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Black History Month Celebration
Virginia State University and Chesterfield County proudly present the 34th Black History Month (BHM) Celebration. Each February, Chesterfield County and Virginia State University celebrate the month with a variety of programs designed to explore the rich, diverse heritage of African Americans and their contributions to our community and nation. The 2023 BHM theme is Uniting Today for a Better Tomorrow.
Join us for the virtual programs and in-person events listed below throughout the month of February. View the 2023 BHM events flyer (PDF).
Celebrate Black History Month in this special story time. For children ages 2-5 and their caregivers. Registration begins Saturday, Jan. 28.
Date and Time: Saturday, Feb. 4, 10-10:30 a.m.
Location: Ettrick-Matoaca Library
Kick Off Celebration
Kick off Black History Month while dancing to music from DJ Chuck Stone. Break it Down RVA Line Dancing will help get you moving! Local talent will be showcased. Register for the event.
Date and Time: Saturday, Feb. 4, 1-4 p.m.
Location: Virginia State University - Gateway Dining Event Center
Scientific Racism and the First Psychiatric Facility for African Americans
Attend a screening of “Central Lunatic Asylum for the Colored Insane,” a documentary film written and produced by Dr. Shawn Utsey, Professor of Psychology at VCU. Questions and answers to follow. Registration begins Monday, Jan. 23.
Date and Time: Monday, Feb. 6, 6:30-8 p.m.
Location: Ettrick-Matoaca Library
My Life as a Sharecropper
Bring your lunch and enjoy local author James McKnight as he recounts the life of his grandfather’s legacy of a sharecropper. The speaker will discuss the influential life of his grandfather William Holliday who was a sharecropper in South Carolina and lived 112 years. Through personal stories of relatives and documentation, Mr. McKnight will share the impact of his grandfather’s life and legacy during this presentation. The program is free, but registration is required one week in advance. Register online for course 41851 or call 804-748-1623 for more information.
Date and Time: Tuesday, Feb. 7, noon- 1 p.m.
Location: Castlewood, 10201 Iron Bridge Road, Chesterfield, VA 23832
Marcus Garvey and the History of Black Liberation
Learn how Marcus Garvey and his followers built the largest mass movement in the history of the African Diaspora and what lessons their success holds for our understanding of the Black liberation struggle. Registration begins Wednesday, Jan. 25.
Date and Time: Wednesday, Feb. 8, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Location: LaPrade Library
The Question Remains: Liberty or Death with Michael Paul Williams
Join Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Michael Paul Williams for a discussion about the importance of free speech and democracy. Registration begins Thursday, Jan. 26.
Date and Time: Thursday, Feb. 9, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Location: North Courthouse Road Library
Barbara Johns: Teen Civil Rights Influencer (For Ages 6-11)
Living history performer Theresa Gee will share the story of 16-year-old Barbara Johns, who organized a school boycott demanding equal education. Her courageous protest played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement. Registration begins Saturday, Jan. 28.
Date and Time: Saturday, Feb. 11, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Location: Clover Hill Library
Life is History
Black History Month Presentation “Life is History” Speaker will be Dr. Lerla Joseph, one of the recipients of the Library of Virginia and Dominion Energy 's prestigious 2021 Strong Men and Strong Women in Virginia Awards. The focus of the presentation will be how each person’s life contributes to the oral or written archive of historical events during the course of their life, with particular focus on events in Dr. Joseph’s life and history. She will discuss how her life has been enriched by the yearly medical mission trips that she has made to Haiti since 2005. Reservations are required at least one week in advance. Space is limited. This free event will be held at the Chesterfield County Museum. For more information and to register, contact Pat Roble at 804-768-7311.
Date and Time: Saturday, Feb. 11, 11 a.m.-noon.
Location: Chesterfield County Museum
A Personal Call to Politics - This event has been postponed. It will be rescheduled for a later date.
Learn more about Senator Jennifer McClellan’s call to service that led her to the Senate of Virginia.
Date and Time: Postponed (Formerly scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 11, 2-3 p.m.)
Virtual Trip to the National Civil Rights Museum
Take a virtual guided journey of the major events of the Civil Rights Era, led by Ryan Jones, Associate Curator of the National Civil Rights Museum. Registration begins Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Date and Time: Tuesday, Feb. 14, 6-7 p.m.
