Every February, Americans of all races and backgrounds celebrate Black History Month by commemorating iconic civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Black History Month’s founder, Carter G. Woodson. An early African American history scholar, Woodson created the first “Negro History Week” in 1926, intending to spark a revolution in academia by including African American studies in the curriculum. Join in on celebrating, honoring and acknowleging Black history in Portland and beyond at these local events:
PDX Jazz Festival
Jumptown, Portland’s raucous jazz scene of the 1940s, is sadly lost, but every year around February and March, visitors can dive into today’s sea of jazz greats at the PDX Jazz Festival. The festival honors special jazz aniversaries and legends, along with feature performances by legendary artists like Grammy award-winning bass extraordinaire Stanley Clarke. PDX Jazz Fest performances — including many free shows — are held at multiple venues across the city every year.
Cascade Festival of African Films
Billed as the longest-running nonprofit African film festival in America, Portland’s free Cascade Festival of African Films has celebrated African achievements and hopes for the future since 1991. Through its roster of films, the month-long festival aims to share stories of Africa as told by actual Africans, rather than the Western-made narratives that Americans typically see. Hosted by the Hollywood Theatre and Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus, the festival also includes staged theatrical readings, talkbacks with the films’ creators, an African marketplace and a social hour with food and live music every Saturday.
The Portland Black Film Festival
Curated by Portland filmmaker David F. Walker, the Portland Black Film Festival takes up residency at the Hollywood Theatre for one weekend every February, presenting a handful of events that showcase the cinematic achievements of African-American actors and directors. In addition to a Q&A with Emmy Award- and NAACP Image Award-winning film, television, and stage veteran Joe Morton, the festival features movies ranging from 1980’s African American sci-fi (Brother From Another Planet) to rare, controversial films (The Spook Who Sat By The Door), and a selection of short films produced by local black filmmakers.