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    Discovering her past: Element uncovers her roots through African Ancestry DNA testing Tarik Moody

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Black Futures Month: a new chapter in the story of Black History Month

todayFebruary 3, 2024

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Black Futures Month, observed each February, is a time to honor the rich heritage of the Black community while also looking forward to the possibilities and advancements ahead. This celebration is a visionary and forward-looking spin on the traditional Black History Month, encouraging us to reflect on Black individuals’ significant contributions throughout history and imagine and work towards a future filled with justice, liberation, and love.

Significance and History

Established in 2015 by the Movement for Black Lives, Black Futures Month is a call to action for communities and allies to embrace the hard truths of history, including the oppression of Black individuals, while recognizing Black communities’ resilience and thriving against all odds. It is a time to uplift Black individuals’ ongoing achievements and contributions and to remember and learn from Black history.

Events and Celebrations

Events during Black Futures Month range from art exhibitions and music performances to educational panels and community gatherings. For instance, the Willie Mae Rock Camp in Brooklyn hosts special events to commemorate the month. At the same time, Public Records in New York celebrates with soul music performances honoring African American secular traditions. The Studio Museum in Harlem offers a selection of Afrofuturistic art and publications, and various cities like Oakland organize weekly film screenings and panels to contextualize important moments in Black history and futures.

Chicago

In Chicago, various organizations host events to celebrate Black Futures Month. UCAN, for instance, organizes a series of events throughout February, including a panel on The Future of Black Chicago and a Valentine’s Day Brunch. The Museum of Science and Industry’s annual Black Creativity program features an exhibition of Black and African American art, educational events, career showcases, and a celebratory gala.

The Chicago Humanities Festival also hosts events featuring discussions on Black futures. For example, Krista Franklin and Nate Marshall have given talks on the subject, and Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham have presented in partnership with OTV. A special event celebrating the career and contribution to Black history of Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy is also scheduled.

Milwaukee

In Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) hosts a variety of events for Black Futures Month. These include a Black History Month Kickoff with live music, a vendor fair featuring Milwaukee’s Black-owned businesses, and a three-day event highlighting the contributions of Black Veterans in U.S. military history.

Marquette University also has a series of events lined up for Black History Month, including “Voices Unheard: Understanding Black Culture’s Relationship with Drug Use,” “The Black Boy Blooms,” and “Things Your History Teacher Didn’t Teach You: Blacks in History.” Other events include the annual Ebony Ball and a Black Joy exhibit.

Milwaukee Film’s sixth annual Black History Month celebration showcases engaging and entertaining films. The programming is focused on reclaiming stories, exploring identities, and looking to the future. Screenings include titles such as Boomerang, the 1992 Eddie Murphy-helmed cult-status classic romantic comedy.

Music and Art in Black Futures Month

Music and art are integral to celebrating Black Futures Month, serving as mediums through which the Black community expresses its rich cultural heritage and envisions its future. These forms of expression are not only a reflection of the community’s past but also a beacon for its future, influencing global culture and inspiring change.

The Role of Music in Black Futures Month

Music has always been a cornerstone of Black culture, encapsulating the struggles, triumphs, and aspirations of the community. During Black Futures Month, music takes center stage in various events and initiatives. For example, “Music Mondays” spotlight dynamic Black artists, showcasing their talents and contributions to the musical landscape. World Cafe, for instance, turns its ear toward the future by highlighting up-and-coming musicians who are blazing their paths beyond genre constraints, offering a playlist that spans pop, hip-hop, R&B, jazz, electronic music, and rock.

The significance of music in Black Futures Month is also evident in events like “Noir at Nite,” which celebrates soul music and honors African American secular traditions. These musical celebrations are not just about entertainment; they are about preserving and advancing the cultural legacy of Black music and its impact on society.

Artistic Expressions During Black Futures Month

Art plays a similarly pivotal role in Black Futures Month, with various exhibitions and events showcasing the creativity and vision of Black artists. For example, the Studio Museum in Harlem offers a selection of Afrofuturistic art and publications, providing a space for Black artists to explore and express their visions for the future. 

These artistic expressions are a testament to the resilience and innovation of the Black community, offering a glimpse into a future where Black creativity is recognized and celebrated. The Black Futures Festival, introduced by the Black Speculative Arts Movement, is another example of how art is used to introduce concepts of Black Speculative Art and Afrofuturism, creating immersive experiences that challenge and expand the traditional narratives surrounding Black culture.

The Future of Black Love

The future of Black love is a central theme in Black Futures Month, emphasizing the need for a society grounded in trust, collective care, and abundance. This vision of love is expansive, embracing queer identities and rejecting scarcity and zero-sum thinking. It is about building reciprocal relationships that sidestep oppressive systems and meet each other’s needs with mutuality and kindness.

The future of Black love is also about embracing love for the natural world and creating anti-capitalist ecosystems that nurture a broad political home where Black communities can organize and take action. This includes initiatives like climate preparation in Black communities connected to a broader climate mandate.

Conclusion

Black Futures Month is a time to consider and celebrate Black history, life, and love while also dreaming and envisioning a world where Black individuals can thrive in all aspects of society. It is a month dedicated to the future of Black populations, ensuring that America and the world are truly invested in the success and joy of Black communities. Celebrating Black Futures Month reminds us of the importance of resistance, joy, and the collective dream of a better tomorrow for all.

Celebrating Black Futures Month is not just about acknowledging the past; it’s about actively creating a future where Black joy, innovation, and community are at the forefront. Let us all join this celebration and contribute to building a world that cherishes and uplifts Black lives daily.

Written by: Tarik Moody

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