Tulsa was a focal point for rediscovering Black history in 2021 because of events and remembrances related to the Tulsa Race Massacre centennial.
Black History Month has been celebrated every February since 1976. Black History Month shines a spotlight on struggles and triumphs of Black people in America.
There are many upcoming events related to Black History Month. Among them:
Circle Cinema Films
Circle Cinema is celebrating Black History Month with multiple films. For tickets, go to circlecinema.org.
“Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché” (7 p.m. Feb. 2). Poly Styrene was the first woman of color in the UK to front a successful rock band with X-Ray Spex in the ‘70s. Narrated by Oscar-nominee Ruth Negga, the documentary follows Poly’s daughter Celeste as she examines her mother’s unopened artistic archive to better understand Poly. Cliffdiver vocalist Briana Wright will introduce the screening. Tickets are $11 for Circle members and $13 otherwise.
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Sidney Poitier Tribute Series: Join Circle Cinema in remembrance of the legendary actor. Circle Cinema is bringing back 1967’s “In the Heat of the Night” (Feb. 7), 1967’s “To Sir With Love” (Feb. 14) and 1963’s “Lilies in the Field” (Feb. 21). Poitier won an Academy Award for his work in “Lilies in the Field.” Tickets are $8.
“Music, Money, Madness. Jimi Hendrix in Maui” (7 p.m. Feb. 10). The new documentary takes an LSD-infused flashback to 1970s Maui as Hendrix and his band film the movie “Rainbow Bridge.” It incorporates never-before-released original footage and breathtaking renditions of crowd favorites like “Foxey Lady,” “Purple Haze” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” Tickets are $11 for Circle members and $13 otherwise.
“Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America” (opens Feb. 25). All screenings will include a video introduction from the film’s writer, Jeffery Robinson. Interweaving lecture, personal anecdotes, interviews and shocking revelations, Robinson — a criminal defense/civil rights lawyer — draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America. Tickets are $5.
“Citizen Ashe” (7 p.m. Feb. 28). Tennis legend Arthur Ashe’s work as a humanitarian and athlete is explored in a film as elegant, meaningful and poignant as the life he lived. Ashe’s family, friends and contemporaries describe the key events that shaped his quiet determination to “use what he had to do what he could.” Admission is free.
9th Annual Black Wall Street Heritage and History Festival
The Greenwood Cultural Center will host the 9th Annual Black Wall Street Heritage and History Festival on Feb. 5 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. This event, hosted by MC Righteous and Lakita Parker, will honor and celebrate 15 churches around Black Wall Street that have been established for over 100 years.
Attendees can shop from several Black vendors, sample several varieties of soul food, enjoy live music and even attend a fashion show put on by Sugar Chic Glam Couture, a Black-owned business specializing in handmade crochet designs. The event will also feature a speech from Pastor Scott Gordon from Calvary Baptist Church as well as an appearance by actress, singer and activist Majeste Pearson.
The cost of the event is a $10 donation benefiting the Community Pride Farmers Market.
Black Excellence Event at Greenwood Cultural Center
Join artist and filmmaker Derio Long and a host of Black entertainers, poets, musicians and entrepreneurs on Feb. 11 at the Greenwood Cultural Center for a night centered on the celebration and promotion of Black excellence. The event will begin at 6 p.m.
The event will include spaces for Black vendors to promote and sell their products as well as live musical performances and poetry readings by performers such as Jerica and Kode Ransom. Attendees are asked to wear all black and are encouraged to bring business cards, product samples as well as their own poetry to read.
The night will also include a special presentation of “O: The Series,” a film project by Long in collaboration with Osix Films. There will also be appetizers and drinks available for purchase.
General admission tickets are on sale for $35 and are available for purchase at eventbrite.com/black-excellence-event-tickets-227864608177.
Theatre North’s ‘Jitney’
Theatre North, the award-winning company that has been presenting dramas and comedies about the Black experience for more than 40 years, will debut its newest production, “Jitney” by August Wilson, with performances Feb. 12-13 and 19-20, at the Tulsa PAC, 110 E. Second St.
