Austin celebrates Black History Month with everything from academic lectures to community festivals.
By Leo B. Carter and Molly McManus
The film 12 Years a Slave, in addition to receiving nine Academy Award nominations, has re-ignited international discussions about the depictions of slavery in American literature and film. Directed by Steven McQueen and adapted from the original memoir of Solomon Northup, a free black man who is kidnapped from his home and family in upstate New York and sold in to slavery in Georgia. The Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies (TILTS) and the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies will hold a roundtable discussion on the film, moderated by Helena Woodard of the Department of English and including distinguished panelists and faculty members from many different departments. It will be held at the Santa Rita Suite (3.502) in the Texas Union at 5 p.m. utexas.edu/cola/insts/tilts-2014/events/12-years-a-slave.php
From 6 to 8:30 p.m., the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center will screen Eyes on the Prize: The Promised Land, followed by discussion facilitated by the film’s director and writer, Dr. Paul Stekler. This episode focuses on the final year of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and the movement, turning its attention to the economic issues confronting the nation and the rumblings of a war in Vietnam.
Friday, Feb. 7
Hoodwinked (Dispelling Myths about Blacks in America) is a searing documentary examining the role that myths, stereotypes and misrepresentations have played in the lives of the modern era African-American. Join Dr. Steve Perry, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Dr. Boyce Watkins, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu and Dr. Ivory Toldson for a screening and discussion at the Carver Museum and Cultural Center.
The Carver Museum and Cultural Center presents Black Banner Day from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The community is invited to participate in the ceremony at the center to herald in 2014 Black History Month. The keynote speaker will be Jim Harrington, Texas Civil Rights Project director and attorney.
Saturday, Feb. 8
The University of Texas Jazz Orchestra will perform in Bates Recital Hall as part of the annual Black History Month Concert. The ensemble will perform works of Duke Ellington, Oliver Nelson, Thad Jones, Charles Mingus and John Clayton, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 13
The National Forum for Black Public Administration and the Carver Museum and Cultural Center present Looking Onward and Upward: Honoring the Civil Rights Act” from 6 to 9 p.m. A free event, there will be live entertainment, networking, a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a sneak preview of the stage play Picking Up the Pieces by Jeanette W. Hill.
Thursday, Feb. 20
UT’s Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, and the Center for African American Studies present visiting performing artist Coleman Domingo. Domingo is a Tony Award- and Drama League-nominated and OBIE Award-winning actor, director and playwright. He has appeared in numerous films, from Lee Daniels’ The Butler to Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. His UT residency begins with a performance lecture entitled The Intersection of Soul Music, Black Cultural Expression and Surrealism, with a reception following. The event will be held in the Lab Theatre at the Department of Theatre and Dance from 2 to 4 p.m.
The 15th annual African-American Community Heritage Festival, presented by state representative Dawnna Dukes and Women In Jazz, will be held on the sprawling grounds of Huston-Tillotson College. Last year’s event boasted more than 3,000 attendees and raised more than $100,000 for the school’s scholarship fund. Everything from arts and crafts and artisan vendors to games and bouncy castles makes this event fun for the entire family. This year, Grammy winner Howard Hewett, lead singer of the widely successful band Shalamar, will perform. The event runs from 1 to 5 p.m., and admission is free.
The Black Austin Democrats Political Action Committee is hosting the Austin Trailblazers Awards. The group is honoring attorney Machree Gibson, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, school board member Cheryl Bradley and journalist Alberta Phillips Bledsoe at the Westin at The Domain from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 23
Huston-Tillotson will host its 26th annual Blues and Jazz Fundraiser—A Valentine’s Day Dance. Renowned local musicians performing include James Polk and Pam Hart, Hot Wax, HT’s Jazz Ensemble and Austin Community College’s Big Band, to name a few. This year’s event also features a special tribute to the late, great Volma Overton, famed Austin civil rights leader and passionate dancer. The event is from 4 to 8 p.m., and will be held at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex, located at 1156 Hargrave St. Tickets are $25 pre-sale and $30 at the door.
The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center presents Keys of Life, a concert showcasing the hard work and talents of homegrown piano students. Under the direction of Daphne McDole, the apprentices of Keys of Life are promising, upcoming musicians and composers. This year, the music will be classic Motown melodies. The event will be held in the Carver’s Boyd Vance Theatre at the Carver Museum at 3 p.m.
KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, celebrates Black History Month with stories made in Austin about Austin:
Sundays at 1:30 p.m., starting Feb. 2
Each weekly program features top black studies scholars from the University of Texas speaking on projects and research focused on education, performance and youth empowerment.
Austin Revealed: Civil Rights Stories
This online series presents Austin’s civil rights history told through first-person interviews, exploring issues of gentrification and education.
American Masters—Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth
Feb. 7, 8 p.m.
Most famous for her seminal novel The Color Purple, writer and activist Alice Walker celebrates her 70th birthday. The first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for literature, her dramatic life is told through interviews with Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Gloria Steinem, Sapphire and more.
Feb. 6, 9 p.m.; Feb. 10, 10 p.m.
Witness the compelling and dramatic story of the 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his stirring “I Have a Dream” speech. The film reveals the dramatic story behind the event through the remembrances of key players.
Arts in Context: Reason to Dance
Feb. 27 at 9 p.m.
As a mother, teacher and dancer, China Smith is on a quest to spread awareness about the mixed nature and diversity of the African diaspora through contemporary dance.