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Black History Month Virtual Events

February 1 – 28, 2021

Virtual Events | GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

Celebrate Black History Month with the Grand Rapids Public Library! Join us online February 1 – 28, 2021  for programs for both kids and adults that highlight and celebrate our Black community.

Special thanks to the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation for their support of these programs.

Programs can be enjoyed after their premiere date on GRPL’s YouTube Channel.

​African American Architects with Isaac V. Norris, AIA, NOMA, LEED-AP

Part 1 – Premiering Tuesday, February 2, 2021, 6:00 pm
Part 2 – Premiering Tuesday, February 9, 2021, 6:00 pm *Due to unforeseen circumstances, this program has been canceled.
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

Join us for a two-part lecture on the history of African American architects in the United States. African Americans have contributed to the American landscape of architecture despite many educational and inclusion disparities. One of Grand Rapids’ own preeminent architects, Isaac Norris, will walk us through their storied history.

Isaac V. Norris has more than 20 years of experience in architecture and design. He earned his B.A. in Architecture and Masters of Architecture from the University of Detroit/Mercy. Isaac enjoys the design process, assisting clients with the development of building ideas that are creative, functionally efficient, and economically sound. Since starting his firm in 1993, Isaac has been active in local professional and community affairs, including board service with The Grand Rapids Symphony, the Boys and Girls Club, and The Plummer, Letts, Parks Leadership Fund. Isaac continues his community service as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Community Spotlight: Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB)

Premiering Wednesday, February 3, 2021, 12:00 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

In this lunchtime mini-series, learn more about local Black-owned businesses and initiatives.

This week, hear about Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB) which was founded in 2012 to create awareness and bring visibility to the Black business community. By 2013, it launched as an economic and business development entity to advance economic equity in Grand Rapids. GRABB has been working for the last 8 years empowering the Black business community that is leading to meaningful and beneficial economic growth and sustainability.

Music (NOT) in the Stacks: Edye Evans Hyde

Premiering Thursday, February 4, 2021, 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

2011 West Michigan Jazz Society Musician of the Year, Edye Evans Hyde has been singing jazz, blues and pop music for over 30 years in West Michigan, Los Angeles, Asia and Europe. Edye has shared the stage with world-renowned blues singer Linda Hopkins, pop singer Michael Bolton, vocalist Maria Muldaur, actress Connie Stevens, the late Ray Charles, and Cuban trumpet player Arturo Sandoval.

Black History Month Storytimes

Premiering Saturdays, February 6, 13, 20, 27, 2021, 10:00 am
Available until June 30, 2021.
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

Join GRPL for this virtual series of storytimes! Enjoy books featuring Black characters or that are by Black authors. Participate in sing-alongs, and early literacy tips from a GRPL librarian. Tune in weekly on GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel during the month of February.

Community Spotlight: A City Within A City Film with Victor Williams

Premiering Wednesday, February 10, 2021, 12:00 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

In this lunchtime mini-series, learn more about local Black-owned businesses and initiatives.

This week, hear about how the Grand Rapids Media Initiative & Film Incubator with Grand Stand Pictures and affiliated community partners will soon begin production of a full length documentary film. The film will reveal how the dignity and humanity of the Black community in Grand Rapids persists in overcoming the insidiousness of #ManagerialRacism as defined by author Todd Robinson, in his book A City Within A City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids.

Todd Robinson Author, Executive Producer
Todd E. Robinson is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He received a dual B.A. in History and American Studies from American University, MM from Cambridge College, M.A. from the University of Massachusetts, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan. He offers undergraduate and graduate courses in African American History, urban and suburban history, race and sports, and social movements.

Victor Williams, Producer
Born and bred in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Victor Williams is a native son who has been around the world and back. A natural creative, he found his way early in the music business and established himself as a pioneer in the Michigan HipHop community. He founded The Grand Rapids HipHop Coalition, an organization designed to support and advise budding local artists, and The Love Movement Inc, a HipHop Non-Profit that focuses on youth education through HipHop arts and culture. Passionate about his city, Victor has demonstrated his leadership skills in many successful arenas from politics to civic engagement. In 2019, Victor started and heads the Boston Square Neighborhood Association.

Music (NOT) in the Stacks: Tom Cutts

Premiering Thursday, February 11, 2021, 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

Tom Cutts is a gifted guitarist, songwriter and singer. His musical styling blends gospel, jazz, blues, R&B and rock. His concerts bring refreshing covers of many musical standards and include original music penned in multiple genres. Tom has shared the stage with many notable artists such as: Jessica Reedy, Tasha Page Lockhart, Marvin Sapp, Al Green, Angela Christie, Shirley Caesar, Andre Crouch, James Cleveland, and others. He has performed with the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Bobby Jones Gospel Show, Singsations Gospel show and various television, radio, and showcases across the USA. He has played many genres in various music festivals, churches and venues throughout West Michigan.

Ebony Road Players Present ‘Anne and Emmett’

Premiering Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 6:00 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

GRPL presents a virtual presentation of “Anne and Emmett.” In this imaginative stage play, Anne Frank and Emmett Till meet in a place called “Memory” to share accounts of their lives and deaths. The story, about Till, an African American boy, and Anne Frank, a German-Dutch Jewish girl, compares and contrasts how the racial injustices experienced on both ends were more similar than many people want to accept. It holds a mirror to all of us, showing that we are more alike than different and how important understanding and love will be in the healing of our world.

