This month, we celebrate many great things: Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day, President’s Day, and even Flag Day. Whether you actively celebrate these holidays or simply accept them as part of the American framework, they exist on calendars. What about the unwritten holidays, though? Black History Month shares February with these above holidays. Annapolis may not be able to give it calendar space, but the city certainly comes alive with Black History Month celebrations, as we detail below.
Your destination for all things historical, Annapolis Historic Foundation tells of an exhibit that celebrates runaway slaves and remembers life for the enslaved from the 1720s to 1860s. The exhibit, Freedom Bound: Runaways of the Chesapeake Exhibit, spans from the colonial period to the Civil War via photographs, video, artifacts, mannequins, clothing, activities, and genuine runaway ads. Historic Annapolis Museum hosts this eye-opening exhibit from February 23 to March 2. This exhibit is free to view.
In conjunction with the runaways exhibit, historian Anthony Cohen tells the story of the Underground Railroad on Thursday, February 6 at 5 p.m. Cohen physically retraced the steps slaves took while using the Underground Railroad and shares his experiences. This historic lecture carries a $10 admission fee. Historic Annapolis Museum hosts this event as well. For more information on these two events, visit Annapolis Historic Foundation.
You don’t have to travel farther than City Dock to learn the heritage of African Americans. Watermark’s award-winning African American Heritage Tour provides attendees with a glimpse into 18th and 19th century life for blacks in Maryland. This tour is scheduled for Saturday, February 15 from 1 to 3 p.m. Meet at City Dock. Tickets for adults are $16; tickets for kids are $10. Go to Watermark Tours to read more.
Kids can especially enjoy the Sharing African American History tour at Historic London Town. The tour covers the life and duties of enslaved and free blacks who worked in the area of London Town and in the county’s Almshouse. Tours must be booked in advance. For additional information, head to Historic London Town.
The USNA Gospel Choir joins the Black History Month calendar of events with a Black History Month Concert at the Main Chapel on February 23. Enjoy this musical tribute to African American heritage at 4 p.m. and then attend the banquet at 6 p.m. in Alumni Hall. Tickets for the concert cost $18; tickets for the banquet cost $35. Learn more at Navy Performs.
The USNA Band pays their own musical tribute with a Crabtowne Stompers performance at St. Anne’s Church on Thursday, February 27. The performance is filled to the brim with New Orleans jazz and contemporary funk sounds that speak to the jazz movement in America. The show begins at 6 p.m. and is free. To learn more, visit USNA Band online.
The Banneker-Douglass Museum downtown keeps Deep Roots, Rising Waters on exhibit permanently. This exhibit teaches about African American life from the early 1600s to present day. Specifically, the exhibit focuses on Maryland’s first African American settler, Benjamin Banneker’s anti-slavery protest, Kunta Kinte’s slavery ad, Douglass’s speeches, Harriet Tubman’s explorations, and education for blacks years ago. The museum sits at 84 Franklin Street and is open Tuesday through Saturday. Viewing this exhibit is free. Find out more info at Banneker-Douglass Museum.
While the above tours and organized events are an effortless way to explore African American heritage, it’s just as easy to go on your own tour. Downtown Annapolis proudly displays several monuments and sites that celebrate black history. A tribute to Kunta Kinte, a slave brought to Annapolis in the mid 1700s, sits right outside Market Space. Across the street at the Harbor, a statue of Alex Haley, descendent of Kunta Kinte, rests on a bench with seated children below. The poses represent Haley’s sharing of the slave trade and Kinte in his Pulitzer Prize book Roots. Virtually wherever you go in Annapolis, you can learn the story of the past–the African American past included.
Visit Maryland describes several additional Black History Month happenings throughout the state that are worthy of your consideration as well, like Zawadi: The 5th Annual High School Step Show Challenge on Saturday, February 1 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Bowie Center for the Performing Arts.