Celebrate Black History Month in Downtown Indianapolis

Experience living Black History on Indiana Avenue
Indiana Avenue is a powerful version of the American dream through an African-American lens. The Avenue is the historic African-American commercial, entertainment and worship center. Today’s landscape is filled with enduring landmarks, a burgeoning university campus, contemporary residences and a lush waterway. Indiana Avenue truly is rhythm reborn. The rich heritage comes to life on stage, in public art, museums, art galleries, nightlife and in the church.

Also located on Indiana Avenue is the historic Madame Walker Theatre Center. The Madame Walker Theatre Center, housed in the historic Madame C.J. Walker Building, has long symbolized the spirit of creativity and community pride in Downtown Indianapolis. Celebrate Black History Month with the Walker Theatre by joining Freetown Village for an evening dinner theatre called “This Little Light” on Feb. 18. Enjoy live music and a lesson in history at this living history museum. Also join the Madame Walker Theatre for Jazz on the Avenue Feb. 25 in the Ballroom for live jazz and cocktails. Call 236.2099 for more information.

Art & Soul at the Indianapolis Artsgarden
Don’t miss more than 18 FREE performances throughout the month of February as part of the 15th annual Art & Soul in the Indianapolis Artsgarden, which kicks off Jan. 27. This annual celebration of African-American art and artists celebrates Black History Month. The performances feature a broad range of musical, dance, spoken word, poetry and living history from both established and emerging artists. Highlights throughout the month of February include Billy Wooten Jazz Trio, Gregg Bacon, June Rochelle, the Asante Children’s Theatre and many more. For more details and a schedule of events call 631.3301 or visit the Indy Arts Web site.

Learn about black history
Join The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis as black history comes alive during the month of February. Don’t miss Target Family Night Feb. 3 from 4 – 8 p.m. Celebrate African-American heritage and achievements in history, science, art and music FREE of charge. Experience a slave’s flight to freedom and learn to navigate using the Big Dipper during Follow the Drinking Gourd starting Feb. 1 at 11 a.m. On Feb. 3, 5 and12, celebrate Black History Month in Lilly Theatre with vignettes exploring the lives of Levi Coffin and Madame C.J. Walker at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and 1 p.m. on Saturday. To learn more, call 334.3322.

In celebration of Black History Month, the Indiana Historical Society and Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) invite children and families to learn about Indiana’s rich African-American history by participating in the Indiana Black History Challenge. The Indiana Black History Challenge is a contest that invites participants to investigate famous African-American Hoosiers and their contributions to society. The 10-question challenge can be taken online beginning Feb. 1. Printed game cards will also be made available at the beginning of February at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, as well as all branches of the IMCPL.

The first 5,000 entrants to the Indiana Black History Challenge will receive a prize. All participants who complete the challenge and answer all questions correctly are entered into a drawing for the grand prize and runner-up awards. The grand prize is a Family Fun Pack that includes an overnight stay at the Omni Severin Hotel in Downtown Indianapolis; four tickets to special exhibitions at the Indianapolis Museum of Art; a $25 gift certificate to Weber Grill Restaurant and a family membership to the Indiana Historical Society, which includes free admission to the Indiana Experience for a year. One winner from each IMCPL branch and the History Center will receive a runner-up prize of a family four-pack of tickets to an Indianapolis Indians game. For more information, contact the IHS at 232.1882.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art’s (IMA) Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial exhibition will open Feb. 25. As an artist, Dial explores the truth of American history and culture in all its complexities and contradictions. This exhibition includes more than 50 pieces of Dial’s work that range from sculptures to paintings and that address some of the most compelling issues of our time. Find out more information on the exhibition call 923.1331.

Visit the Indiana State Museum for their “African Americans in Indiana” gallery search starting Feb. 1 to uncover the rich culture and contributions of Indiana’s black communities. Meet President Lincoln on Feb. 12 and enjoy period music and activities or see Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches in the Legacy Theater through the end of March. Call 232.1637 for more information.

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art will host the 4th Annual Leon Jett Memorial Lecture featuring Dr. Quintard Taylor, professor of American History at the University of Washington, on Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. Taylor will discuss how African Americans helped shape and develop the American West. A new exhibit that is partnered with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian called Red Black: Related Through History will open Feb. 12. Red Black will showcase the interactions between early black slaves and Native Americans. Call 636.9378 for more information.

Head over to the Garfield Parks Art Center for “Black Pearls”: An Artistic Celebration of Black History Month starting Feb. 5. The FREE exhibit showcases African and African-American artists and will display sculpture, drawing, painting and ceramics. Hands on creative family activities will take place every Saturday and Sunday throughout February. Hours for Garfield Parks Art Center are Tuesday – Thursday 2 – 9 p.m., Friday 1 – 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 – 5 p.m. For more information call 327.7135.

Black History performances
The Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) presents Charlayne Woodard’s Going Solo: Neat from Feb.10 – March 6. In this sequel to Woodard’s “Pretty Fire,” teenaged Charlayne encounters boys, high school, civil rights and her own vivid imagination, all while learning to live with her disabled aunt, Neat. Tickets, show information and a schedule of consortium events are available by calling 635.5252.

Join the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for the 26th Anniversary Celebration of Black History Concert Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. The ISO’s annual concert celebrates the significant impact of African-American culture on classical and symphonic music as well as the superb artistry and creativity of black artists, composers and conductors. This year the concert will be conducted by an Indianapolis audience favorite, Thomas Wilkins. This event is FREE and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for general seating. Call 639.4300 for more information.