Ebony Road Players is a Grand Rapids theater company whose mission is to inspire, educate and engage cultures of our community with high-quality theater productions focused on the Black experience.

Community Spotlight: We Are Lit GR with Kendra McNeil

Premiering Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 12:00 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

In this lunchtime mini-series, learn more about local Black-owned businesses and initiatives.

This week discover We Are LIT, an independent, multicultural bookshop based in Grand Rapids, selling new, diverse books across all genres. Its inventory is hand selected to connect readers of all ages to their interests through thoughtfully curated books. Curating multicultural books for young readers is their jam! They believe that the passion for reading is ignited when a child can see themselves through the characters of fun, vibrant stories!

McNeil is founder, curator, and owner of We Are LIT. Her work focuses on creating a culture around books and developing programs around long-term, community-based literacy initiatives. McNeil is Chief Operating Officer of The Black Book Exchange Box, a nonprofit organization and book exchange system dedicated to representation of Black people and culture.

Music (NOT) in the Stacks: Karisa Wilson

Premiering Thursday, February 18, 2021, 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

Karisa Wilson is an award winning singer-songwriter from Michigan. Her debut album “Little Girl” won the WYCE’s Album of the Year Jammie, one of Michigan’s most prestigious indie music awards. Karisa writes and performs a blend of indie folk, jazz and blues. She is also a classically trained violinist. 

Taste of Soul Sunday

Premiering Sunday, February 21, 2021, 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

We’re taking our popular Taste of Soul Sunday event online! Enjoy a series of virtual events and enjoy  our Taste of Soul Sunday Restaurant Showcase.

A Moment with Shannon Cohen & Family​
1:00 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

Join GRPL for an intimate talk with Shannon Cohen 7 family on life, resilience, and surviving a pandemic.

Every difference maker has two sides. There’s the tough outer shell; the leader seen and experienced from the outside. Then there’s the softer inside; a real human who takes on the world one day and second-guesses every decision the next. Shannon’s sparkling reputation is built on speaking into both sides—and connecting both in a powerful, purpose-driven way. Shannon’s work has taken her to serve the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy as well as systems and organizations across the Midwest. She is a decorated difference-maker with a passion for seeing leaders thrive in every aspect of their lives.

Serita’s Black Rose​
1:30 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

A self-professed “Funkateer”, Serita Crowley of Serita’s Black Rose from Grand Rapids, Michigan brings a raucous mix of FUNK, ROCK, BLUES, NEO-SOUL, and AMERICANA. Serita, along with her partner Jon Hayes are at its core, performing together for nearly two decades. As an acoustic duo, or a full band, they play much of the timeless “feel good music” from the 60s and 70s that everyone can enjoy. Her fiery, blues- and soul-infused vocals will shake the ground beneath your feet. Serita picks her music like she cooks her food, -it has to be to her taste, and it tastes good! Take a big bite, and it will fuel your soul.

Community Spotlight: Luxe Artisan Preserves with Kimberly Slaikeu, PhD

Premiering Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 12:00 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

In this lunchtime mini-series, learn more about local Black-owned businesses and initiatives.

This week discover Luxe Artisan Preserves, who  offer a collection of small-batch, hand-crafted preserves infused with herbs and alcohol. They are committed to pushing the boundaries of flavor so that you can add luxury to your most special life moments.

Kimberly Marie is the Owner/Founder of Luxe Artisan Preserves. A self-described Child of God, mommy, Doctor, sibling, trusted friend, and auntie. Kimberly Marie is also a published author, certified life coach, former University Professor and award-winning nurse executive and clinician. Throughout her  life, Kimberly Marie has always been a bit of a rebel going against “standards” set for women and, more specifically, Black women. The rebel in Kimberly Marie often shows up in the kitchen through the stories that she  allows each flavor profile to tell.

A City Within A City: Community Conversations

Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 6:30 pm
Virtual Event | Zoom
Please click the following link or paste the url in your web browser to enjoy this event:

Have you read the book? Did you live it? Share your experience!
Grand Stand Pictures will soon begin production of a full length documentary film inspired by the book, A City Within A City by Dr. Todd Robinson. The film explores the effects of managerial racism on the Black community in the city of Grand Rapids.

In a live community conversation featuring Dr. Todd Robinson, Dr. Randal Jelks and T.A. El Amin, learn more about the full length documentary project and share your input and experience. Join us as we share stories and delve into the history and impact of structural racism on our city. 

This event is presented by the Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Stand Pictures, and BPGR.

Music (NOT) in the Stacks: Jordan Hamilton

Premiering Thursday, February 25, 2021, 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Virtual Event |GRPL’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

Jordan Hamilton, cellist of Last Gasp Collective and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, merges songwriting, loop pedals, sample machines, and vocals to create a sonic landscape of experimental hip-hop, folk, soul, and classical music. The Western Michigan University graduate aims to find new ways for the cello, a traditional instrument, to relate to a modern audience where it can be found playing the music of Bach, the Beatles, or Chance the Rapper.