Carter G. Woodson, an African-American historian and writer, founded Black History Week in 1926 to encourage the study of African American history. He chose February to rally around the birthdays of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. During the nation's bicentennial in 1976, Grand Rapids' own President Gerald R. Ford expanded the week to a month writing "we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."

Celebrate Black History in Downtown GR

Here below is a roundup of events - from galas to photography exhibits to an opportunity to help build a walking tour of black history - taking in place in Downtown Grand Rapids in recognition of Black History Month 2017.

If you know of an event taking place Downtown not presented below please drop us a note with the information to Our goal is to present a comprehensive listing of Black History Month events occuring in Downtown.

*Event dates/times subject to change.

February 1 - 28, 2017

January 27-March 31, 2017

  • Here + Now | A series of solo exhibitions, performances and community events curated by the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts.

February 1-4, 2017

12:00 PM - 5:00 PM

  • Lift Every Voice: A Place for All People Poster Exhibit | The Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives (GRAAMA) has partnered with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to present a collection of posters explaining the importance of African American museums and why GRAAMA will also be A Place for All People.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

10:00 AM

  • Kwanzaa Reboot | Join GRAAMA for the continuation of Kwanzaa 2016 dialogue.

6:00 PM

Sunday, February 5, 2017

  • Finders Keepers: West Michigan Collects | The Grand Rapids Art Museum and GRAAMA partner to present the Grandma's Voices - Oral History project featuring a collection of local residents speaking on issues from race to gumbo.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

12:00 PM

  • Unveiling of Muhammad Ali Ice Sculpture & Opening of Pop-up Photo Exhibit | The GRAAMA will reveal a life size Ali made of ice as part of the annual ValentICE festival and feature items and photos from the boxer's life in Michigan.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

10:00 AM

  • What's Your History Worth | The GRAAMA shares advice on collecting African American art, artifacts, books and dolls.

Friday, February 17, 2017

8:00 - 9:30 AM

Saturday, February 18, 2017

8:00 - 10:30 PM

Sunday, February 19, 2017

1:00 - 4:30 PM

  • Taste of Soul Sunday | This event at the Downtown branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library celebrates African American heritage and culture.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

7:00 - 9:00 PM

  • On Healing Black Girl Pain | The Grand Rapids Community College Diversity Lecture Series presents a talk with author Consuela Ward.

Friday, February 24, 2017

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

  • Grand Rapids Legacy Luncheon | This luncheon at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel recognizes student scholars, community leaders and black heritage.

5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

  • Grand Rapids Legacy Ball | This event at the JW Marriott celebrates student scholars, community leaders and black heritage.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

10:00 AM

  • Tracing Your Roots | This genealogy class at the GRAAMA is for beginners who want to learn about their family history.