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From art to music to comedy: Something for everyone on offer across Black History Month in Windsor-Essex

One of the murals to honour the legacy of several residents of the McDougall Street Corridor, a historically Black neighbourhood in Windsor., pictured in a 2023 file photo.  (Nav Nanwa/CBC News - image credit)
One of the murals to honour the legacy of several residents of the McDougall Street Corridor, a historically Black neighbourhood in Windsor., pictured in a 2023 file photo. (Nav Nanwa/CBC News - image credit)

Whether you're into local history, art, music or comedy, this year's Black History Month celebrations in Windsor-Essex offer something for everyone interested in learning.

The celebrations officially kicked off Friday night with an event at the Caribbean Centre of Windsor, a joint partnership between the Essex County Black Historical Research Society, Amherstburg Freedom Museum and Windsor West Indian Association.

"We've been doing this with various partners since 2014 every year and it's just a wonderful opportunity for the whole community to gather and share in some excitement about Black History Month," said Irene Moore Davis, president of the research society.

Moore Davis says people don't have to wait until February to start taking in events across the county: On Monday night, the Across the River to Freedom project will kick off composed of a collection of short documentaries, curriculum resources and a Sandwich Black history walking tour.

AfroFest will get underway at the University of Windsor next week, and there will also be a flag raising on campus Feb. 1.

Two events, to start and finish the month, will focus on the life of Dr. Howard McCurdy, while a panel discussion at Art Windsor-Essex on Feb 15 will examine the Thornton and Lucie Blackburn case of 1833 linked to new art by Charmaine Lurch acquired by the gallery.

Irene Moore Davis stands in front of the mural of Ada Kelly Whitney featured in the McDougall Street Corridor.
Irene Moore Davis stands in front of the mural of Ada Kelly Whitney featured in the McDougall Street Corridor.

Irene Moore Davis stands in front of the mural of Ada Kelly Whitney featured in the McDougall Street Corridor. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

The River Book Shop is also offering several events throughout the month in partnership with the Amherstburg Freedom Museum. There's even a stand-up comedy show with a Black History Month theme happening at Club 9 on Feb. 24.

"It's really exciting to see the number of organizations and institutions that get involved in celebrating Black Heritage Month or Black History Month," Moore Davis said.

"That includes organizations that don't necessarily specialize in Black history or culture, but that are doing their part, like the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and the Windsor Public Library. We're so happy to see the events that they're doing.

"Whatever you're interested in, there's something going on related to Black History Month."

But if it's been a while since you've taken in a Black History month event, Moore says this month is your chance to learn more about Windsor-Essex history.

"This is such a wonderful opportunity for people to learn about Black history. Not just North American Black history or Black Canadian history or African American history, but a lot of the really special things that happen in our community," she said.

"Incredible, rich Black history happened right where we're living, and this is just a great month to put a focus on that. So if you haven't had an opportunity to visit one of the museums or to attend a Black history event in the recent past, I recommend that you ... make use of this special opportunity to learn so much more about this place where we all live."

A complete schedule of events can be found online at Amherstburgfreedom.org.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)