africa at Levis Faculty Center, Urbana. Spoonsored in part by the UI Center for African Studies.
- 2/14: Recognized with the 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album, Somi and her vocal stylings have drawn comparisons to Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, and Sarah Vaughan, but her mesmerizing singing and songwriting have created an identity all her own. Born in Champaign-Urbana to East African parents, Somi has become “the quintessential artist citizen of the world,” observing, composing, and performing with insight, compassion, and deeply engaging musical skill (NPR). Starts at 7:30 p.m. at Krannert's Colwell Playhouse.
- 2/16: UFLive! presents Noah I. Brown. This month The Urbana Free Library celebrates Black History Month with pianist and singer Noah I. Brown who is known for his "soul-stirring" performances. This special UFLive! concert will draw on many musical traditions and will pay tribute to the rich cultural contributions of African Americans. Noah I. Brown is an Independent Gospel Recording Artist, prolific songwriter, producer, and author. He has produced four independent albums of his own and has written two best-selling books, produced stage play productions. He currently serves in his local church as pastor and music director. UFLive! concerts take place on the third Sunday of most months and are made possible by the generous support of The Urbana Free Library Foundation.
- 2/20: Bitter Kola Tastes Sweet-a celebration of Black writers around the world. A public celebration of Black voices across cultures, times, and literary genres. Come hear people from our community read favorite poems, orations, historical speeches, prose, and more from Black writers around the world. Cosponsored by the University of Illinois Center for African Studies and The Urbana Free Library.
A little area historical reading: The Under Ground Railroad in Champaign County: Central Illinois history is often intertwined with that of railroad history. The city of Champaign, along with several other Champaign County towns and villages, were formed when the Illinois Central Railroad line was constructed in the 1850s. But, what about the secret railroad network without trains or tracks that existed in the 19th century? Before the abolition of slavery in America, the Underground Railroad was a network of safe routes and houses in the United States and Canada used by African-American freedom seekers and allies to help enslaved individuals escape to free states, and sometimes to flee the country. Abolitionists and other individuals with anti-slavery sentiments provided Underground Railroad “passengers” with food, shelter, and guidance to other “stations.” Go here to read this entire article, provided by The Urbana Free Library Historical Archives.
Keep checking this page as new events are added.