The month of February marks Black History Month around the country, celebrating the rich history and contributions of the African American experience. Opportunities for learning about history, culture, and sparking some good conversation are all around, so don’t miss out. Bring in the whole family with these 6 ways to celebrate and learn around Portland. Read on for more!

photo: tom via flickr

PDX Jazz Festival

The 15th Annual PDX Jazz Festival comes roaring in this month, ready to celebrate past legends and showcase new talent! Over 100 events across 11 days, the amount of toe-tapping, soul-swinging beats will blow your mind. Local Portland star Esperanza Spalding joins in on February 22, or, for free events that won’t keep the kids up too late, check out the new talent at the PSU or Clackamas Student Duets for piano/voice.

Various locations and prices, some events free
Feb 18-25


photo: malvina via flickr

PDX Black Film Festival at Hollywood Theater

Celebrating the stories and filmmaking achievements of African Americans, Hollywood Theater is offering 14 films throughout the month at their annual PDX Black Film Festival. Films great for kids include A Ballerina’s Tale, telling Misty’s Copeland’s inspiring story of becoming principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, or the 1972 western Buck and the Preacher. Starring Sidney Poitier, it helped inspired Django Unchained (though this one is rated a young-audience-friendly PG). Or, get your toes tapping with the sounds of Soul Train Express or Prince in Sign O’ the Times.

Finally, for comic book fans, head to the free lecture Black Images Matter by comic-book writer and filmmaker David F. Walker of Marvel Comics.


$9/adults, $7/children 12 and under, some events free
Hollywood Theater
4122 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97212

Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years

The Oregon Black Pioneers have been working to tell the forgotten stories of the region’s diverse past for years. Their latest exhibit in the Oregon Historical Society focuses on the Civil Rights Movement in Oregon in the 1960s and 1970s. Using photos from the City of Portland the Oregonian’s archives, the exhibit presents a hard look at the obstacles the Black community of Portland faced, like racist attitudes and policies of exclusion. The exhibit is family friendly and welcomes all ages and backgrounds.

Free for residents of Multnomah County
$11/adults, $5/children 6-18, free for children under 6
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave.
Portland, OR


photo: klamath via flickr

Ghanian Song and Dance

Join Habiba for a whirling performance of authentic Western African culture! With beautiful costumes, singing and dance moves ,the whole audience can participate in  this fun event. Kids grades K-5 will love the call and response and rhythm drumming.

Sat. Feb 17, 1 p.m.
St John’s Library
7510 N Charleston Avenue
Portland, OR

Tue., Feb. 20, 6:30 p.m.
Troutdale Library
2451 SW Cherry Park Road
Troutdale, OR


photo: rod library via flickr

African American Read In at the Library

Celebrate black literature with readings by our community! Teachers, students, leaders, and local celebrities will offer readings from their favorite works by African American writers. Aimed at all ages, the whole family is welcome to attend this event–and bring your own favorite piece to read, too!

Sun, Feb. 18, 2- 3:30 p.m.
North Portland Library
512 N Killingsworth Street
Portland, OR

Black Storytime

And finally, not just for Black History Month, but every Saturday, kids from birth to preschool can enjoy a special storytime about the African and African American experience. With songs, fun movements, activities, and great stories, it’s a lot of fun for little folks. Offered every Saturday at two different locations, it’s always free.

10:30 a.m.
North Portland Library
512 N Killingsworth Street
Portland, OR

12 p.m.
Midland Library
805 SE 122nd Avenue
Portland, OR


What’s your favorite way to celebrate Black History Month? Tell us in the comments below!

—Katrina Emery