Since 1976, every president has proclaimed February as Black History Month. This year, President Barack Obama's proclamation said that "we stand on the shoulders of courageous individuals who endured the thumps of billy clubs, the blasts of fire hoses, and the pain of watching dreams be deferred and denied."
A number of events throughout Southern California celebrate the rich history and cultural diversity of African-Americans during Black History Month. Here are seven different ways to celebrate:
The 24th annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival will showcase more than 150 films, plus more than 100 artists and crafters from around the world. The festival starts Feb. 4 and runs through Feb. 15. Not only will there be film screenings and artists showcasing their work, but there are special events throughout the festival like the free PAFF Fashion Show, which will showcase African fashions at 2 p.m. on Feb. 14.
When: Feb. 4 through 15
Where: Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills | MAP
Price: See the Event Schedule for various pricing
With celebrity guests, an art contest, plus a parade and faire, the Orange County Heritage Council is hosting its 36th annual Black History Month event on Saturday. This year, the parade's grand marshal is actress Kellita Smith, known for her role as Wanda on "The Bernie Mac Show." The Orange County Heritage Council says that its goal is to promote the local and national historical contributions of black people. The parade and faire features elected officials, performing groups, city service vehicles and more.
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6
Where: Downtown Anaheim | Parade Route Map
Aquarium of the Pacific is hosting its African-American Festival on Feb. 27 and 28. The festival will bring live entertainment like break dancers, Mardi Gras line dancers, interactive drum circles and storytellers to celebrate African-American and African cultures. Plus there will be festive food, arts and crafts. Admission is included with general admission.
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 27 and 28
Where: Aquarium of the Pacific | MAP
Price: Included with general admission | Tickets
A great event for kids, Woodcrest Library's drum circle celebration will bring African-American history to life. Featuring storyteller Ina Buckner-Barnette and percussionist Chazz Ross, the event will have a multicultural drum circle with djembe drums.
When: 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19
Where: Woodcrest Library | MAP
Dive deeper into African-American history with the California African American Museum's lecture series. From 19th century Reconstruction period, to U.S. presidents who owned slaves, the Black History Month lecture series at CAAM explores the historical themes that have shaped today's world. Scheduled lectures are on Feb. 7, 20 and 28.
When: Mostly Sundays in February | Schedule
Where: California African American Museum | MAP
Price: Free — RSVP at (213) 744-2024
6. Watch the premiere of 'Race'
The true story of Olympian Jesse Owens is told in the biopic "Race" opening Feb. 19. At the 1936 Olympics in Germany, Owens made history by setting a world record for the long jump that lasted 25 years — and winning four gold medals in the cultural climate of Nazi Germany. The movie follows his journey to the Olympics and the struggles he faced as a black man competing in the aryan-supremacist country.
When: 'Race' hits theaters on Feb. 19
7. Visit Biddy Mason Park
Bridget "Biddy" Mason was born into slavery in 1818. Her owner — a Mormon man — made a pilgrimage from the south to Utah, then to San Bernardino to establish a Mormon community, according to BlackPast.org. Slavery was illegal in California at that time, and Mason went to court for her freedom — and won. She purchased land in what is now downtown Los Angeles and founded a church. A public art display with a timeline of "Grandma" Mason's life by Sheila de Bretteville is on display at Biddy Mason Park in downtown L.A.
Where: Biddy Mason Park | MAP
How do you celebrate Black History Month? Let me know on Twitter @kellie_gal.