While Black History Month was first celebrated in February 1976, its origins actually date back to 1915 when Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson and Moorland went on to create a Negro History Week during the second week of February in honor of the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 20). Over the years, the event has grown to encompass an entire month dedicated to the celebration and study of Black history, culture and the accomplishments of African Americans. To celebrate this year, we’ve tapped into Black history at Virgin Hotels cities and discovered some fascinating places where you can explore and learn more.
Civil Rights Leaders & Jazz Legends in Chicago
From the Great Migration of hundreds of thousands of African Americans at the turn of the 20th century to Jazz Age legends and President Barack Obama, Chicago is a city deeply rooted in Black history. Head to the historic Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago where you can embark on a self-guided walking tour along the Bronzeville Walk of Fame, which honors more than 100 impressive neighborhood residents through history including Civil Rights activist Ida B. Wells, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong and astronaut Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. This is also where you’ll find the Monument to the Great Migration, a testament to those who risked everything to start a new life in the Windy City.
Folk Art & Sports in Dallas
Dallas is home to the African American Museum, which is the only institute of its kind in the southwest dedicated to the art, culture and history of African Americans. Originally founded in 1974 on the campus of Bishop College, today the museum is situated on idyllic Fair Park amidst other cultural institutions. It’s home to one of the largest folk art collections in the country with more than 200 pieces. It also houses the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame and impressive archival collections that chronicle the state’s African American history. During February’s Black History Month, Vicki Meek’s retrospective “3 Decades of Social Commentary” is on display with multi-media works inspired by the 1960s Black Power and Black Arts movements.
Music History in Nashville
From the Blue Bird Café to the Grand Ole Opry and the honkytonks lining Broadway, Nashville has earned its nickname Music City. It’s only natural then that the National Museum of African American Music would choose to open its doors in Nashville this January just in time for Black History Month. This brand-new museum charts the contributions and influences that Africa Americans have made on music from spirituals to blues, jazz, gospel, hip hop and more through objects, memorabilia, artifacts and technology for an engaging and interactive experience. With galleries organized chronologically, you’ll explore the evolution of African American music traditions from the 1600s to today. The museum is also home to the Roots Theater for live performances and concerts.
Looking for more ways to get involved in Music City? Sip and support, our hotel in Nashville has partnered with The Equity Alliance all month long at The Lodge at The Pool Club with a $10 Alliance cocktail, featuring Guidance Whiskey. A portion of the sales will benefit The Equity Alliance. View our event to learn more.
The theme for Black History Month this year is The Black Family: Representation, Identity & Diversity and we’re looking forward to diving in. At Virgin Hotels, we are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in every aspect of our operations. We were especially inspired by the words of inaugural poet 22-year-old Amanda Gorman in her poem The Hill We Climb: “Let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left, with every breath from my bronze, pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.”
Listen to our playlist which celebrates Black History Month—the playlist which is an ode to the Black experience in American features a collection of songs from Black artists.
Written By Shayne Benowitz