February is Black History Month and the Tampa Bay area has a rich and diverse cultural history. Whether your personal interests lie in art, food, music or even airplanes, there is something for you and your whole family to enjoy.
Florida African American Museum
P.O. Box 47508.
Tampa, FL 33646
The Florida African American Museum has several campuses across the state, including Mims, Rosewood and Brooksville. While the Tampa campus is currently under construction, you can still experience the living history that makes up the Florida African American Museum. This museum offers year-round trips to historic places in Florida by tour bus. These trips are open to both kids and adults and cost around $200 per person.
My Black is Beautiful Pageant & Showcase
St. Petersburg City Theatre
4025 31st St. S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
Date: Feb. 10
The My Black is Beautiful Pageant & Showcase is a modern beauty pageant that celebrates the beauty of black women everywhere. The pageant is open to youth ages seven to 18 and teaches about the opportunities available to them in the theater. In addition, it showcases their talent and abilities as they compete to win the title. The pageant is part of the larger My Black is Beautiful movement that is dedicated to nurturing pride and self esteem in black women and encourages them to develop their own standard of beauty.
Florida African American Heritage Celebration
11909 125th St. N.
Largo, FL 33774
Date: Feb. 23
This Pinellas County event is completely free to the public, including free parking and shuttle rides to Heritage Village. Now in its 136th year, it was established as, and continues to be, an opportunity to collect oral history, artifacts, photographs and other documentation relevant to the preservation of black history in Pinellas County. This family friendly celebration honors African American culture through music, food, art, dance, interactive activities and history presentations. Live performances will be given by jazz musicians, gospel choirs, step teams and more.
They Dared to Fly
Fantasy of Flight
1400 Broadway Blvd. S.E.
Polk City, FL 33868
Dates: Feb. 7-9
Fantasy of Flight is more than just an aviation museum. Guests can examine some of the rarest planes in the world, ride the thrilling zip-line, take a tour and even go for a ride in a biplane. To celebrate Black History Month, some of the original Tuskegee Airmen will be present to share their true life experiences of what it was like to serve in the military in segregated America. You will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about the brave men who fought the nation’s wartime enemies while facing racism at home as only they can tell it.
Just Read, Florida!
One of the most important things you will ever do with your child is read. With the high dropout rate among African American students in Tampa Bay, the key to a better life is education, and it is never too early to commit to helping your child succeed in school. Just Read, Florida! has recommended dozens of books for children in grades Pre-K to 12. Whether your little one loves a bedtime story or you have a strong independent reader, you can find excellent books to help increase literacy skills while teaching your child about black history and culture all at the same time. Some of the recommended titles include “In Daddy’s Arms I am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers” by Alan Schroeder, “Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan” by Gregory R. Christie, “Chains” by Laurie Anderson and “Fallen Angels” by Walter Dean Myers. These highly engaging and beautiful works shouldn’t be missed.
Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.