The City will be hosting and co-hosting numerous events throughout February 2023 to commemorate Black History Month.

Events will include presentations, book club discussions, and more. All commemorations are designed to celebrate the impact Black Americans have had on our country and educate participants on the barriers Black Americans have faced and still face today.

Below are City Black History Month events. 

Teen Create-It: Black History Month

5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb 1, and Feb. 15, 2023, at the Library

The Library will host two Black History Month-themed Teen Create-It events. The first session will be making buttons and vinyl stickers. The second session will be creating Jean-Michel Basquiat-themed totes and pouches. 

All supplies will be provided and no experience is necessary. 

Family Storytime: Omari’s Big Tree and the Mighty Djembe

10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 4, 2023, at the Library

Join Iowa author Abena Sankofa Imhotep for a storytime reading of her picture book, "Omari's Big Tree and the Mighty Djembe!"

Family Storytime is recommended for all ages and includes both shorter and longer stories combined with action games and activities.

Totally Tweens: Black History Month

4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, and Feb. 23, 2023, at the Library

Tweens are invited to a monthly meet-up to discuss graphic novels. We'll be talking about a different book each month and doing activities based on them. Plus, cookies will be served!

They'll discuss "New Kid" by Jerry Craft. "New Kid" is about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real. 

Sunday Fun Day: Black History Month

1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 5, 2023, and Feb. 26, 2023, at the Library

Sunday Fun Day is a kids-friendly event that centers around making art projects. The Library will have two projects related to Black History Month: making heart mosaics in the style of Alma Thomas, and making art in the style of quilts made by the women of Gee's Bend, Alabama. 

A graphic with text: Accelerating black leadership in sustainability.

Black leadership in sustainability webinar

6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023

The City's Office of Equity and Human Rights and the Climate Action and Outreach Division will host “Accelerating Black Leadership in Sustainability”, a virtual discussion with Arthur Burton and Kamel Elgiseer, from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023.  

The two presenters will discuss Black entrepreneurship as it relates to climate action. Everyone is welcome to attend. Those interested can register via Zoom

Black History Month film: 'Descendant'

7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023

The Library will host a screening of the 2022 documentary "Descendant." The documentary follows the descendants of the survivors of the schooner Clotilda, the last known American slave ship to smuggle West African slaves into the US. These descendants, many of whom live today in Africatown, Alabama, just outside Mobile, celebrate their heritage and take command of their legacy, as the positive identification of the Clotilda provided a tangible link to their ancestors.

Virtual book discussion for 'Passing' 

7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023

The Office of Equity and Human Rights and the Iowa City Public Library are hosting a virtual book discussion, on “Passing” by Nella Larsen. The program will take place Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, from 7-8:30 p.m.

The virtual discussion will be facilitated by Abena Sankofa Imhotep, Director of Sankofa Literary and Empowerment Group of Des Moines.

The event will take place via Zoom. Participants may register for the discussion online. Meeting ID: 845 5938 3669.

The Iowa City Public Library has copies of "Passing" to support the program. The book is available in print, eBook through Hoopla, and audiobook.

Family Night: Author Visit & Sewing Project with Michelle Edwards

4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, at the Library

Local Author Michelle Edwards will be visiting ICPL to share her newest book "Me and the Boss: a Story about Mending and Love," a funny and oh-so-true portrait of a brother and sister’s relationship. All ages are welcome to attend with parents to assist with the sewing project.

Horizons: Black History Month crafting event

1 p.m. Saturday, Feb 12, 2023, at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center

This crafting event is perfect for kids at least five but younger than 12 years old. The event will feature a celebration of Black history and an activity to learn how to make a stamped African cloth. Registration for the event is available online. 

John Lewis is shown with text: Good trouble activism youth summit.
Good Trouble Youth Activism Summit

2- 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023

The Good Trouble Youth Summit invites students in grades 6-12 to to participate in a series of workshops on different types of activism. 

The summit will take place Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, from 2-5 p.m. at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center and will include workshops on Advocacy as Activism on Micro and Macro Levels. Students will be in a community with educators who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) with support from allies. This is a space cultivated to support the needs of BIPOC students while students of other backgrounds are also welcome. All youth will be in this space focused on social justice, equity, and community building.

A Soul Skate in the gym will immediately follow the summit. 

Registration for the summit can be found online.

The summit is sponsored by United Action for Youth, Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County, Black Lives Matter at School, Johnson County, LaLa Delo, Dream City, City of Iowa City, Rape Victim Advocacy Program, Iowa City Community School District, and United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties.


The Alice Randall novel "Black Bottom Saints" is shown.

'Black Bottom Saints' BYO Book ICPL bookclub 

6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023

The Office of Equity and Human Rights is co-sponsoring the February meeting of the Iowa City Public Library's "BYOBook" meeting. The novel "Black Bottom Saints" by Alice Randall will be discussed.

Described as "An enthralling literary tour-de-force that pays tribute to Detroit's legendary neighborhood, a mecca for jazz, sports, and politics, Black Bottom Saints is a powerful blend of fact and imagination reminiscent of E.L. Doctorow's classic novel Ragtime and Marlon James' Man Booker Award-winning masterpiece, A Brief History of Seven Killings" and Kirkus reviews says that it's an "impassioned, richly detailed, and sometimes heartbreaking evocation of Black culture in 20th century Detroit and beyond."

The meeting will take place via Zoom at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. Register online and the link will be sent out the day of the event. You can find print copies of the book at ICPL, and ebook and eaudio on Overdrive and the Libby app.

Book to Art Club: Art from Folk Artist Clementine Hunter

4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, from the Library

An event for preschool through second grade, Book to Art Club will read a picture book about famous folk artist Clementine Hunter called "Art From Her Heart." Then kids will be able to recreate a mixed-media painting based on one of her most famous subjects, zinnias! 

'Driving While Black': a Black History Month film

7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, 2022, at the Library

The Library will host a screening of the documentary "Driving While Black. 

The film examines the history of African Americans on the road from the depths of the Depression to the height of the Civil Rights movement and beyond, exploring along the way the deeply embedded dynamics of race, space, and mobility in America during one of the most turbulent and transformative periods in American history.

Explore the Underground Railroad

3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023, at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center

Learn more about the history of the underground railroad and join our community to create freedom quilts (paper and fabric options). The night will also include a showing of the movie "Harriet". Light refreshments are available. This is a family-friendly event with no fee.

Test your Black History Month knowledge and win a book

Test your knowledge with a Black History Month Quiz here. The first 25 participants to earn a perfect score will receive a copy of one of the following books:

  • "High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America" by Jessica B. Harris
  • "How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America" by Clint Smith
  • "Black Bottom Saints" By Alice Randall

You will be contacted if you earned a perfect score, are one of the first 25 winners, and are an Iowa City community member.

Date of publication

Monday, January 30, 2023