Black History Month


Southfield Celebrates Black History Month 2024: African Americans and the Arts!

The City of Southfield is a model of multiculturalism as one of the most diverse, progressive and integrated communities in Michigan and the Midwest. Southfield is proud to be an international city that is home to people from a rich array of cultural, racial, and religious backgrounds, including a large concentration of African Americans.  

One of the City of Southfield’s brand key messages is: A Place for Everyone. It is this belief that our racial and religious diversity is a strength that weaves together the cultural fabric of our community. There truly is A Place for Everyone in the City of Southfield.  All people, from virtually all walks of life, live peacefully together in harmony within our city boundaries.

From documentary viewings and education programming, to musical and dance performances, there are always a variety of events in the City of Southfield each year to honor and celebrate Black History Month. The City of Southfield annually hosts and sponsors a number of city programs, events and activities to remember the important contributions and celebrate the history of African-Americans. The City of Southfield Parks & Recreation Department, Southfield Public Library and several other city departments and community groups work together to plan and produce a wide range of educational and recreational programs and events that celebrate Black history and culture.

Black History Month is a time to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

Originating in the United States, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Today, Black History Month has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada, and more recently Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Black History Month Kick-Off Event – Saturday, February 3

Southfield Parks & Recreation will host the ‘Southfield Celebrates Black History Month 2024 Kick-off Event’ on Saturday, February 3 from 4-8 p.m. in the Southfield Pavilion, 26000 Evergreen Road. This free event (suitable for ages 12 and up) will feature the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, a discussion with its founder Dr. Khalid el-Hakim and actor Ralph Carter best known for playing Michael on Good Times.

  • There will be a number of presentations and performances throughout the event including:
  • The Black Excellence Fashion Show presented by Love Rose at 4:30 p.m.;
  • Performances by Impulse Dance Academy, and B Intentional (5:10 – 6:35 p.m.); 
  • Presentation by Black History 101 Mobile Museum founder Dr. Khalid el-Hakim and actor Ralph Carter at (6:45-7:45 p.m.);
  • The Black-owned Business Marketplace will be open throughout the event for attendees to browse and support black-owned businesses from throughout the metro Detroit area; and
  • DJ DeezyD will be providing music throughout the evening.

Walk Through History Display and Black History Activity Bags & T-Shirts

The Walk Through History display will feature informational signs describing some well-known and lesser known influential African Americans throughout Southfield and world history. The Walk Through History will be on display inside the Southfield Pavilion from February 1-29, 2024. Admission is free.

Southfield Parks & Recreation will offer Black History Month Activity Bags containing crafts and activities to discover and learn more about significant people, events and more for $5 each (while supplies last) by calling Southfield Parks & Recreation at (248) 796-4620.  Pick up of all activity bags will take place at the Parks & Recreation information desk. Celebrate Black History Month T-Shirts will also be available in sizes small through 4x for $20-$22 each while supplies last at all in-person events.

Conversation & Cocktails – Saturday, February 12

Southfield’s Black History Month Celebration will continue on Saturday, February 11 from 7-10 p.m. in the Southfield Pavilion with Conversations & Cocktails, a special program acknowledging and celebrating the contributions of African Americans to society and the world with some of metro Detroit’s most notable poets and drummers. Conversations & Cocktails will feature Alex Goss & Detroit Soul Rhythm Band performing R&B and Soul music from the 70’s 80’s & 90’s as well as spoken word hosted by Joel Fluent Greene.

There will also be a cash bar and food available for purchase. General Admission tickets are $15 per person and are available for purchase at the Parks & Recreation Information Desk located inside the Parks & Recreation Building or online at

Black History Month Movie Night – Friday, February 16

Black History Month Movie Night, featuring the 2022 documentary Is That Black Enough for You?!? will take place on Friday, February 16 at 7 p.m. in the Southfield Pavilion. The film, written and directed by Elvis Mitchell, examines the history, craft, and legacy of African American cinema, particularly films released in the 1970s. This film is rated R. Admission is free and refreshments will be available for purchase.

The Secret Society of Twisted Story Tellers Friday, February 23

The Secret Society of Twisted Story Tellers will return to the Southfield Pavilion on Friday, February 23 beginning at 6 p.m. This year’s show features Emeline King, Monica Morgan, Rodney Pearson, and Viakim Royster-Weary and is hosted by Satori Shakoor. Doors open at 6 p.m. for a 45 minute Pre-glow meet and greet session with the performers followed by the performance from 7 – 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person and are available for purchase in person or online anytime at

All indoor events feature limited capacity and tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information, contact Southfield Parks & Recreation at (248) 796-4620 or visit

Conversations in Fiber Art Exhibition – Opening Reception Thursday, February 15

Mayor Kenson Siver and the Southfield Public Arts Commission will host Conversations in Fiber opening reception and public art exhibition on Thursday, February 15 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. featuring nine Michigan-based artists at the Southfield City Hall Main Lobby, 26000 Evergreen Road. 

The exhibition of work will be on display February 9 through April 30 featuring the works of April Anue, Boisali Biswas, Dorothy Jett-Carter, Cassandra Harris, Patricia L. Millender, Dolores Slowinski, Mandisa Smith, Toya Thomas, and Najma Wilson. The exhibit and opening reception is free and open to the public.  

Southfield Public Library Black History Month Events

The Underground Railroad in Southfield and the Extraordinary Story of John Sella Martin” – Wednesday, January 31

Birmingham Museum researchers will feature the story of John Sella Martin at a free lecture at the Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road on Wednesday, January 31 at 6:30 p.m. The program, “The Underground Railroad in Southfield and the Extraordinary Story of John Sella Martin” is the first in a yearlong series sponsored by Oakland County’s Historical Society, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2024. 

