Grand Rapids Public Library to host events for Black History Month

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Black History Month Storytimes will feature books with Black characters or books by Black authors. Courtesy Grand Rapids Public Library

The Grand Rapids Public Library is celebrating Black History Month by collaborating with local organizations, community members and businesses to present free online programs for kids and adults on its official Facebook page and YouTube channel from Feb. 2-28.

The educational and entertaining programs include:

African American Architects Part 1 with Grand Rapids’ Isaac V. Norris, AIA, NOMA, LEED-AP

The virtual event, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, is a two-part lecture on the history of African American architects in the United States. African Americans have contributed to the American landscape of architecture despite many educational and inclusion disparities.

Community Spotlight: Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB)

At 12 p.m. Wednesday, patrons will learn more about GRABB, which was founded in 2012 to create awareness and bring visibility to the Black business community.

Music (NOT) in the Stacks: Edye Evans Hyde

Edye Evans Hyde, the 2011 West Michigan Jazz Society Musician of the Year will perform at 7 p.m. Hyde has been singing jazz, blues and pop music for over 30 years. He has shared the stage with blues singer Linda Hopkins, pop singer Michael Bolton, vocalist Maria Muldaur, actress Connie Stevens, the late Ray Charles and Cuban trumpet player Arturo Sandoval.

Black History Month Storytimes

At 10 a.m. on Feb. 6, 13, 20 and 27, Storytimes will feature books with Black characters or books by Black authors. There also will be singalongs and early literacy tips from a GRPL librarian.

African American Architects Part 2 with Isaac V. Norris, AIA, NOMA, LEED-AP

This virtual lecture, at 6 p.m. Feb. 9, will be led by Norris, who will talk about what African Americans have contributed to the American landscape of architecture despite many educational and inclusion disparities.

Community Spotlight: “A City Within A City” Film with Victor Williams

This virtual event, at 12 p.m. Feb. 10, will be about how Grand Rapids Media Initiative & Film Incubator with Grand Stand Pictures and affiliated community partners soon will begin production of a full-length documentary film. The film will reveal how the dignity and humanity of the Black community in Grand Rapids persist in overcoming the insidiousness of #ManagerialRacism as defined by author Todd Robinson, in his book “A City Within A City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids.

Music (NOT) in the Stacks: Tom Cutts

This music event, scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 11, will feature Tom Cutts, a guitarist, songwriter and singer. His musical styling blends gospel, jazz, blues, R&B and rock. He has shared the stage with Jessica Reedy, Tasha Page Lockhart, Marvin Sapp, Al Green, Angela Christie, Shirley Caesar, Andre Crouch, James Cleveland and others.

Ebony Road Players Present “Anne and Emmett”

In this imaginative stage play, at 6 p.m. Feb. 16, Anne Frank and Emmett Till meet in a place called Memory to share accounts of their lives and deaths. The story, about Till, an African American boy, and Anne Frank, a German-Dutch Jewish girl, compares and contrasts how the racial injustices experienced on both ends were more similar than many people want to accept.

Community Spotlight: We Are LIT GR with Kendra McNeil

The spotlight, noon Feb. 17, will be on We Are LIT, an independent, multicultural bookshop based in Grand Rapids. Kendra McNeil is founder, curator and owner of We Are LIT. Her work focuses on creating a culture around books and developing programs around long-term, community-based literacy initiatives. McNeil is chief operating officer of The Black Book Exchange Box, a nonprofit organization and book exchange system dedicated to the representation of Black people and culture.

Music (NOT) in the Stacks: Karisa Wilson

Karisa Wilson, an award-winning singer/songwriter from Michigan, will perform at 7 p.m. Feb. 18. Her debut album “Little Girl” won the WYCE’s Album of the Year Jammie, one of Michigan’s most prestigious indie music awards. Wilson writes and performs a blend of indie-folk, jazz and blues. She also is a classically trained violinist.

Taste of Soul Sunday: A Moment with Shannon Cohen & Family

Join GRPL at 1 p.m. Feb. 21 for an intimate talk with Shannon Cohen on life, resilience and surviving a pandemic.

Taste of Soul Sunday: Serita’s Black Rose

The event, at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 21, will be an online performance by Serita’s Black Rose. A self-professed “funkateer,” Serita Crowley of Serita’s Black Rose is from Grand Rapids. She performs a mix of funk, rock, blues, neo-soul and Americana.

Community Spotlight: Luxe Artisan Preserves with Kimberly Marie

At noon Feb. 24, learn about Luxe Artisan Preservers, which offers a collection of small-batch, hand-crafted preserves infused with herbs and alcohol. Kimberly Marie is the owner/founder of Luxe Artisan Preserves, and she also is a published author, certified life coach, former professor and award-winning nurse executive and clinician.

Music (NOT) in the Stacks: Jordan Hamilton

At 7 p.m. Feb. 25, Jordan Hamilton, cellist of Last Gasp Collective and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, merges songwriting, loop pedals, sample machines, and vocals to create a sonic landscape of experimental hip-hop, folk, soul and classical music.

GRPL also is offering Black History Month craft kits, which includes age-appropriate crafts for toddlers and kids, and includes information to help parents explain great moments in Black history in the United States.

Additionally, GRPL will partner with local Black-owned and -operated restaurants for a Taste of Soul Restaurant Showcase. From Feb. 21-28, drop by a participating restaurant and present your GRPL library card to receive $5 off your bill. One discount per restaurant per household, limited to the first 160 households while supplies last.

Participating restaurants include 40 Acres Soul Kitchen, Boston Soul Cafe, Daddy Pete’s BBQ and Taste of Africa.

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