Black History Month Events in the West

See how black lives how shaped music, history, film, and so much more.

a picture of a man dancing for the crowd during the Black Joy Parade in Oakland, California.
Positivity and community are the focus of the Black Joy Parade in Oakland, California. 
Courtesy Black Joy Parade

Black History Month, formally known as African American History Month, began as a week-long event in February 1926 to honor the profound role African Americans have played in shaping life in the U.S. and beyond. Since then, a week has evolved into a month of celebrations, but the significance—and necessity—of this annual event remains. Honor black history and learn how the contributions of African Americans have dramatically shaped our national culture at one of these happenings throughout the West.

All Your Favorite Music is (Probably) Black, San Francisco

Head to the Museum of African Diaspora in San Francisco for an evening of learning and entertainment that reveals how Western music has been defined by African Americans.

Details: MoAD, February 20, 6:30–8:00 p.m.;

NAACP: Past, Present, and Future, Oakland

Learn all about what the country’s oldest civil rights organization has achieved during its 110-year history during this free panel discussion put on by the Oakland Public Library. 

Details: African American Museum & Library,  February 2, 3–5 p.m.;

Black Joy Parade, Oakland

As its name implies, the family-friendly Black Joy Parade is all about positivity and community. Watch the parade and keep the celebration going at the post-parade festival.

Details: Starting at 14th and Harrison Streets, February 24, 12:30 p.m.;

Pan African Film & Arts Festival, Los Angeles

From film screenings to speaker panels and workshops, PAFF showcases a range of creative pursuits to highlight positive images and works by people of African descent.

Details: various locations, February 7–18;

Black History Month Celebration, Sacramento

This annual event features fun for the whole family with art activities and live performances. There’s also a marketplace to pick up handcrafted wares by black artisans.

Details: Crocker Art Museum, February 17, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Black History Festival NW, Portland

With stage performances, youth events, a music act by Smokey Robinson, and an evening with Michelle Obama discussing her new book, Becoming, Portland’s Black History Festival NW offers a way for everyone to celebrate.

Details: various locations, February 1–March 1;

PDX Jazz Festival

The 2019 Biamp PDX Jazz Festival celebrates Black History Month with dozens of acts by acclaimed contemporary musicians, including a remembrance of Nat King Cole by his brother, singer and pianist Freddy Cole.

Details: various locations, February 20–March 3.

Through the Eyes of Art, Seattle

MoPOP's annual Black History Month event will focus on different experiences throughout the African diaspora and will include access to the MARVEL: Universe of Super Heroes exhibition as well as Wild Blue Angel: Hendrix Abroad, 1966-1970.

Details: Museum of Popular Culture, February 1, 7 p.m.–11 p.m.;

This article was originally published in February 2019.