How to Celebrate Black History Month in LA

All the best ways to honor, celebrate, learn about, and connect with Southern California’s vibrant Black history and culture.

Black History Month in LA
Photo courtesy of Prosperity Market
Photo courtesy of Prosperity Market

February is here, and with that comes the annual month dedicated to promoting awareness and recognition of the history, culture, and contributions of Black Americans to society. In Los Angeles, Black History Month events are plentiful, offering Angelenos the opportunity to learn, connect, celebrate, and honor. Whether you’re looking for films, fine art, or musical acts, this month has it all.

February 1–28, 2023
Santa Monica is marking Black History Month with the theme "Black Resistance." The inaugural month-long event kicks off with the Brunch at City Yards event, where you can enjoy delicious meals from Black-owned food trucks including All Flavor No Grease, Compton Vegan, and OMG Icees. Work off your bites to DJ beats by DJ Ron, and instructor-led dances to crowd-pleasers like the Wobble and Electric Slide.

Throughout the month, there will be various Black History Month exhibits at Santa Monica City Hall, with poetry focused on the Black Resistance theme, and Black History Month book displays at all Santa Monica Library locations. There will also be film screenings, including The Gabby Douglas Story.

February 2, 2023
Enjoy a night celebrating Black History Month through song at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Acts offer attendees the opportunity to both laugh and heal as performers including
comedian, actress, and filmmaker Ashlei Shyne light up the stage with insightful, satirical improv sketches.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

February 3–5, 2023
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is celebrating Black History Month with a weekend-long festival highlighting the exhibition "Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898-1971.” Through workshops, film screenings, and live entertainment, you’ll be immersed in the history of Black cinema, exploring racism and prejudices that led to limited opportunities, and the perseverance that’s solidified Black artists in the mainstream system and noteworthy independent projects alike.

February 4, 2023
The Los Angeles LGBT Center will host “The Future is Black: Renaissance,” with an awards ceremony honoring the Grammy-nominated musician Big Freedia, who is largely credited for popularizing New Orleans bounce music. The night kicks off with a mixer and food trucks, and if you’re one of the first 100 attendees to arrive, you’ll get a free food voucher. All 21+ attendees will also receive two complimentary drink tickets. The program will be hosted by Tre'vell Anderson & Jarrett Hill of "FANTI" podcast, and afterwards guests can enjoy a “mini-ball” afterparty.

Black History Month LA
Castle Catering

February 5 & 12, 2023
Celebrate Black History Month by cooking up some Southern favorites with Chef Shanita Castle of Castle's Southern and Creole Catering. Castle brings her New Orleans roots to the City of Angels with Creole and French cuisine classics, along with traditional Southern food from her time spent in Atlanta. During her two classes, you’ll learn how to whip up spicy-savory meals including jambalaya, shrimp creole, and various Southern side dishes like macaroni and cheese, and candied yams.

February 9-20, 2023
The Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival, generally considered the largest Black film and arts festival in the country, is “dedicated to racial tolerance through the exhibition of film, art, and creative expression.” Events include a fashion show, comedy show, spoken word fest, a fine art festival, and special film screenings including Chevalier—inspired by the incredible true story of composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

February 12, 2023
Reserved for those who identify as a Person of Color, specifically People of African Descent, this breathwork event held at a studio in Long Beach will focus on honoring attendees’ ancestors and loved ones. “Our healing work will be set against a backdrop of beautiful, self-affirming, and sometimes political music, spanning across soul, funk, Latin, African, and other genres,” the event description explains. Following the event, you can access the playlists on Spotify to continue the work at home.

February 18, 2023
The Pasadena 41st Annual Black History Parade and Festival kicks off with a two-hour parade at Fair Oaks Avenue and Figueroa Drive, followed by an all-day festival at the Robinson Park Recreation Center, where guests will enjoy eats from local vendors, live bands, various community booths, and guest speakers. This year’s theme honors the late John J. Kennedy, who served nearly 10 years on the Pasadena City Council.

Los Angeles Black History Month Festival

Feb 19 2023
Located at the newly renovated Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Park, the Open Arms Food Pantry and Resource Center will host a synergetic day of food, giveaways, live entertainment, and more. The 6th annual event, hosted by Dr. LaShawn Witt, will include performances by saxophonist J.Boykin, a set by DJ Callywood, and a panel discussion from the Thompson Sisters, founders of DreamGirls Haircare.

February 19, 2023
Commemorating Black history in the San Fernando Valley, the Pacoima Historical Society and The Museum of the San Fernando Valley have planned a fun-filled, history-driven day for attendees. Hosted by DJ/MC Eric Stewart, the day promises a vibrant atmosphere with delicious food vendors, live music from local bands, exhibits from local artists, and more. Newly elected Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass will be in attendance as a special guest, as will USC Football legend Anthony Davis, and author and historian Crystal Jackson.

February 19, 2023
Celebrate love and Black culture with a spectacular night of entertainment and art. The fundraiser, geared toward helping the LGBTQ+ community thrive, will feature a drag show, musical artists including rappers, DJs, guitarists, singers, cellists, and flutists, insightful poetry readings, a magic show, and more.

February 22 – 25, 2023
This special summit invites the Black community to take part in workshops, a sound bath and yoga session, support groups, and docu-series screenings as a means for promoting and supporting Black mental wellness. Hosted by the Black Mental Health Task Force, the four-day event will be held at various locations across the city.

February 25 – 26, 2023
Take part in a colorful celebration of the history of African-American and African cultures at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. In its 21st year, the annual two-day festival will offer live entertainment including hip hop and breakdancers, Mardi Gras second line dancers, West African dance, and live jazz. Guests will also get to take part in a drum circle event, and listen to meaningful storytelling performances.

Photo courtesy of Prosperity Market

February 25, 2023
One of the biggest events to close out the month is the California African American Museum’s Prosperity Market pop-up. Prosperity Market will put the hard work and creations of farmers, chefs, and entrepreneurs on display. Expect fresh fruits and vegetables, handcrafted artisan goods, prepared food, and many interactive events including dancing to live music, cooking demonstrations, and wellness events like a group meditation and sound bath experience.

February 25, 2023
In this charity 5k run starting at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey, participants are encouraged to dress in all black as they walk/run in solidarity with the Black community and support Black excellence. Proceeds will benefit Kafe Ìwé, an LA-based nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating a love of reading, as well as The Watered Roots, a nonprofit organization focused on creating better educational opportunities for kids through community programming and tutoring. This year, there will be several individual contests including for fastest pace and best dressed. Allies are welcome, of course.

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Alexa Erickson is a contributor to Thrillist.