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Written by: Beth Stinnett
Wednesday January 24, 2018

February is officially Black History Month and is a special time to reflect on the accomplishments and importance of the many African American men and women who shaped the world we live in today. Their sacrifices helped change this country into the place that we all know and love. You can celebrate Black History Month in Martinsville-Henry County with special performances, exploring murals and markers and discovering local African American history at the FAHI African American Museum & Cultural Center.

FAHI African American Museum & Cultural Center was created to collect, preserve and interpret African American experiences and community life in Martinsville-Henry County. This is achieved with the use of displays and exhibits to highlight history and culture. Exhibits showcase more than 100 years of African American history on Fayette Street. The exhibits, "Walking down the street what do you see?" and "Where we were...where are we today?" show 2 miles of road along Fayette St. in which you will find black owned businesses, doctor's offices, retail stores and historic buildings.

Piedmont Arts has several events schedule to celebrate Black History Month including the African American Read-In + Art of the Story Family Day and “Civil War to Civil Rights: How African American Artists Engage the Past.”

On Saturday, February 10th Piedmont Arts will host the African American Read-In + Art of the Story Family Day. Join Piedmont Arts, Carter Bank & Trust and FAHI for a celebration of African American authors as the museum participates in the National African American Read-In. Community members will read excerpts from books, stories and poems by their favorite African American authors and storyteller Fred Motley will perform stories from around the world at 10:30 am. Enjoy a free "Make Your Own Story" craft and refreshments. All ages welcome.

On Thursday, February 15th, Piedmont Arts will present “Civil War to Civil Rights: How African American Artists Engage the Past.” Through the critical lens of the political, legal, and cultural changes that marked the transition from slavery to the Civil War to the Civil Rights period in the 1960s and 1970s, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Speaker on the Arts Evie Terrono, professor of art history at Randolph-Macon College, will examine depictions of the multifaceted and highly politicized dimensions of “race” and American identity in the artistic production of African American artists. Artists such as Elizabeth Catlett, Faith Ringgold, Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Kehinde Wiley, and Hank Willis, among many others, will be discussed. 

The New College Institute’s Building on Baldwin, so named in honor of Dr. Dana O. Baldwin also features three outdoor murals on the Market Street side of the building. The murals, called the Baldwin Block canvases, depict a streetscape view of buildings and places significant to the history of this location and the culture, including the Baldwin Pharmacy, Jobbers Pants Co., and Saint Mary’s Hospital among others.

Did you know that Martinsville-Henry County is only 40 miles away from the Booker T. Washington National Monument? After exploring all the African American History in MHC, stop by the state-certified Visitor Center to pick up an informative brochure of the facility to help you plan your trip to discover information on this inspirational man who, though born a slave, became one of the most influential, well-educated men of his time and of ours.

Remember, February may officially be Black History Month, but the essence remains throughout the year and thanks to places like the FAHI African American Museum & Cultural Center and New College Institute’s Building on Baldwin, there are special ways to reflect on the African American influences throughout our community.


Tags: Art, , History, , Piedmont Arts