Elizabeth Keckley Performance by Theresa Gee
See how Theresa Gee makes the pages of history come to life in this thought-provoking, heartfelt production of Mary Elizabeth Keckley, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker. Refreshments provided by Companion Extraordinaire Services. Register online for course 41592 in advance because space is limited for this free event. Contact Susan Miller at 804-212-8815 for more details.
Date and Time: Wednesday, Feb. 15, 10-11 a.m.
Location: Huguenot Road Baptist Church
The Rosenwald Project
Learn about the history of the Rosenwald Schools that were constructed throughout the South to improve African American children's educational experience. Discover the backstory behind this remarkable project initiated by Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington. Register online for course 41432 or contact Kim Graves at 804-768-7885 for more information.
Date and Time: Wednesday, Feb. 15, 11 a.m. - noon
Location: Stonebridge Recreation Center
Breaking the Brick Wall: Slavery and Genealogy
Find and identify enslaved ancestors and slave owners in an easy to understand guide to genealogical research by Dr. Deborah Abbott. Registration begins Feb. 1.
Date and Time: Wednesday, Feb. 15, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Telling Our Story in Song
Learn how African American spirituals, traditional hymns and gospel music have served as a thread connecting the music of Black ancestors to the sacred music of today. Join in as Rev. Zynora Manson performs musical selections from the catalog. Registration begins Thursday, Feb. 2.
Date and Time: Thursday, Feb. 16, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Location: Chester Library
Annual Scholarship Recognition
Tune in to a virtual recognition program, recognizing six outstanding Chesterfield County high school seniors for their achievements and contributions. Celebrate along with members of the local business community who support the scholarship program. The Annual Scholarship Recognition program will be available for viewing live streamed on Chesterfield.gov and on Chesterfield County’s YouTube channel.
Date and Time: Friday, Feb. 17, 8-10 a.m.
Location: Stream on Facebook
The Life and Legacy of Elizabeth Keckley
Join us for Black History Month Presentation Storyteller and Entertainer Theresa Gee who will present a costumed interpretive presentation about the life of native Virginian Elizabeth Keckley. Keckley was born into slavery in Dinwiddie County, Va., learned to sew as a young girl and eventually became a talented dressmaker who designed gowns for many prominent women in Washington, D.C. She made dresses for Mary Todd Lincoln which helped to begin a relationship as a friend and confidant that lasted for many years. Mrs. Keckley’s story is one of determination as well as personal heartache. A sculpture of her is featured at the Women’s History Monument at the State Capital in Richmond. This is a free event. Reservations are required and space is limited. For more information, call Martha Atkinson at 804-748-1498.
Date and Time: Saturday, Feb. 18, noon-1 p.m.
Location: Magnolia Grange Museum
Makin' Cake featuring Wisconsin Poet Laureate Dasha Kelly Hamilton
Join Wisconsin Poet Laureate and Milwaukee’s 2021 Artist of the Year Dasha Kelly Hamilton in her captivating play Makin’ Cake. She is an acclaimed writer, performer, and creative change agent. She slices into American history exploring race, culture, and class in a refreshing way! It is storytelling in layers, filled with vignettes, digital media, and a supporting cast of two onstage bakers. The show serves up a conversation about equity in America. Part history lesson, part social science revelation, Makin’ Cake is a short story about America’s sweet tooth and pathway to salvation—and leaves room for dessert and dialogue with a cake reception immediately following the performance.
Date and Time: Sunday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m.
Location: The Perkinson Center for the Arts
The Rosenwald Project
Learn about the history of the Rosenwald Schools that were constructed throughout the South as an effort to improve the educational experience of African American children. Discover the backstory behind this remarkable project initiated by Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington. Bring your lunch and enjoy this free event. Registration is required at least one week in advance. Register online for course 41853 or call 804-748-1623.
Date and Time: Tuesday, Feb. 21, noon-1 p.m.
Voting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond
Take a dive into the urban history of Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Julian Hayter of University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies discusses how the policies of the mid-20th century shaped the spaces we continue to inhabit. Registration begins Wednesday, Feb. 8.
