Pasadena Celebrates Black History Month

Posted By on Feb 19, 2021 |

Press release from the City of Pasadena:

January 26, 2021

PASADENA, Calif.—The City of Pasadena is celebrating Black History Month by recognizing the achievements and contributions of Black Americans and their central role in our nation’s history with virtual programs, events, and activities for all ages. Pasadena Public Library; the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department; and the Pasadena Black History Committee are offering a month-long series of programs in February. Library programming is sponsored by The Friends of the Pasadena Public Library. The Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department and Pasadena Black History Committee are holding events in lieu of Pasadena’s 39th Annual Black History Month Parade and Festival.


  • Reading Activity – Black History Month Reading Challenge
    Pasadena Public Library highlights Black history and Black creators this month with a special Black History Month challenge. This just-for-fun, month-long reading challenge starts Feb. 1. Participate by logging your reading, posting reviews, and attending some of our virtual programs! Sign up now.
  • Community Activity – Support Black Owned Businesses | Monday, Feb. 1-28 • Throughout Pasadena
    Everyone is encouraged to support local Black-owned businesses. View a list of businesses.
  • Family Activity – African and African American Tales with Storyteller Michael D. McCarty | Thursday, Feb. 11, 4 p.m. • Zoom
    Storyteller Michael D. McCarty entertains and educates with tales from Africa and of African Americans that depict the challenges and triumphs of Black people throughout history. Perfect for families! Sign up now.
  • History Activity – Pasadena People, Places and Events Shaped by African Americans | Monday, Feb. 15-Friday, Feb. 19
    Take a virtual tour with local community members as they provide information on landmarks, educational institutions, sports, business and other areas impacted by Black Pasadenans. Visit for more information and to sign up.
  • Music Activity – Jungle Drum Circle with Chazz Ross | Monday, Feb. 22, 2 p.m. • Zoom
    Celebrate Black History Month with Chazz Ross’s Jungle Drum-Circle performance. Enjoy an amazing percussion show with African Djembe drums and learn about their history. Drawing on 40 years of experience in African music and dance, Chazz delivers an exciting performance for all ages. Sign up now.
  • Music Activity – Celebrity DJ Dance Party | Saturday, Feb. 27, 5-10 p.m. • Facebook & Instagram
    Playing sounds from the 1960s through the 2000s virtually. Livestream available on Facebook and Instagram. Visit for more information and to sign up.


  • Adult Activity – Storytime for Grownups | Mondays, 4 p.m. • Instagram Live
    Find a comfy chair and settle in on Instagram Live @pasadenalibrary as we read aloud from classic works by African American authors. Get lit(erature)!
  • Book Discussion – Hastings Branch Book Chit Chat: “The Vanishing Half” | Tuesday, Feb. 2, 6:30 p.m. • Zoom
    Join us as we discuss “The Vanishing Half” by author Brit Bennet. Sign up now.
  • Booktalk – African American Mystery and Crime Writers | Wednesday, Feb. 3, 4 p.m. • Zoom
    African American authors Rachel Howzell Hall (“And Now She’s Gone”), Pamela Samuels Young (“Murder on the Down Low”), and Gary Phillips (“Warlord of Willow Ridge”) will share their writing journeys. Sign up now.
  • Book Discussion – Allendale Book Discussion: “Invisible Man” | Thursday, Feb. 4, 10:30 a.m. • Zoom
    We will be meeting online to discuss “Invisible Man” by author Ralph Ellison. Sign up now.
  • Book Discussion – Virtual Hill Avenue Book Club: “Lakewood” | Saturday, Feb. 6, 10:30 a.m. • Zoom
    Join us online as we discuss “Lakewood” by Megan Giddings. Copies are available through hoopla using your Pasadena Public Library card. Sign up now.
  • Adult Activity – African American Poetry | Tuesday, Feb. 9, 11 a.m. • Zoom
    The Pasadena Rose Poets will present the poetry of African American poets past and present, along with some of their own poetry. Presented by Teresa Mei Chuc, Kate Gale, Hazel Clayton Harrison, Gerda Govine Ituarte, Shahé Mankerian, Toni Mosley, Carla Sameth and Annette Wong. Sign up now.
  • Lecture – Fatphobia as Anti-Blackness: The Origins of Weight Stigma | Wednesday, Feb. 10, 5 p.m. • Zoom
    The medical establishment tells us that we are in an “obesity epidemic” and that Black people—and Black women especially—should lose weight. But, is this rooted in health concerns? In this presentation, Sabrina Strings, associate professor of sociology at University of California, Irvine, will show that the aversion to fatness is not rooted in medical concerns; rather, it dates back to slavery. Moreover, even the medical field is implicated in its racist and sexist origins. Sign up now.
  • Booktalk – “The Moor’s Account” by author Laila Lalami | Thursday, Feb. 11, 5 p.m. • Zoom
    Author Laila Lalami will discuss her novel “The Moor’s Account,” a fictional memoir of Estebanico, widely considered to be the first Black explorer of America, the Moroccan slave who survived the Narvaez expedition and accompanied Cabeza de Vaca. His tale illuminates the ways in which our narratives can transmigrate into history, and how storytelling can offer a chance at redemption and survival. Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain and the United States. She is the author of four novels, including “The Moor’s Account,” which won the American Book Award, the Arab-American Book Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Her most recent novel, “The Other Americans,” was a national bestseller and a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the National Book Award in fiction. She is a full professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside and lives in Los Angeles. Her new book, a work of nonfiction called “Conditional Citizens,” was published by Pantheon in September 2020. Sign up now.
  • Lecture – 200 Years of Black Pioneers in Pasadena and Los Angeles | Wednesday, Feb. 17, 4 p.m. • Zoom
    Many people don’t realize how deep the roots are that the African American community has in Southern California. This talk explores the stories, some little known, of half a dozen pioneering, local individuals and communities.
    • The Pobladores, the original 1781 settlers of the Pueblo of Los Angeles, over half of whom had some African blood
    • Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California, of African and Mestizo ancestry
    • Biddy Mason, a midwife, who went from newly freed slave to one of the largest commercial landowners in Los Angeles within 20 years
    • The original African American settlers of Pasadena, who quickly formed a vibrant, tightly-knit community here by the early 1900s
    • Paul R. Williams, the first licensed African American architect west of the Mississippi
    • Jackie Robinson, who starred in four sports at John Muir High School, PCC, and UCLA, and went on to become the first African American player in major league baseball

