History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro
Bainbridge Island is continuing the national tradition of celebrating Black History Month. During February, the city highlights and celebrates African American leaders and their accomplishments.
The U.S. isn’t the only country that celebrates Black History Month. It’s also celebrated in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Netherlands. In 1926, the month first started off as Negro History Week. It was established by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, that focuses on researching and promoting achievements by African Americans.
During the Civil Rights Movement, Negro History Week became a month long event on many college campuses. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month.
Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) is leading the charge in celebrating Black History Month on the island. On Tuesday Feb. 11th, Currents Online attended the first of the five-week series of SmARTFilms: Black Excellence showcasing I Am Not Your Negro. This film is based on James Baldwin’s last literary work, Remember This House. The film took viewers on a black history journey that was deeply moving, unvarnished, and honest. Baldwin articulated:
The story of the Negro in America is the story of America. It is not a pretty story. What can we do? …I still believe we can do something with this country that has not been done before. We are misled here because we think we need numbers. You don’t need numbers. You need passion – and this is proven by the history of the world.James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro
Upcoming films in this series include Fences, Precious, Do the Right Thing, If Beale Street Could Talk. BIMA has a Black History Month Community Celebration and many other events. View their Black History Month events calendar here.
Along with BIMA, the Bainbridge Island Public Library has a space dedicated to books in this genre.
The Bainbridge Historical Museum is hosting a talk by Karen Vargas entitled, In Search of Identity: Black History on Bainbridge on February 26, at 7-8pm at Bainbridge Public Library.
Weave Presents is hosting the sold-out jazz event, D’Vonne Lewis & Friends on Feb. 15th. D’Vonne Lewis, 32, is a self-taught musician/drummer/poet with a background in gospel, funk, and rhythm and blues. Lewis is the grandson of the late-great ‘Godfather of rock and roll/soul’, the Pacific Northwest’s Hall of Famer, Hammond B-3 organ legend, Dave Lewis.
Join the BISD Multicultural Advisory Council on February 28th at 7:30 p.m. for a special screening of the documentary More Than a Month. This will be followed by a facilitated discussion as part of BIMA’s Black History Month Celebration. Purchase tickets here.
In celebrating Black History Month, Bainbridge Island would agree with the sentiment expressed by Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court member:
In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.