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Black History Month in Minneapolis: Where it began

Black History Month is in full swing with public events and a new resolution.
Image by Shalom Berhane
Visitors at the City of Minneapolis Public Service building on February 14, 2024.

The City of Minneapolis is hosting Black History Month 2024 events in partnership with the Minneapolis Black Employee Network (MBEN) and Hennepin County. 

There are five events this month, ranging from music to creating a belonging space to the history of Black hair and leaders. 

Gary Hines and Andre Cymone, two musicians prominent in the Minneapolis Sound, led the discussion at the first event. The second event discussed what it meant to have a sense of belonging with two hip-hop artists, Nakara Forjé and Lewiee Blaze. 

The theme of this year’s events, following the national theme, is African Americans and the Arts. 

Planning committee member Fatimat Olukoga said each week in February had its own committee to help come up with a topic and events for the week.

“We start as a large group and just kind of throw ideas out there,” Olukoga said. “We usually will set different committees up for each week and assign a leader and then they’re tasked with finding a topic for their week.”

Upcoming events include Family Feud: Black History Month Trivia on Feb. 21, History Makers at Home on Feb. 22 and Rock Your Crown, rescheduled from last year after its cancellation due to a snowstorm, on Feb. 28. 

The two events that have already happened this month are Black Music and the Arts – The Minneapolis Sound and Black and Belonging. 

Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis City Council released a resolution Jan. 25 honoring Black History Month. The ending of the resolution commemorates achievements and contributions Black Americans made in the development of the U.S. and the region and the anniversary of MBEN. 

Former council member Natalie Johnson-Lee first brought the idea of a Black History Month resolution forward. Councilmember Andrea Jenkins (Ward 8) worked as a policy aide for Johnson-Lee during the creation of the first resolution in 2002. 

There is a Black History Month resolution every year, Jenkins said. While the topics change, the intent to highlight Black history does not.

Jordan Hook, a Black History Month committee planning member for the Black Music and the Arts event, said Black History Month is a celebration of Black culture and history. 

“It’s just like a celebration of our culture and everything that it’s brought to this country,” Hook said. “Kind of encouragement to be ourselves, to be proud, to recognize our history.” 

Olukoga said everyone should attend the events to learn more about Black culture. 

“It’s also a great moment for education, for people who are not of the culture to learn a little bit of our history,” Olukoga said.

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