Members of the public are invited to join friends and neighbors to kick off the City of Bloomington’s 2023 Black History Month celebration on January 30 at City Hall (401 N Morton Street). The event begins with a reception in the City Hall Atrium at 6 p.m., with the program beginning in Council Chambers at 7 p.m. The kick-off is free and open to the public.
The theme for the 2023 Black History Month celebration is “Black Innovation.” The month’s events will celebrate and explore Black inventors, creators, and change agents and how they’ve changed the way we live through their contributions, from the traffic light to the cell phone. Most people have heard about famous inventions like the light bulb, the cotton gin, and the ironing board but there are countless others. Often overlooked, these creators and their inventions make our daily lives easier.
The kick-off event will feature a keynote address by Ellise Smith, a doctoral student at Indiana University studying Urban Education. Ellise is from Detroit, MI, with a research focus on the experiences of bodies that identify as fat. With an interdisciplinary focus, Smith uses photography (#VisualActivism), podcasting, spoken word poetry, hip-hop culture, freestyle lyricism, and social media as a catalyst to center the narratives of fat bodies. As an emerging artist and scholar, Smith has dedicated her life to creating celebratory spaces for marginalized identities that she also holds using frameworks such as Black Feminist Thought and Critical Race Theory to ensure the work and narratives around bigger bodies are included in academia and challenging the dominant narrative around body image acceptance. The kick-off will also feature the presentation of the Visionary Leadership Award, a pop-up shop by Itia Saahir, and performances by Troy T. Thomas Jr. and Trumusiq.
Additional Black History Month events include the Black Market on February 11 at City Hall from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. In collaboration with Indiana University’s Black Graduate Student Association, this event will feature a coalition of organizations, Black-owned businesses, Black creators, and artists and provide a medium for local talent, business owners, and groups to share information and sell goods. The Black History Month "Black Market" pays homage to the original Black Market that was located in downtown Bloomington and was destroyed by a firebomb on December 26, 1968.
Young people will be honored at a February 16 ceremony for the winners of the 2023 Black History Month Essay Contest at Fairview Elementary School (500 W 7th Street, Bloomington) at 6 p.m.
Finally, the annual Black History Month Gala will be held on Saturday, February 25 at Woolery Mill (2250 W Sunstone Drive). The event will feature dining, dancing, and a recognition of the 2023 Living Legend recipients, along with the Commission on the Status of Black Males’ Outstanding Black Leaders of Tomorrow recipients. The reception and silent auction will begin at 6 p.m., with the program at 7 p.m. Tickets go on sale on January 30 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater at bctboxoffice.org or by phone at 812-323-3020.
For a full listing of Black History Month events in the community, visit bloomington.in.gov/bhm.
For additional information, contact Safe and Civil City Director Shatoyia Moss at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 812-349-3430.
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