Learn the history, celebrate the legacy, art and culture

Black History Month at UAB brings everyone together for explorations of history, language and Gullah culture, and see “Black Is Beautiful,” Will Downing with Maysa, and Ranky Tanky.

1203796112298357.lP4uF4FWx5MUTld7OryO height640Kwame Brathwaite, from a photo shoot at a public school for one of the AJASS-associated modeling groups that emulated the Grandassa Models and began to embrace natural hairstyles. Harlem, ca. 1966; from "Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful" (Aperture, 2019) Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles.See a documentary, take a close look at Gullah culture, and see photographs that sparked a movement during Black History Month in February at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Explore all the events at calendar.uab.edu/black-history-month.

The Institute for Human Rights Social Justice Café will have a virtual “Memorial to Our Ancestors” from 4-5 p.m. Feb. 1. On Feb. 2, IHR will present UAB Professor Emerita of Spanish Dellita Martin-Ogunsola, Ph.D., who specializes in Latin American literature with an emphasis on writers of African ancestry in the Caribbean. Martin-Ogunsola will present “A Journey Into African American History” at 4 p.m. in Heritage Hall. 

Participate in a screening and discussion of the documentary “African Redemption: The Life and Legacy of Marcus Garvey,” from 5-8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, in the UAB Hill Student Center.  Moderator for the talk will be author, poet, Garvey Scholar and Musgrave Medal recipient Geoffrey Philip. The event is presented by the Central Alabama Caribbean-American Organization, with the UAB African American Studies Program, Alabama Humanities Alliance and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  

UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts will present the exhibition “Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite,” organized by Aperture, from Feb. 7-March 25. Known as the “keeper of the images,” Brathwaite deployed his photography from the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s as an agent of social change. Alabama Jazz Hall of Famer Eric Essix will perform songs inspired by the civil rights era at the exhibition’s opening reception 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in AEIVA, 1221 10th Ave. South. AEIVA is open noon-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Admission is free and open to the public. Visit uab.edu/aeiva for more information.

1203796112298359.oBgSwFYttaHMpNRma341 height640Kwame Brathwaite, Sikolo Brathwaite, African Jazz-Art Society & Studios, Harlem, ca. 1968; from "Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful" (Aperture, 2019) Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles.Join ArtPlay and learn more about South Carolina’s Gullah culture and the educational efforts being made to preserve it. The noon virtual event Wednesday, Feb. 8 will feature guest speakers Alana Adams of the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and Gullah artist Michael Smalls. Registered viewers will receive a complimentary ticket to the band’s upcoming live performance. Register online

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center will present Will Downing’s Sophisticated Soul Explosion featuring special guests Maysa and poet Hank Stewart.

Enjoy Maysa’s honey-toned voice and magnetic stage presence with Downing’s distinctive baritone voice that has resonated in the hearts of women worldwide and carved a unique niche in music.

UAB Student Affairs, the Black Student Awareness Committee and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will host the second annual Black History Month Celebration at noon Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Hill Student Center Ballrooms. Attendees will learn about many of the contributions made by African Americans to UAB and the city of Birmingham, hear student testimonials, experience a live performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by the Student Affairs ensemble and more. The event will feature an interactive museum space, as well as historic photographs, artifacts and videos that narrate the African American experience.

On Thursday, Feb. 23, the Alys Stephens Center will present Grammy Award-winners Ranky Tanky, who hail from South Carolina’s West African-rooted Gullah community. Their music combines songs carried down through generations in the Sea Islands of the Southeastern United States with the band’s own original compositions in the Gullah tradition. Ranky Tanky is a Gullah phrase for “get funky.” The band are passionate global ambassadors for their local culture and community, helping to faithfully preserve and keep alive the traditions originated by African Americans in the coastal South during slavery. The performance is sponsored by the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine and the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

Tickets start at $39. A limited number of $10 student tickets are available for some performances. To buy tickets or for more information, call the ASC Box Office at 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

Stream Image Credit: Kwame Brathwaite, Sikolo Brathwaite wearing a headpiece designed by Carolee Prince, African Jazz-Art Society & Studios, Harlem, ca. 1968; from "Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful" (Aperture, 2019). Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles