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7 ways you can celebrate Black History Month in Austin
(Larry D. Moore, CC)

Victory Grill is a long-time Black establishment that has made its mark on the city.

February is Black History Month and in Austin, Black history is everywhere. From Austin's iconic East Side to Black historical monuments. Though normal celebrations are still not as prevalent due to COVID-19, here are a few ways you can celebrate Black History Month and make a difference in the community.

Visit a Black art exhibit

While there are countless Black art exhibits you could choose, consider visiting Deborah Roberts: I'm, a collage exhibit that deals with growing up and forming your identity as a Black child in America. In her work, Roberts, who is a lifelong Austin native, combines a range of tones, textures, hairstyles, features and clothes in the hopes of creating a "more expansive and inclusive view" of Black culture. I'm is on display at The Contemporary Austin Jones Center.

At the Blanton Museum, visit Diedrick Brackens's Darling Divined, an exhibit that combines intricate woven tapestries with the complexities of having a Black and queer identity. His work features weaving techniques, fabric choices, colors and symbols that were all chosen deliberately to interlace diversity and tradition.

Peruse the George Washington Carver Museum

Celebrating scientist, artist and intellectual Dr. George Washington Carver, the Carver Complex is made up of the George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center and the Carver Library. In its original location, it housed the very first library in Austin. After the building was moved to its current location on 1165 Angelina St., it was renamed in honor of Dr. Carver, who brought pride to the community. Now, the museum features four exhibits and is always free of charge.

Walk along Six Square

Texas' first and only recognized Black cultural district lives here in Austin, named for the six square miles that used to make up the "negro district." Now a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of East Austin's Black culture, Six Square is bordered by Manor Road, 7th Street, Airport Blvd and I-35. More than 80% of Austin's Black population lived within those six miles by 1930, where communities were built, churches erected and Black businesses flourished. Six Square is home to the Carver District, Huston-Tillotson University and Victory Grill, which is still slinging comfort food.

Support some of Austin's many Black-owned restaurants...

Speaking of Victory Grill, whose motto is "nourishing the soul since 1945," the restaurant and music venue is older than most Austinites. Victory Grill's threshold has been graced by big names during its time on the Chitlin' Circuit: Billie Holiday, James Brown and B.B. King all performed there during its heyday.

And beyond Victory Grill, there's so much more. Spice up your routine by grabbing some Ethiopian food at Aster's Ethiopian, a decadent breakfast sandwich from Bird Bird Biscuit, or for the vegetarian, head to Sassy's Vegetarian Soul for soul food like you've never had it before.

...and Black-owned businesses

If you can buy it, you can almost always buy it from a Black-owned business. The Black Makers Market features an array of Black artists and businesses all in one place. The market is virtual for now, so browse the Black Makers Market Instagram page for where you can shop. And if you're looking for other businesses to support, shop skincare from Divine Luxury, get your reads from Black Pearl Books, shop sustainably from Treasure City Thrift and even get aesthetically-pleasing baby toys from Austin Nature Works.

Attend ASALH's Black History Month virtual festival

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History's festival will feature a month's worth of virtual content centered around its theme, The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. The festival features plenty of free events centered around the Black experience with guest speakers and chances to connect. The headline event will center around finding roots in African American history with speakers Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham.

Learn about Black history by attending the Texas State Park Rangers virtual series

This month, the Texas state park rangers, in conjunction with the Buffalo Soldier Heritage Outreach Program, will debut another virtual Black History Month series, unfolding Black history in the great outdoors and as it pertains to conservation. The program aims to put Black voices in a space where they haven't been heard in the past, with programming that tells the story of Bessie Coleman, Black soldiers after the Civil War and Black firefighters.

There are countless ways to celebrate Black history in Austin so if you are able this February, take the time to recognize the achievements of the Black community in our city.


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