Presented by Dave Nufer, a program developer, researcher, and docent for Pasadena Heritage and The LA Conservancy. He has previously given talks at the library on “Hispanic Influences on California Architecture,” and “The Asian Roots of Pasadena’s Arts and Crafts Architecture.” Sign up now.

  • Booktalk – “Heaven, My Home” by Attica Locke | Thursday, Feb. 18, 5 p.m. • Zoom
    Author Attica Locke will discuss her latest novel “Heaven, My Home” (September 2019), the sequel to Edgar Award-winning “Bluebird, Bluebird,” and share her writing journey as an African American writer. “Heaven, My Home” is a Pasadena Public Library 2021 One City, One Story nominee. Her third novel, “Pleasantville,” was the winner of the Harper Lee Prize for legal fiction and was also long-listed for the Bailey’s Prize for women’s fiction. “The Cutting Season” was the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for literary excellence. Her first novel, “Black Water Rising,” was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. A former fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker’s Lab, Locke works as a screenwriter as well. Most recently, she was a writer and producer on Netflix’s When They See Us and the upcoming Hulu adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. Sign up now.
  • Booktalk – An American Journey – A Legacy of Freedom and Slavery | Friday, Feb. 26, 5 p.m. • Zoom
    Monticello, once the home of Thomas Jefferson and 400 enslaved men, women and children, is a testament to America’s legacy of freedom and slavery. Join us as Gayle Jessup White, a descendant of Jefferson and two of the families he enslaved, discusses her decades-long journey tracing her family’s oral tradition connecting her to Jefferson. A book about her life-long journey will be published by HarperCollins in the fall of 2021. White is also Monticello’s first public relations and community engagement officer. Sponsored by the Hastings Branch Library Associates. Sign up now.
  • Booktalk – “Partners to History: Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement” by Donzaleigh Abernathy | Saturday, Feb. 27, 2-4 p.m. • Zoom
    Donzaleigh Abernathy, an American actress, author and civil rights activist, will discuss her book, “Partners to History: Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement.” The book is a tribute and testament to the courage, strength and endurance of Martin Luther King, Ralph David Abernathy, Sr. and those involved in the civil rights movement—men who stirred a nation with their moral fortitude. Abernathy is the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, Sr. and Juanita Jones Abernathy, who was quite famous for being actively involved in the creation and strategies of the civil rights movement and in present-day civil and human rights efforts until her death on Sept. 12, 2019. Sign up now.


  • Teen Activity – Sketches & More | Wednesday, Feb. 17, 4 p.m. • Zoom
    For teens, join us for a virtual guided art session inspired by Black History Month with staff from the Armory Center for the Arts. Supplies available if needed. Sign up now.
  • Teen Activity – Paint With Us | Wednesday, Feb. 24, 4 p.m. • Zoom
    Join us for a painting tutorial inspired by Black History Month. Supplies available for pickup if needed. View the livestream at For teens ages 12-18. Sign up now.


  • Tween Activity – Windows and Mirrors Book Club | Wednesday, Feb. 10, 7 p.m. • Zoom
    5th – 7th graders meet online to discuss a contemporary realistic middle grade book about kids with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Maybe you’ll see yourself in one of these kids, or maybe you’ll get a window into the lives of others! This month’s book is “A Good Kind of Trouble” by Lisa Moore Ramée. We’ll talk about the book’s themes of civil rights, social justice and activism. Sign up now.


