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How to celebrate Black History Month 2024 across the Tampa Bay area

February is Black History Month, and several events are planned across the greater Tampa Bay region.

Established in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month originally encompassed a single week in February. 50 years later, it was expanded by President Gerald R. Ford to honor the "too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."

Take a look at a few upcoming events across the greater Tampa Bay region that will commemorate the perseverance of Black history, culture, and heritage during Black History Month 2024.

Hillsborough

An Evening in Celebration of Frederick Douglass
When: Feb. 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Where: Tampa Theatre, 711 N Franklin Street, Tampa, 33602

The Tampa Bay History Center is inviting folks of all ages to a free event at Tampa Theatre honoring Frederick Douglass.

Fred Hearns, curator of Black History at the Tampa Bay History Center, will contextualize Douglass’ historical contributions, followed by an immersive performance by Nathan Richardson titled “Frederick Douglass speaks on Democracy.”

Admission is free.

2024 UNCF Black History Month Walk for Education and HBCU Homecoming Festival 
When: Feb. 10, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: Perry Harvey Sr. Park, 1000 E Harrison St, Tampa, FL 33602

The UNCF Black History Month Walk for Education is a tribute walk raising scholarship funds for disadvantaged students in Tampa Bay. After the walk, there will be guided tours centered around Black history. Also part of the event is the HBCU Homecoming Festival, open to the public for a selection of Bay area food vendors, live music, and activities for younger children.

Registration for the walk is $35 for adults and $15 for children. You can register here.

USF - Centre Gallery Exhibition: Black Heritage Month 
When: Feb. 12 through Feb. 22, open Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Marshall Student Center, 4103 USF Cedar Cir, Tampa, 33620

The USF Centre Gallery, one of the only student-run, non-profit galleries in the state, is hosting a two-week exhibition in celebration of Black heritage showcasing a series of paintings by Tampa Bay area artist Marlon Tobias. His exhibition honors the underrepresented lives and contributions of 28 African Americans.

Admission to the gallery is free. You can also read more about Tobias’s Centre Gallery exhibition and his other works here.

Black History Month Reception  
When: Feb. 23, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Water Street, Tampa, 33602

Later in the month, the Tampa Bay History Center is also hosting a reception to recognize the achievements of leaders who have actively preserved Black history. Former Florida Sen. Arthenia Joyner is expected to speak about her experiences as Florida minority leader, and civil rights figure and Tampa native Rev. Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr. will award an honor in his namesake to an individual who has contributed significantly to the preservation of Black history.

Register for the reception here.

The Stories We Tell: Sharing Our Black History through Creative Expression 
When: Feb. 17, 10 a.m.-noon
Where: Perry Harvey Sr. Park, 1000 East Harrison Street Tampa, 33602

Hosted by the City of Tampa Black History Committee, enjoy performances and presentations from Greater Tampa Chapter Grade Groups, the Walton Academy for the Performing Arts Voices of Inspiration Children's Choir, and local historians. Families are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs, and food trucks will be on hand.

This celebration of Black heritage through art and storytelling is free, but those interested in attending are encouraged to RVSP here.

Pinellas County

Salvador Dalí Museum - Coffee With a Curator: Impressionism and Black History

When: Feb. 7, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Where: Will Raymund Theater at The Dalí Museum, One Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg, 33701

Ahead of an upcoming exhibition on impressionism, The Salvador Dalí Museum will host a conversation with artist, educator, and researcher Dr. Dallas Jackson about the influences of the impressionist movement within contemporary art by the Florida Highwaymen, a group of African American landscape artists based in Florida who created an estimated 200,000 works.

The event itself is free, but does not include gallery access and requires an RVSP to attend.

The event will also be streamed on YouTube.

February ArtWalk: African Americans and the Arts Celebrating Black History Month 
When: Feb. 10, 5-9 p.m.
Where: Creative Clay, 1846 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg, 33712

Creative Clay offers resources and programming in the visual and performing arts for individuals with disabilities, and their mission for the February 2024 ArtWalk is to honor Black heritage and the arts for an exhibit titled “African Americans and the Arts: Celebrating Black History Month.”

The event will showcase live music performance by local St. Pete musician Emily Turnage, and artistic works for purchase by Creative Clay Member Artists. Visitors will also have the chance to tour both the resident artist studios and the Creative Thrift store for artists’ supplies and ephemera. Creative Clay artists are offering on-the-spot portrait drawings for ArtWalk attendees.

Tampa Bay Publix Collard Green Festival 
When: Feb 17, 9  a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Woodson African American Museum of Florida, 2240 9th Ave S, St. Petersburg, 33712

Visit an educative celebration of Black heritage at the 2024 Publix Collard Green Festival. The event’s mission is to spread awareness about agricultural science and healthy lifestyle choices through interactive food tasting booths and fitness demonstrations at the festival. The Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival’s advocates for a “health is wealth” initiative, with a specific goal of addressing the financial and health disparities in African American, Black, and Brown populations.

Pinellas African American Heritage Celebration 
When: Feb. 24, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: Florida Botanical Gardens and Heritage Village, 12520 Ulmerton Rd., Largo, 33774

After a nearly 10-year hiatus, the Pinellas African American Heritage Celebration is back to celebrate Black History Month with a variety of activities for individuals of all ages. The event will host a Black-owned vendor market, musical performances at three different stages, a designated children’s zone, and a gallery featuring art by Pinellas County Schools students. A tasty selection of barbeque, soul food, and seafood will be available for purchase at the event.

St. Petersburg Black History Bike Tour 
When: Feb. 3, 11 and 24
Where: Wellness Center, 2198 15th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, 33712

The tour combines physical activity and immersive learning. Three tours led by historian Josette Green will take participants through historic Black heritage sites in St. Petersburg.

Visit the Black History Bike Tour’s page to register for an upcoming guided bike tour.

Polk County

Jackson Park Black History Festival 
When: Feb. 17, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Jackson Park, 1104 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Lakeland, 33805

The city of Lakeland’s annual Black History Festival will honor Black heritage with a local vendor market and live entertainment varying from dance to spoken word at Jackson Park. The festival will also highlight the history of Jackson Park’s Coleman-Bush building and the surrounding neighborhood with the exciting unveiling of a touchscreen, digital display experience aiming to immerse attendees in the history of Lakeland's Black community.

This event is free, and the city's Parks and Recreations Department will provide free plants.

Pasco County

African American Club Black History Month Festival
When: Feb. 24, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Historic Booker T. Washington School, 6105 Pine Hill Road, Port Richey, 34668

The AAC of Pasco’s Black History Month Festival is a free family event.

The annual Black History Month Festival will unite multiple Pasco County organizations for a celebration of Black heritage and culture. It includes a designated children’s area, games, food, and live performances by local youth groups, including the "This is How We Do It" dance troupe. The Buffalo Soldiers of Tampa Bay will also ride through the event to talk about their community initiatives and mission.

Virtual Events

And in case the above dates and times don’t seem to work out for you, there are a few organizations offering virtual programming to celebrate this year’s Black History Month. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) will host a variety of online panels in recognition of African American history with an emphasis in the arts.

Visit ASALH’s Virtual Festival webpage to find a calendar of their virtual Black History Month events that you can tune into all month long.

Ari Herrera is the WUSF Stephen Noble Digital News intern for spring of 2024.