Ten Ways to Celebrate Black History Month 2021 in Seattle

A Drive-In Concert, the Soul of Seattle, Northwest Film Forum Picks, and More
February 2, 2021
Lauded tenor Frederick Ballentine will head up Seattle Opera's Celebrating Black Voices drive-in concert at the Museum of Flight (Sat Feb 13) alongside some of his fellow contemporary Black opera singers. (Dario Acosta)

So much of our culture is owed to Black artists, writers, thinkers, and communities, and Black History Month is a particularly great time to celebrate that. Whether you want to hear talks with Black authors (like a Seattle Arts & Lectures event with poet Toi Derricotte), support Black-owned restaurants (like at Edouardo Jordan's Soul of Seattle event), watch films that center Black lives (like the Northwest Film Forum's short film collection Our Right to Gaze: Black Film Identities), or check out local exhibits featuring Black artists (like Anastacia-Reneé's Frye Art Museum show), our roundup of events and resources should put you on the right track. Check out our full Black History Month calendar for even more options. 


Locally streaming Black cinema
Northwest Film Forum's February lineup includes the short film collection Our Right to Gaze: Black Film Identities (starting Feb 14), a pair of Madeline Anderson films from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (Feb 8–28), and Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (Feb 3–28), about a "civil rights-era radical" who, for over 30 years, "obsessively and privately recorded American television news twenty-four hours a day." Three Dollar Bill Cinema, in conjunction with Langston: Seattle Black Film Festival and the Black Cinema Collective, will also present a "Black Queer-story" shorts series (Feb 1–15). SIFF will also hold a virtual "Reel Black" class (Feb 16) on the films of director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk). 

Streamable options from national platforms
Other national streaming platforms are also highlighting Black cinema this month, including PBS, the Criterion Collection, KanopyAmazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix. You may also want to check out our guide to some notable POC-focused films about social justice & systematic inequality, or Jasmyne Keimig and Charles Mudede's list of extraordinary black directors for Black History Month.


Edouardo Jordan's Soul of Seattle event
For his annual event the Soul of Seattle, James Beard Award-winning chef Edouardo Jordan of JuneBaby and Salare is teaming up with Northwest Harvest to offer a series of virtual fundraising events (including live cooking demos, a panel discussion, takeout specials, an online dance party with Questlove, and more) throughout the month to benefit local Black chefs and organizations that focus on youth of color—read our interview with Jordan to learn more. 

Food & drink specials from Black-owned restaurants
The local intentional business directory the Intentionalist is also partnering with Seattle Sounders FC to offer a $250 tab at ten different local Black-owned businesses for anyone who would like to enjoy a treat on the house. The Black-owned, community-oriented Shoreline cafe Black Coffee Northwest will be offering special programming every Saturday and Sunday to celebrate the month, and the Black-owned restaurant Taste of the Caribbean is featuring different entrees each Friday, including jerk chicken, salt mackerel, ackee and saltfish, and red snapper. Plus, check out CSA boxes full of food products donated by local makers from Cooks for Black Lives Matter (which has raised over $25,000 for Black-led organizing in Seattle), Seattle Solidarity boxes packed with curated goods from Black-owned businesses from Savor Seattle, and the HOT 103.7 Stand Together box full of dishes and snacks from Black chefs in Seattle. For more ways to support local Black-owned businesses, check out our black-owned restaurant directory.


Indie bookstores with Black owners and Black author recommendations
The Black-owned Estelita's Library is planning to reopen a new space in the Central District this month, and you can support them on Bookshop in the meantime. Elliott Bay Book Company has a selection of their favorite books by Black authors on Instagram—like buzzy new releases Black Buck and The Prophets. The Book Larder also has a collection of cookbooks and food-centric memoirs from Black chefs, including the Edouardo Jordan-approved Black, White, and the Grey. Third Place Books' Social Justice Book Club also includes many notable books by Black authors, including this month's pick, We Still Here: Pandemic, Policing, Protest, and Possibility.

Black author talks
Town Hall's Black History Month speakers include the authors of The African Lookbook: A Visual History of 100 Years of African Women (Feb 10), The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke (Feb 18), Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons (Feb 9), and Black Lives Matter at School (Feb 24). Five-time Grammy-winning bassist Victor L. Wooten will also give a talk (Feb 13) about his new memoir, ahead of his virtual shows at Jazz Alley (Feb 25–28). Seattle Arts & Lectures' poetry series will also feature Toi Derricotte (Feb 26), and Langston Seattle and Wa Na Wari will present a virtual book launch for Seattle poet Chelsey Richardson's All Water Has Perfect Memory (Feb 27). 


Concerts with Black musicians
The Seattle Opera will get the drive-in treatment this month at their Celebrating Black Voices (Feb 13) event. Virtual concerts continue as well, including the Jackson Street Jazz Walk series (Feb 27-28), Victor Wooten & The Wooten Brothers (Feb 25–28), and Grace Love (Feb 5). 

Other local Black musicians to know about
Start with our guide to the Black Seattle musicians you should know about, and buy your favorites' albums on Bandcamp. We also talked to local band the Black Tones (who have a music video show, "Video Bebop," on the Seattle Channel) about their favorite musicians and local spots. KEXP also has a Black History Now feature on their website, including a "Black Spectrum Mixtape."


Black artists with February exhibits
When the Frye Art Museum reopens later this month, check out (Don’t be Absurd) Alice in Parts, the latest exhibit from one-time Seattle Civic Poet Anastacia-Reneé, who we recently interviewed about her favorite places in Seattle. While you're at it, get your tickets for SAM's reopening so you can check out Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, opening March 5. Conceptual artist Natasha Marin's Sites of Power is also viewable online.

Other visual resources for local Black history
The Seattle Public Library has a "Black History and Culture" collection of digitized newspapers, photographs, and other Puget Sound ephemera that's viewable online. The Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project also has a variety of resources, including films and slideshows.