  • Family Activity – Telling Tales with Nick Smith
    Join library staffer and storyteller Nick Smith as he shares a mix of folktales and historical pieces about African Americans. Find these stories, and more on the library’s You Tube Channel. This collection of stories is perfect for school age kids and their families, and is available 24/7 on demand. Presented in partnership with Pasadena Media.
  • Children’s Activity – Celebrate Black History Month with Social Media Storytime
    Enjoy books by African American creators.
    • Preschool Storytime | Monday, Feb. 1, 10:30 a.m. • Facebook
      Join us on Facebook at For ages 3-5 and their caregivers.
    • Toddler Storytime | Tuesday, Feb. 2, 10:30 a.m. • Instagram Live
      Join us on Instagram Live @pasadenalibrary. For ages 18-36 months and their caregivers.
    • Preschool Storytime | Thursday, Feb. 4, 3 p.m. • Instagram Live
      Join us on Instagram Live at @pasadenalibrary. For ages 3-5 and their caregivers.
  • Signs ‘n Storytime | Friday, Feb. 5, 4 p.m. • Instagram Live
    A fun storytime featuring a few American Sign Language (ASL) signs to learn. Join us on Instagram Live @pasadenalibrary.
  • Children’s Activity – STEAM Story Time | Thursday, Feb. 11, 11 a.m. • Facebook
    Miss Monica reads the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award winner, “I Am Every Good Thing,” by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James. Join us on Facebook at
  • Children’s Activity – Preschool Storytime: Celebrating Black Families | Wednesday, Feb. 17, 10:30 a.m. • Zoom
    Join us as we share family-friendly stories and songs. For ages 3-5. Sign up now.
  • Children’s Activity – Chocolate Storytime | Friday, Feb. 26, 4 p.m. • Facebook
    An afternoon of storytelling and village building, featuring stories authored by and/or about African Americans. Join us on Facebook at as Dr. Ayesha Randall reads a book celebrating the culture of Black Americans. For ages 3+.


  • Make Your Own Paper Freedom Quilt Squares | Monday, Feb. 1, 9 a.m. • While supplies last
    Learn a bit about freedom quilts and then create your own paper quilt square to be a part of the Lamanda Community Freedom Quilt displayed in the library’s windows. Quilt squares must be picked up and returned to Lamanda Park Branch Library. Sign up to reserve your kit starting Feb. 1. Available while supplies last. For ages 5-12.
  • Linda Vista Decorative Arts: Take and Make Fabric Quilt Block | Monday, Feb. 8, 9 a.m. • While supplies last
    Make a small fabric quilt block to celebrate one of the oldest forms of African American visual experience. Materials and instructions are included to complete your block. Scissors needed. Call (626) 744-7278 to reserve your fabric block quilt kit starting Feb. 8 at 9 a.m. Available while supplies last. For ages 18+.
  • Hastings Peace Wreath Craft | Monday, Feb. 8, 9:30 a.m. • While supplies last
    Celebrate Black History Month by creating a paper peace wreath made of hands. Sign up to reserve your craft kit starting Feb. 8 at 9:30 a.m. Available while supplies last (additional supplies needed: scissors, glue and/or stapler). For ages 5+.
  • Collectibles – Notable Black Artists Buttons and Bookmarks | Monday, Feb. 8-Friday, Feb. 26, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. • While supplies last
    Celebrate the contributions that Black Americans have made in the arts by collecting our commemorative buttons and bookmarks. Collect all six. Pick up to two buttons or bookmarks a week at La Pintoresca Branch Library while supplies last.
  • Workshop – Crafting with Tiff & Tosh | Mondays, Feb. 8 & 22, 3 p.m. • Instagram Live
    Join us and learn how to make special crafts in honor of Black History Month. Join us on Instagram Live @pasadenalibrary.
  • Craft – Black History Month Take & Make: Basquiat Crown | Monday, Feb. 22–Thursday, Feb. 25, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. • While supplies last
    Learn about famous African American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat then create your very own wearable Basquiat crown. Fill out this survey form starting Feb. 22 at 9:30 a.m. to reserve your kit. Limit one kit per participant. You’ll receive an e-mail when your craft kit is ready for pickup. All materials included. Available while supplies last.


  • Is This Heaven? (2015) Documentary
    John Preston “Pete” Hill was an American outfielder and manager in baseball’s Negro leagues from 1899 to 1925. He played for the Philadelphia Giants, Leland Giants, Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, Milwaukee Bears and Baltimore Black Sox. View anytime you wish at home, available through hoopla.
  • Drive-in Movie: Selma (2014) PG-13 | Saturday, Feb. 20, 6 p.m. • Rose Bowl
    A chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. Free (pre-registration required). View details and sign up.

For more information about Black History Month events, visit or

Stay connected to the City of Pasadena! Visit us online at; follow us on Twitter at @PasadenaGov, and Instagram and Facebook at @CityOfPasadena; or call the Citizen Service Center, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at (626) 744-7311.

This press release was produced by the City of Pasadena. The views expressed here are the author’s own.