“Jitney” is the eighth play in what is known as playwright Wilson’s “Pittsburgh Cycle,” a series of 10 plays that chronicle the 20th century through the experiences of the citizens of Wilson’s home town of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was the first of the series to be produced, in 1982, and the 2017 Broadway production earned the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.
Set in the 1970s, the play revolves around the group of men who work as gypsy cab drivers, as the established cab lines won’t patronize those living in the city’s Hill District. The building where the men gather is to be demolished, and the manager urges his cohorts to fight eviction, while dealing with his own issues involving his son, who has recently been released from prison.
For tickets and more information: 918-596-7111, tulsapac.com.
19&21 at Mother Road Market
The 19&21 shop within Mother Road Market, 1124 S. Lewis Ave., will host an array of products from local Black-owned businesses this month. The merchandise reflects the creative and entrepreneurial impact of Tulsa’s black artists and makers.
“Beyond sharing an important moment in our city’s history, I have seen this brand serve as an inspiration for others to follow and pursue their purpose,” said Trey Thaxton, owner of 19&21. “I’m a firm believer that the richest place in the world is the graveyard, and if I can inspire someone to pursue their own passion and purpose, I will be fulfilling mine.”
Featured products include clothing from Greenwood Ave.; aromatherapy products from SubtleHome & Co.; books and other items from Fulton Street Books & Coffee; handcrafted home accessories from JanaeJavan; Albert’s Barbecue Sauce; and natural fruit spreads by Toasted Wine & Fruit Spreads.
19&21, created by Thaxton to celebrate black excellence, will donate 10 percent of its proceeds to Justice for Greenwood.
Tour Black Wall Street
The block of brick buildings at the corner of Archer Street and Greenwood Avenue may represent a tiny fraction of the once-thriving neighborhood that was known as “Black Wall Street,” but within this short stretch road is a wealth of history about the community that called Greenwood home.
Visit Greenwood Rising, 23 N. Greenwood Ave., recently named by USA Today as one of the Top 10 New Attractions in the country. This immersive, interactive museum is a testament to the resilience of Tulsa’s Black community, and how it has repeatedly worked to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to claim their American rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. greenwoodrising.org.
The Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N. Greenwood Ave., has extensive displays about the history of Tulsa’s Black community. One of the more sobering exhibits is outside the facility — the Black Wall Street Memorial, which lists the people who died, and the businesses that were destroyed, during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. greenwoodculturalcenter.org.
The John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, 302 N. Elgin Ave., offers visitors the chance to contemplate the past, present and future in a peaceful, artfully designed place, highlighted by original sculptures that include the “Reconciliation Tower,” a 26-foot-tall bronze that incorporates the history of the African-American experience. jhfcenter.org.
Polo Grill Wine Dinners
The Polo Grill, 2038 Utica Square, will host a series of special dinners each Sunday in February that will benefit Oasis Fresh Market, the north Tulsa grocery store that is working to address food insecurity in that region.
The evenings will pair wines and whiskeys from Black-owned wineries and distillers, with recipes taken from “Cleora’s Kitchen: The Memoir of a Cook and Eight Decades of Great American Food,” a collection of recipes and stories by Cleora Butler, a private chef and caterer in Tulsa for more than 60 years; from Cobbler Mom, a new restaurant in the Greenwood District, and the Polo Grill’s own menu.
The featured wineries and distilleries include Greenwood Rye Whiskey, Brown Estate, Maison Noir, Wade Cellars, Bodkin Wines, McBride Sisters and Sun Goddess. The featured wines will also be available by the glass and by the bottle throughout February at the Polo Grill. Reservations are recommended. 918-744-4280, pologrill.com.
‘Greenwood Ave. Project’
The Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N. Greenwood Ave., will host the premiere of a new documentary, “Greenwood Ave Project,” on Feb. 27. The evening will begin with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., with the film shown at 7:30 p.m.
