Wilmington, NC - Wilmington is among the most historically significant African-American regions in the United States. African-American ancestry is traced back to the 1700’s, and although much important history left no visible landmark, several historical sites still exist, such as the Bellamy Mansion and Thalian Hall. In 2013, the City of Wilmington, in partnership with Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design Arts, published an African American Heritage Guidethat includes these and other religious, educational, social and cultural sites. The guide’s 37 entries include the City’s 1898 Memorial, churches, cemeteries, and historical markers such as the U.S. Colored Troops highway marker at the Wilmington National Cemetery and Orange Street Landing at Cape Fear (a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site). Free copies of the 34-page Wilmington African American Heritage Guide is available online at www.wilmingtonnc.gov/home/showdocument?id=16. During the month of February, several events celebrate Black History Month. Other events that commemorate African-American heritage take place throughout the year.
Here’s a sampling of events during February, which is nationally designated as Black History Month:
FEBRUARY 1-16: “BREAKING THE BARRIERS” EXHIBIT. Cape Fear Community College and One Love Tennis will host a special exhibit on loan from the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “Breaking the Barriers” highlights the impact and achievements of African Americans in the sport of tennis. The exhibit features photos, news accounts and historical pieces that highlight trailblazers in the fight for racial equality in tennis, including Althea Gibson, who called Wilmington home and broke the color barrier by entering the U.S. National Championships in 1950. Free. CFCC Union Station Lobby, 502 N. Front Street, Wilmington. www.cfcc.edu
FEBRUARY 9: CAMILLE BROWN & DANCERS: MR. TOL E. RANCE. Inspired by Mel Watkins’ book, “On The Real Side: From Slavery to Chris Rock”, Spike Lee’s controversial movie, “Bamboozled”, and Dave Chappelle’s “dancing vs. shuffling” analogy, this evening-length dance theater work celebrates African-American humor, examines “the mask” of survival and the “double consciousness” (W.E.B. DuBois) of the black performer throughout history and the stereotypical roles dominating current popular Black culture. 7:30pm. Tickets required. UNCW Kenan Auditorium, 601 S. College Rd, Wilmington. 910-962-3500; http://uncw.edu/presents/camille_brown.html
FEBRUARY 15: “ALTHEA” FILM SCREENING. 6pm. “Althea” is a documentary about Althea Gibson, an African American with Wilmington ties who broke the color barrier by entering the U.S. National Championships in 1950. This special screening will be followed by a Q&A session with Lenny Simpson, Executive Director of One Love Tennis and a local Black tennis pioneer. Free admission. Union Auditorium (Room 170), CFCC’s Union Station, 502 N. Front Street, Wilmington. www.cfcc.edu
ONGOING: UPPERMAN AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER. Africana Lecture & Film Studies, Art Exhibits, Signature Programs, Special Events, etc. Throughout the month February and beyond, UNCW’s Upperman Center hosts film screenings, art exhibits, special events and collaborations to facilitate a wide variety of discussions on the black experience of the past and the current 21st Century. Most events are free to attend although some require tickets/pre-registration. Check website for detailed schedule. Upperman Center, Fisher Student Union, UNCW Campus, 601 S. College Rd, Wilmington. 910-962-2480; http://uncw.edu/upperman/events.html
ONGOING: BELLAMY MANSION MUSEUM OF HISTORY & DESIGN ARTS. Designed with Greek Revival and Italianate styling, this 22-room house was constructed with the labor of both enslaved skilled carpenters, and local, freed black artisans. On the northeast corner of the lot stands the original brick slave quarters, which has been recently restored and is among the most well-preserved urban slave quarters in the country. Admission charged. Bellamy Mansion, Wilmington. 910-251-3700; www.bellamymansion.org
ONGOING: CAPE FEAR MUSEUM OF HISTORY & SCIENCE. Reflections in Black & White features a selection of informal black and white photographs taken by black and white Wilmingtonians after World War II before the Civil Rights movement helped end legalized segregation. Visitors will have a chance to compare black and white experiences and reflect on what people’s lives were like in the region during the latter part of the Jim Crow era. Admission charged. Cape Fear Museum of History & Science, Wilmington. 910-798-4350; www.capefearmuseum.com
ONGOING: CAPE FEAR MUSEUM OF HISTORY & SCIENCE. Williston Auditorium. Education in Wilmington has a long, rich tradition, and the name “Williston” has been associated with schooling here since the 1860s. What began as an American Missionary Association school became — between 1923 and the day it closed its doors in 1968 — the only high school for African Americans in New Hanover County. The memory of Williston lives on through the work of a very active alumni association. Through the Williston High School Alumni Association’s generosity, the Museum’s auditorium is named to honor the school that so successfully served the African-American community. Admission charged. Cape Fear Museum of History & Science, Wilmington. 910-798-4350; www.capefearmuseum.com
COMING IN FALL 2017:
SEPTEMBER 2017: N.C. BLACK FILM FESTIVAL. Dates/venue TBA. Wilmington. www.blackartsalliance.org
NOVEMBER 2017: CAPE FEAR MUSEUM OF HISTORY & SCIENCE. CHANGING AMERICA. Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963 will help public audiences understand and discuss the relationship between two great peoples’ movements that resulted in the Emancipation Proclamation, and the March on Washington in 1963. One hundred years separate the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington, yet these two events are profoundly linked together in a larger story of liberty and the American experience. Both events were the results of people demanding justice. Both grew out of decades of bold actions, resistance, organization, and vision. Admission charged. Cape Fear Museum of History & Science, Wilmington. 910-798-4350; www.capefearmuseum.com
Wilmington, N.C.’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach offers one destination with four unique settings. This year-round coastal destination is a convenient drive from Raleigh via I-40 and Charlotte via US 74. Prefer to fly? The Wilmington International Airport (ILM) offers daily flights to major airline hubs. For a complete event calendar, visit www.WilmingtonAndBeaches.com/events-calendar. Events often change without notice; please confirm details directly with event organizers. To request a free Official Visitors Guide call 1-866-266-9690 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.