Negro History Week was first celebrated in February 1926 during a week which encompassed Frederick Douglas’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. The week was the result of the work of Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, who believed “that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over justice”. 

The celebration and study of the contributions of African Americans to our country and the world continued and grew. Fifty years after the first celebration in 1976, the first African American History Month was held. Since then, each American president has issued African American History Month Proclamations. For more information about the history of the celebration, click here to visit the African American History Month site.

The READ Center is celebrating the Black History Month by reading about professional tennis player Arthur Ashe a native of Richmond, VA. Arthur Ashe was the first black tennis player selected to the United States Davis Cup team and the only black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. Mr. Ashe passed away on February 6, 1993. He remains an inspiration and role model to African American and all young athletes who want to be the best they can be.

Events and Activities in the Community

Feb. 9 6:30 p.m., Black History Museum, 122 W. Leigh St.
“From These Roots: A Musical Tribute to African-American Heritage”: Binford Middle School Orchestra and Chorus perform with Soul of Dance performing arts dance troupe.

Feb. 17 4 p.m., VUU’s Belgian Theatre, 1500 N. Lombardy St.
The Belgian Theatre is performing “Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown”:  the story of an enslaved Richmond man who, in 1849, escaped to Philadelphia and freedom by arranging to have himself mailed in a wooden crate.  Sponsored by the VUU Theatre Program. Info: (804) 257-5600.

Feb. 20  7-9 p.m.,  VCU, 901 Park Ave.
Join VCU for their 17th Annual Black History Month Lecture and thought-provoking discussion about how our society treated African-American veterans and the effects on their communities after their service. The event is free and open to all, registration suggested.

Feb. 22 4-7 p.m., Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts, 200 N. Boulevard.
The VMFA will be open on this evening for extended hours. Leaders from the community will share African and African-American literature related to works in the VMFA permanent collection. Currently on view in the exhibition, Like a Study in Black History: P. H. Polk, Chester Higgins and The Black Photographers Annual, Volume 2

Feb. 24  1:30-2:15 p.m., Enon Library, 1801 Enon Church Rd.
Storyteller Charmaine Crowell White tells traditional African and African-American folktales. Registration required.


Know another great program or event that’s happening? Let us know so we can add it to our list! Also, make sure you check out our Facebook page to see how The READ Center commemorates Black History Month.