February is Black History Month (BHM), which began as a week-long event in 1926, and groups in Forest Park have planned a variety of events for all ages to honor, celebrate and explore the history and stories of Black people in U.S. history. These organizations include Forest Park Against Racism (FPAR), the Forest Park Public Library, the Historical Society of Forest Park, and the Midwest Juneteenth Collective.
Marjorie Adam, a FPAR member, conceived of the event series.
“This year’s BHM is coming off of the heels of the pandemic, racial inequality protests, and rioted insurrection — recognizing that this is a collective trauma,” Adam said in a statement from the library. “It was very important to me that we create space for us as a community to reflect, learn, and honor our fellow Americans. Black people have always contributed to our broad American history. The diversity and complexity of that history isn’t anything to shy away from. On the contrary, it is an integral part of our American culture and ought to be celebrated and mainstreamed.”
Reimagining Freedom in America: The Historical Significance of Juneteenth for All Americans
On Jan. 31, guest speakers Mayor Rory Hoskins and Senator Kimberly Lightford spoke about the significance of Juneteenth for all Americans. Juneteenth, or June 19, is the day that commemorates Union soldiers enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation. Hoskins brought Juneteenth to Forest Park in 2009, and it has become an important date and event for residents and others in neighboring communities.
Exploring Black Space: An Introduction to Afrofuturism & Character Creation
Date: Feb. 7 from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Learn about Afrofuturism, an artistic movement that explores elements of Black history and culture through the lens of fantasy and science fiction in literature, music and art.
Recommended supplies for this workshop include at least three sheets of paper, a pencil and eraser, a blank ink pen, colored pencils or markers, and an image of yourself. This workshop is geared for high school students and adults familiar with comic book design illustration or live drawings.
Panel: How parents can support equity in their community (with HEROS)
Date: Feb. 23 from 4 to 5 p.m.
Join the Forest Park Public Library’s youth services manager and representatives from HEROS (Healing Racism in Our Schools) about their transformation from concerned community members to advocates. This is the first installment in the library’s Everyday Advocates series, which highlights the stories of everyday people serving as community builders and changemakers.
Bringing Black History to Life: Kucha & Baba Tony Storytellers
Date: Sunday, Feb. 14 from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Folktales, calls and response, dialect and poetry are all part of this 60-minute performance of diverse stories. The presentation will be accompanied by African drumming, shekere playing and audience participation, including singing and playing instruments.
Quilting a Beloved Community
Date: Sunday, Feb. 21 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Dr. Melissa Blount, a Detroit born artist and licensed psychologist, will host a virtual sewing circle where you will learn an embroidery stitch to begin the process of creating a Forest Park community quilt featuring historical and contemporary Black women.
All supplies can be picked up in the library’s vestibule at 7555 Jackson Blvd. Please plan to return your finished quilt square as it will be joined with others for the community’s first Black History Month quilt.
Paul Robeson: 20th Century Renaissance Man
Date: February 28 at 2 pm
These events are sponsored by Avenue One, the Forest Park National Bank, and the Forest Park Public Library. For more information on Black History Month, the event series, and book and film recommendations, please go to fppl.org/blackhistorymonth.