Denver Celebrates Black History Month

Photo // Sarai Nissan

Photo // Sarai Nissan


Denver has an abundant history of venerated black artists, public servants, and activists that are being celebrated throughout the month of February with many events taking place throughout the city of Denver. From film screenings to performances, art exhibits, and discussions, this month offers numerous opportunities to celebrate black history.

Through the entire month of February, the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame presents the exhibit Legacies As Tall As Mountains at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. This free exhibit features the African American women and other women of color from Colorado who were pioneers of the state.

The Denver Firefighters Museum is showcasing an exhibit honoring the African American firefighters who preserved their rights to their careers during a time when this profession was so segregated. Only costing $5 for children and $7 for adults, the museum is located on 13th and Tremont.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated openings this month is the Basquiat Before Basquiat exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibit features a slew of pieces from renowned graffiti and contemporary artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died in 1988. From Puerto Rican and Haitian descent, Basquiat is one of the few non-white artists to gain worldwide recognition, especially in the early 1980s. Running from Feb. 11 to May 7, the exhibit features photographs of the artist taken by his friend and roommate, Alexis Adler, in their small New York apartment. The show explores the context of Basquiat’s life and how his experiences and past inspired and formed his paintings, sculptures, notebooks, and street art.

At the Esquire Theatre in Denver, Raoul Peck’s documentary I Am Not Your Negro highlights James Baldwin’s notions of race in America. Baldwin was a novelist, essayist, playwright, and poet who subverted the racial beliefs of America through the English language.

Peck’s documentary received the Oscar nomination for Best Documentary before it even opened nationally. The film is not based off of any of Baldwin’s published texts, but is loosely inspired by his unfinished manuscript intended to be a personal reflection of his relationships with civil rights leaders such as Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., entitled Remember This House.

Colorado—and the city of Denver in particular—has a long and complex African American history, from the role of Buffalo Soldiers in opening the West to an African American man whom infiltrated and undermined the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado. Denver has an immense amount of resources, museums, exhibits, performances, books, authors, and events to educate its community on the powerful importance of Black History Month.

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