For many entities in the community, Black History Month is just 28 days to get through and then it’s back on the list of forgotten things until next year.
But at Urban League of Greater Madison, Black History Month is both year-round and celebrated properly and proudly through a series of community events and gatherings.
Every Wednesday evening during February, the Urban League is hosting free community events to celebrate not just black history but the black community as a whole right now.
Last week, the Urban League hosted an event called “Black Voices” to kick off the series. Several members of the community came and recited black poetry from authors like Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou.
“We had some kids come from the Kennedy Community Center and Blackhawk Middle School,” says organizer Michelle Bozeman. “I had a couple of the kids get up and recite some poems. They were some brave middle school kids. We had about 45 people there.”
Last night, Urban League partnered with Wisconsin Public Television for a showing of “I Am Not Your Negro,” a landmark documentary detailing the work of James Baldwin. The showing was held at the Urban League and was catered by Kipp’s Kitchen.
There was a brief discussion after the showing about what people’s takeaways from the documentary were.
Next week’s Black History Month Wednesday will be dedicated to black musicians. Each day, Bozeman will do a biography of a different black musician.
At the end of the month, Bozeman says the Urban League will host a Community Soul Food Dinner.
“It’s going to be soul food, music and good company,” Bozeman says. “There’ll be a raffle. It will be a Sunday Soul Food dinner on a Wednesday night.”
Several area black restaurants will be catering for the event. Bozeman says she will be doing a lot of cooking for the event herself and will have several other members of the community pitching in with large dishes as well. Hopefully, turnout will be high and there will be enough food.
Bozeman says these community events are important because, especially around Madison, black history month can feel, well, limited.
“Well, personally, I feel that Black History Month is not being represented enough here,” Bozeman told Madison365. “There’s a whole lot more to black history than just Martin Luther King Jr. and I would like to point out he’s not the only person in black history. The schools don’t celebrate enough. They don’t do enough. This is my fourth year doing this in the community and it’s making a difference. It’s like a little celebration. Every day I have posted a black pioneer on the Urban League website. We need a little awareness and knowledge. It’s not just 28 days a year and then we throw black history under the bus again.”
Bozeman says each event is free and open to all. She is already looking forward to next Wednesday’s event which will be held at the Urban League of Greater Madison, 2222 S. Park Street.