Produced by Karen Reese and directed by Terry Baccus, “Greenwood Ave. Project” focuses on how this north Tulsa neighborhood resurrected from the destruction of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, through the efforts of everyday people wanting to reclaim the place they knew as home.
Tickets for the premiere are $20 each. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
African-American Heritage Bowl
Competitors can learn more about the national African-American community and work with peers to win prizes at Tulsa City-County Library’s 2022 African-American Heritage Bowl.
The 6 p.m. Feb. 24 event is hosted by the African-American Resource Center at Rudisill Regional Library, 1520 N. Hartford. It is free and open to the public, but participants must register teams by Feb. 17. For the safety of attendees, this program may be moved to a virtual platform. Contact AskUs at 918-549-7323 for the most up-to-date information.
A news release said the bowl is open to all middle and high school students as well as business organizations, churches, book clubs, families and other community groups. The purpose of this year’s theme (health and wellness) is to increase overall knowledge and understanding of the health and wellness among the national African-American community.
The trivia competition will feature a Middle School Bowl, High School Bowl and a Community Bowl. Trophies will be awarded to the top three placers. Each member of winning teams in school categories will receive an Amazon Fire tablet. Teams can have up to four members. Each middle school and high school may register only one team per school. Email Adrienne.Teague@tulsalibrary.org for team packets with study guides and school entry forms with rules and regulations.
The African-American Heritage Bowl is sponsored by the African-American Resource Center, Tulsa Library Trust and Jim and Sally Frasier. For more information, call 918-549-7323 or visit tulsalibrary.org.
The Fight For Fairness with Laura Coates
Magic City Books will welcome CNN senior legal analyst, SiriusXM host and adjunct professor at George Washington University School of Law Laura Coates for a discussion of her new book, “Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor’s Fight For Fairness.” The event will be hosted at Greenwood Rising on Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. Tickets include one copy of “Just Pursuit” and one seat at the event.
“Just Pursuit” details Coates’ experience working for the Department of Justice as a prosecutor and expounds on the vast inequalities within the criminal justice system that harm people of color in particular. Coates tells firsthand accounts of her time in the courtroom fighting for the rights of minority citizens in a legal system that is rigged against them, and how her identity as a Black woman and mother informed her time as a prosecutor.
For more information: magiccitybooks.com
Black History Month on PBS
Black History Month offerings are available on PBS throughout February.
At 8 p.m. Feb. 8, “American Masters” will premiere “Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands,” a new documentary that provides an intimate look at the life, career and legacy of the African-American contralto and civil rights pioneer in her own words (thanks to rare archival interview recordings). The film shows how her quiet genius and breathtaking voice set the stage for Black performers in classical music in America and around the world.
At 8 p.m. Feb. 15, “American Experience” premieres “The American Diplomat,” a story of three Black diplomats (Edward R. Dudley, Terence Todman and Carl Rowan) who broke racial barriers at the U.S. State Department during the Cold War. The new documentary tells about their lasting impact on the Foreign Service.
At 9 p.m. Feb. 15, “Frontline” will premiere “American Reckoning.” A news release described it as an extraordinary look at the civil rights era — the violence and resistance — through rare footage filmed more than 50-years ago in Natchez, Mississippi, and the still-unresolved killing of local NAACP leader Wharlest Jackson.
At 8 p.m. Feb. 22, “Fannie Lou Hamer’s America: An America Reframed Special” is scheduled to premiere. Told through Hamer’s public speeches, interviews, powerful songs and never-before-seen family photos and archival footage, the program is a portrait of the life and legacy of the Mississippi-born sharecropper whose harrowing encounters with injustice propelled her into leadership in the fight for voting rights. It was produced in part by Hamer’s great-niece, Monica Land.
In addition to the new broadcast programs, viewers can stream a collection of Black History Month programs on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app. PBS station members can also view the majority of programs via Passport (contact a local PBS station for details).