You can count on 2021 ushering in a vastly different year!   And ASALH will help make it so. 

It is going to be the talk of the town…ASALH’s first-ever virtual month-long Black History Month programming:  The 2021 Black History Month Festival. 

Throughout the month of February 2021, ASALH will host a festival, virtual programming in observance and celebration of the strengths, struggles, resistance—and the sheer perseverance of the Black family.  The Festival will be a series of stellar educational events that demonstrate how Black people helped shape the American landscape and were shaped by it, posited through the lens of food, religion, social justice, education, economics, and  music arts and their impact on the endurance of Black families.  

The program line-up to date is outstanding and features  the presentation of the first-ever ASALH Book Prize for stellar work leading to the publication of a book on the Black experience; a discussion with popular chefs, cookbook authors and food historians of the positioning of food from Africa in the American palate, including preparation styles, seasonings, and types of food;  conversations among renown scholars, educators and activists about the heritage of Black families, the search for and preservation of archeological artifacts from wrecked slave ships, and growing up in a single family household. These weekly programs will be punctuated with a variety of musical genres performed by students enrolled in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including a recognition of the 150th Anniversary of the Founding of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the first such group in America.  Get ready for a poignant review of bold aspirations and how the Black family has endured.

Theme: The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity

Monday, February 1, 2021
(6:00 p.m. EST)
Free Community Event–Open to Public

Announcement of the Black History Theme And
Introduction of ASALH’s Inaugural Virtual Black History Month Festival

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, ASALH National President
Music from the HBCU Experience


Saturday, February 6, 2021
Free Community Event–Open to Public
(12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST)

 From the Continent to the Americas: Foodways, Culture and Traditions in the African American Family

 A first for ASALH, this event will feature a panel of authors, chefs and historians who will share their work and discuss the important role that food has played in Black family life throughout the diaspora.  Panelists include: Gina Paige, CEO and  Co-Founder of African Ancestry, Inc. ( ); Carla Hall, author and celebrity chef;  Stephanie Evans, scholar and author, Georgia State University; and  Daphne Maxwell Reid, actor (Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and author of “Grace, Soul and Mother Wit,” will join us for this exciting event!

Sunday, February 7, 2021
Free Community Event–Open to Public
(4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST)

Manhattan Branch, Panel Discussion “How African Ameri-can Families Have Been Portrayed in the Media”


Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Free Community Event–Open to Public
(1:30 p.m. EST)

 Presentation of the Inaugural ASALH Book Prize

(More information to come)


 Saturday, February 20, 2021
(Ticketed event: $50.00, $125.00, $150.00)
(1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST)

Finding Our Roots in African American History
In Conversation with Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham

Joe Madison, Host
Acclaimed for his scholarship, his documentary films about African, Afro-Latin, and African American History, and his popular television series, “Finding Your Roots,” Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has brought fascinating African American family stories to the wider public. The 2021 Black History Month Festival is proud to feature a conversation between ASALH’s national president Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who will share his thoughts and motivations in popularizing Black History through the heritage of African American families and communities and their search for roots.  Joe Madison, popular radio talk-show personality and activist will host the program.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Free Community Event—Open to the Public
(6:30 p.m. EST) 

Diving with a Purpose
This event will feature a panel discussion featuring divers who seek to preserve the heritage of Black people through discovering and investigating wreckages of slave ships and salvaging artifacts.  Panelists include Justin Dunnavant, Leader, Society of Black Archaeologists; Alexandra Jones, Founder and CEO, Archaeology in the Community; Kamau Sadiki, Lead Instructor and Board Member, Diving With a Purpose, Ric Powell, Co-Founder and Member, Board of Directors, NABS. Mary Elliott, Curator, National Museum of African American History and Culture will serve and host and moderator.


Sunday, February 28, 2021
Free Community Event–Open to Public
(7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST)

ASALH and PBS Books
A Special Conversation between Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Sundiata Cha-Jua and Nubia Kai

ASALH and PBS Books partner in presenting the final program of the 2021 Black History Month Festival , featuring renown author Ngugi Wa Thiong’o,  author of The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi , in a conversation with Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana.  These two noted scholar-activists will explore The Perfect Ninea dazzling modern epic, myth, and feminist re-imaging of Kenya’s origins that subverts patriarchy and roots for social equity in the context of ASALH’s 2021 annual theme, The Black Family. They will discuss elements relevant to today’s struggles for social justice, gender equity, and spiritual rebirth, while illuminating eternal African values essential for wholesome family life.


 Something Special: Performances by Historically Black College and University Choirs

 In partnership with the 105 Voices of History, the Festival will feature music from the Black experience performed by choirs from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  appropriate for the subject of each Festival program.  The performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by HBCU students and choirs will also be aired during the Festival.