The Birmingham Museum has been leading a five-community research project on the Underground Railroad (UGRR) in Oakland County as part of a grant-funded effort supported in part by Michigan Council for the Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The pilot project involves volunteer teams in Birmingham, Farmington, Royal Oak, Pontiac and Southfield conducting evidence-based research on area connections to the Underground Railroad.

Advance tickets are recommended as there is limited capacity at Seats are expected to fill early.

Black History Mysteries - All Month

To celebrate Black History Month each week in February the library will feature a mystery for families to solve. Participants can come to the youth desk and receive a clue sheet then make their way through the youth room to find the answers. Once all answers have been found all team members will receive a prize and can enter drawing to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Book to Screen: The Color Purple – Wednesday, February 8

The Southfield Public Library will host the first installment of Book to Screen on February 14 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. with a discussion of The Color Purple by Alice Walker, the 1985 film and the new 2023 film. 

Black History Month Open Mic Celebration – Saturday, February 10

The Southfield Public Library will host the Black History Month Open Mic Celebration on February 10 from 1-4 p.m. Attendees can showcase their talent and enjoy the creative performances of others! Original spoken word by individuals and groups are welcome and encouraged! Tony Speaks will be the MC host.  The event will feature food, vendors, music and more!

Pre-registration is required to perform The deadline to register is Monday, Feb. 5th. Walk-ins are welcome if time permits. Content should be PG-13. Performers will be given specific performance times and kept to a maximum of five minutes.

Maureen's Mesmerizing Book Buzz: featuring books for Black History month – Tuesday, February 13

Maureen's Mesmerizing Book Buzz: featuring books for Black History month will take place February 13 from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. at the Southfield Public Library. The event will be a fun and informative book-talk, celebrating dozens of books that feature titles written by African American authors, books written about the accomplishments of African Americans and of the history of African Americans. Teacher-Librarian Maureen will introduce titles recommended for ages 9 - Young Adult, share a brief summary of the books, characters and the recommended ages for each title.

Tuesday Evening Book Club reads The Violin Conspiracy – Tuesday, February 13

The Tuesday Night Book Club will be discussing The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb on February 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Southfield Room on the 3rd floor of the Southfield Library and virtually on Zoom. This book discussion is in honor of John and Dorothy Creecy who were instrumental in the opening of the Southfield Public Library and loved to share literature with the community.

If you'd like to receive a monthly email reminder about upcoming meetings or if you have any further questions, please contact

Achievement: A Celebration of Black Innovation, Invention, and Leadership – February 26 – March 22

A Celebration of Black Innovation, Invention, and Leadership will be on display at the Southfield Public Library Circulation Lobby from February 26 -  March 22. This traveling display from the Automotive Hall of Fame recognizes the contributions African Americans have made to the automotive industry that have not been celebrated or even fully captured and shared. Realizing that these are important narratives that need to be brought to light, this exhibit is the Automotive Hall of Fame's first effort to join with community in telling these stories.

Hearing the Story with author Jean Alicia Elster – Wednesday, February 28

The Southfield Public Library will host award-winning author and 2017 Kresge Artist Fellow Jean Alicia Elster on February 28 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Elster will share details of how the oral history tradition within her family formed the backbone of the narrative and plot development of her Ford family historical fiction trilogy volumes Who’s Jim Hines?, The Colored Car and the recently published How It Happens. Copies of the books will be available for sale and signing.

Gala Reception and Book Launch of "A Tribute to President Barack H. Obama: Your Story Inspired Our Story" – Thursday, February 29

The Presidential Book Committee, comprised of six local sponsoring organizations, will host a book launch and reception for the release of “A Tribute to President Barack H. Obama: Your Story Inspired Our Story” on Thursday, February 29 from 6-8 p.m. in the Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road.

The event will feature remarks from local leaders and community activists including the first African American Southfield City Councilmember Barbara Talley who served on the Presidential Book Committee, retired Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris and others. The Book was sponsored by: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. ®-Pi Tau Omega Chapter; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc-Southfield Alumnae Chapter; the National Congress of Black Women of Oakland County; The Empowerment Church; Southfield-Lathrup Village Optimist Club, Inc; and the Western International Optimist Club. 

The “Tribute to President Barack Obama” honors the former president, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and one of the most influential figures in political history for his historical service as the first African American President of the United States of America. Readers will learn a brief history of the six organizations in southeast Michigan that spearheaded the tribute effort, as well as personal stories from individuals within these organizations. Through this tribute comes hope that all individuals, no matter race or creed, can aspire to the highest positions in government and can accomplish what they set out to achieve.

Attorney Dorothy J. Dean facilitated the production of this book as the official Project Manager and Editor. She is also a contributor to The Drum Major Beat: The Audacity to Make a Difference, a publication that marked the 30th anniversary of the Southfield Task Force and tells the story of Michigan's first documented Peace Walk in celebration of the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Additional book sponsors include the Southfield Dr. Martin Luther King Task Force, UAW International Executive Board, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Sigma Delta Lambda Chapter, Barbara P. Seldon, All-4-Fitness, ELE-Wealth Management, ELE-Peagler LLC, and Primerica.

For more information, call Presidential Book Committee Project Manager & Editor Dorothy Dean, Esq. at (248) 790-0531 or Cheryl Thames, Secretary & Past-President Optimist Club of Southfield-Lathrup Village at (248) 506-5118.