Celebrating Black History Month in Colorado and beyond

Feb. 4, 2021

February marks Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black people.

In the last year, two major historical events affecting Black Americans unfolded – the Black Lives Matter movement and the global pandemic, which has disproportionately affected Black people and other communities of color.

A photo of President John F. Kennedy with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., meet with President John F. Kennedy in the oval office of the White House after the March on Washington in August, 1963. Photo courtesy: The Smithsonian Institute.

The Black Lives Matter movement, now nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, called for change in the struggle in the United States against racism after the death of George Floyd in police custody. The movement, which began in July 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in connection with the shooting death of Treyvon Martin, has chapters all over the world, including Colorado.

The global pandemic has left more than 460,000 Americans dead from COVID-19. Blacks are 2.8 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than White people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s why it’s extremely important for communities of color to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

While Coloradans continue to hunker down and practice precautionary measures such as social distancing, avoiding large groups, washing your hands frequently and wearing a mask, there are wonderful ways to virtually celebrate Black History Month this year.

Here are some ideas:

Colorado

The achievements and contributions of Black Coloradans are celebrated across Colorado. AAA Colorado recommends visiting these places, from El Pueblo Museum in Pueblo to Dearfield, an African-American farming community and the only remaining town in Colorado that exemplifies the national black colonization movement inspired by Booker T. Washington. It was one of 14 rural towns established in the West to provide Americans of African descent with the opportunity to own and work their own land.

Given visitor restrictions in many Colorado venues, be sure to check first before going. Here are 8 great places.

Denver

  • From a webinar about the year 1963, a pivotal time in the civil rights movement, to a discussion of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings’ memoir We’re Better than This, numerous online events are planned in the Denver area. Please click here to see a list of activities compiled by Visit Denver, the city’s Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • The Denver Public Library is devoted to African American research, offering a multitude of ways to explore Black history:   https://history.denverlibrary.org/blair

Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs’ Pioneers Museum, which is open and free to the public, has a new exhibit celebrating 150 years of history in Colorado Springs. The exhibit is rich with the history of contributions of Blacks in the development of the city. A virtual lecture: Scholar Series: COS@150 Through the Lens of Black History, is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. Click here for more information.

The Colorado Springs Fine Art Center at Colorado College celebrates Black History Month with discussions about the art of Floyd Tunson; 50 years of Denver-based choreographer Cleo Parker Robinson; and A Night of Poetry and Performance.

Click here for more information.

Fort Collins

Each February, Colorado State University’s Black/African American Cultural Center highlights the contributions of Black Americans. A keynote speaker for this year’s celebration is Wes Hamilton, who shares his story of how he’s living his best life after becoming paralyzed.

Click here to see what’s on tap this year.

Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is offering a wide range of digital programs for all ages this February. The museum’s Black History Month celebration also features the digital return of one of its signature programs, A Seat at the Table, an interactive program for participants to consider challenging questions about race, identity and economic justice over a meal. Click here for more information.

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society. Click here for more information.

About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.

ADVERTISEMENT