Date and Time: Wednesday, Feb. 22, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Location: Bon Air Library
One Voice Chorus Ensemble in Concert
Join us for a performance by One Voice Chorus. One Voice Chorus was founded in 2002 by leaders of traditionally African American and European American churches in Richmond as an intentionally integrated, non-auditioned adult community chorus. Now a non-profit organization and one of the largest and most diverse choruses in Central Virginia, One Voice brings a musically diverse range of repertoire to the greater Richmond community. One Voice Chorus Ensemble, an auditioned group of singers from the larger chorus, will provide an uplifting choral experience in recognition of Black History Month. By demonstrating that there is so much more that unites us than divides us, One Voice enables the community to find power in collective strength. A reception will follow the free concert. Register online with course number 41761. Contact Karen Powell at 804-339-2877 for more information.
Date and Time: Thursday, Feb. 23, 1-2:30 p.m.
Location: Chesterfield Baptist Church
Black Excellence Open Mic
Celebrate Black History Month with a display of talent at the Black Excellence Open Mic night. Poets, singers, and musicians are encouraged to showcase a performance. Light refreshments will be served. This free event is open for all ages. Performers can register online with course 41795. For more details, call 804-706-2596.
Date and Time: This event has been canceled.
Location: Mayes-Colbert Ettrick Recreation Center
Underground Railroad Quilt Codes (Ages 6-11)
Learn more about coded quilt designs that may have been used by enslaved people to know how to stay safe when escaping through the Underground Railroad. Get to know what some of these hidden messages might have meant. This is a virtual event. Registration begins Saturday, Feb. 11.
Date and Time: Saturday, Feb. 25, 2-3 p.m.
Great Figures of American History: Rosa Parks
Join us for entertainment presented by Theresa Gee as Rosa Parks and dessert cake sampling by Shonda's Sweets, Treats and More. Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. The United States Congress has honored her as "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement." Theresa Gee will make the pages of history come to life in this thought provoking, heartfelt production and Shanda will be sure to treat your taste buds. This is a free event. Register online for course 42009. Call 804-768-7904 for more information.
Date and Time: Monday, Feb. 27, 1-2:30 p.m.
Location: Bensley Recreation Center
Virginia During the Massive Resistance
Join Joseph Rogers from the Virginia Museum of History & Culture who will discuss the steps politicians took to keep Virginia schools segregated and the educators and students who fought back. This event will be held Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Central Library. Registration begins Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Date and Time: Tuesday, Feb. 28, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Location: Central Library
Leadership for the 21st Century Scholarships
The Chesterfield County Black History Month Celebration Program sponsors the Leadership for the 21st Century Scholarships for eligible Chesterfield County Public Schools students. The scholarships are designed to recognize and reward the achievements and contributions of Chesterfield County high school seniors.
This year’s scholarship essay asked Chesterfield County high school seniors to reflect on the 2023 Black History Month theme Uniting Today for a Better Tomorrow. The students’ essays focused on important moments in our history that have united the American people for a better tomorrow and how cultural events and people have impacted their life and community.
2023 Annual Scholarship Recognition
On Friday, Feb. 17, six winners were awarded $2,500 scholarships, with one winner selected from each of the county’s five magisterial districts and the sixth chosen from one of the regional governor schools at the Annual Scholarship Recognition. The event was held at Virginia State University's (VSU) Gateway Dining and Event Center. Terrell A. Benton, regional vice president for the YMCA of Greater Richmond, delivered the keynote address during the Scholarship Recognition Program.
2023 Chesterfield County Leadership for the 21st Century scholarship winners (PDF):
- Gabriella Baracat, Clover Hill High School
- Elena Bland, Cosby High School
- Madison Hawley, Thomas Dale High School
- Joanne Lin, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School
- Conner Reid, Midlothian High School
- William Waid, L.C. Bird High School
From left: Joanne Lin, Gabriella Baracet, Connor Reid, William Waid and Elena Bland.
Become a sponsor of the Virginia State University and Chesterfield County Black History Month Celebration by donating to the VSU Office of Institutional Advancement. For more information, please contact the VSU Office of Institutional Advancement by calling 804-524-5045.