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Celebrating Black History Month

From attending local virtual events to watching documentaries on CBC Gem, here is a list of resources to learn more about the stories of Black creators.

Join us in learning about Black history and celebrating Black contributions in Canada

(CBC Edmonton)

February is Black History Month — a time where we celebrate the many achievements that Black Canadians have contributed to Canada's history and culture. 

Alberta has a rich history of Black culture. In fact, the fastest growing Black population in Canada is on the Canadian Prairies, where it has quadrupled in the last 20 years. 

Although we are still in a pandemic, there are still many ways for us to learn about the contributions of Black Canadians digitally and safely in-person. Look below for a list of local and national resources. 

Virtual & in-person events to attend

(CBC Gem)

Films and TV series to watch

Movies and TV series on CBC Gem

  • THE PORTER | Drama | Feb. 21
    *Exclusive Canadian Premiere

    Set in the early 1920s and inspired by real events, THE PORTER follows train porters Junior Massey and Zeke Garrett, Junior's wife Marlene, and upstart performer Lucy, as a tragedy in the community sets them on starkly different paths to a better life. While Junior takes advantage of a broken system to pursue money and power in gambling and bootlegging, Zeke fights the railway to change the system from within by unionizing the Black porters. Marlene questions whether her work as a Black Cross nurse is truly serving her community, while Lucy takes her success into her own hands – whatever the cost.  As each pursues their goals, their once unbreakable bonds are stretched to their limits. Will they need to betray each other and their community to make their dreams reality?
  • VOICE OF FREEDOM | Documentary | Feb. 1

    On Easter Sunday, 1939, contralto Marian Anderson stepped up to a microphone in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Inscribed on the walls of the monument behind her were the words "all men are created equal." Barred from performing in Constitution Hall because of her race, Anderson would sing for the American people in the open air. VOICE OF FREEDOM interweaves Anderson's rich life story with this landmark moment in history, exploring fundamental questions about talent, race, fame, democracy, and the American soul.
  • THE BLACK CHURCH: THIS IS OUR STORY, THIS IS OUR SONG | Documentary | Feb. 1

    An intimate four-hour series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Finding Your Roots), THE BLACK CHURCH: THIS IS OUR STORY, THIS IS OUR SONG explores the 400-year-old story of the black church in America, the changing nature of worship spaces, and the men and women who shepherded them from the pulpit, the choir loft, and church pews.
  • THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION | Documentary | Feb. 1

    In the turbulent 1960s, change was coming to America and the fault lines could no longer be ignored — cities were burning, Vietnam was exploding, and disputes raged over equality and civil rights. A new revolutionary culture was emerging and it sought to drastically transform the system. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense would, for a short time, put itself at the vanguard of that change. THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION is the first feature-length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party, its significance to broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for Black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails.
  • BLACK BOYS | Documentary | Feb. 1
    *Exclusive Canadian Premiere

    BLACK BOYS illuminates the full humanity of Black men and boys in America. An intimate, inter-generational exploration, BLACK BOYS strives for insight to Black identity and opportunity at the nexus of sports, education, and criminal justice. Speaking with an array of figures — ranging from educators, athletes, journalists, activists, parents, and youth — the documentary explores the body, mind, voice, and heart of Black boys and the double edged sword of having to build up their own self worth while knowing the world is not built for them. 
  • MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE | Documentary | Feb. 1

    This unprecedented film weaves Maya Angelou's (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) words with rare and intimate archival photographs and videos, which paint hidden moments of her exuberant life during some of America's most defining moments. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana to her poetry reading for President Bill Clinton's inauguration, the film takes us on an incredible journey through the life of a true American icon. 
  • I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO | Documentary | Feb. 1

    I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO envisions the book James Baldwin (The Fire Next Time) never finished, a radical narration about race in America, using the writer's original words, as read by actor Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction). Alongside a flood of rich archival material, the film draws upon Baldwin's notes on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. to explore and bring a fresh and radical perspective to the racial narrative in America.

  • ALL THE STREETS ARE SILENT: THE CONVERGENCE OF HIP HOP & SKATEBOARDING | Documentary | Feb. 21

    The culture-shifting collision of hip hop and skateboarding is thoroughly and passionately unpacked in this dynamic new documentary from Montreal-born director Jeremy Elkin (Call Me Caitlyn), a seasoned skate-video maker. Narrated by Eli Morgan Gesner (Condemned), co-founder of the iconic NYC skateboarding company Zoo York, ALL THE STREETS ARE SILENT zeroes in on a pivotal chapter in New York history, 1987 to 1997, when Manhattan's cauldron of youth-led subcultures married hip hop with skateboarding and gave birth to a potent (and profitable) "street culture" movement that infiltrated every urban corner of the globe.
  • CARGO | Drama | Feb. 25
    *Exclusive Canadian Premiere

    Swept up into the global human trafficking epidemic, a mother must fight to find her family's freedom. CARGO tells the story of the international refugee crisis, spanning multiple perspectives and geographical borders, and the dark world of those who profit from it.
(Movies, Films and Flix)

Movies from Black Filmmakers:

The Calgary Underground Film Festival has put together a list of 10 films from Black filmmakers whose work should be celebrated during Black History Month. They have listed some of their favourite films from the past two years from Black creatives around the world, and where, if possible, you can stream these films online.

  1. Summer Of Soul (...or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (2021) | Directed by Questlove | Documentary / Music | United States
    A look at the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which celebrated African American music and culture, and promoted Black pride and unity.

  2. Subjects of Desire (2021) | Directed by Jennifer Holness | Documentary | Canada
    A culturally significant, thought-provoking documentary that ultimately deconstructs what we understand about race and the power behind the beauty.

  3. The Guilty (2021) | Directed by Antoine Fuqua | Crime / Thriller | United States
    A demoted police officer assigned to a call dispatch desk is conflicted when he receives an emergency phone call from a kidnapped woman. 
    *Available on Netflix

  4. Learn To Swim (2021) | Directed by Thyrone Tommy | Music / Drama | Canada
    Two contemporary jazz musicians develop a stormy and tragic romance.

  5. His House (2020) | Directed by Remi Weekes | Horror / Thriller | United States
    As a young couple from war-torn South Sudan seeks asylum and a fresh start in England, they're tormented by a sinister force living in their new home.
    *Available on Netflix

  6. One of Ours (2021) | Directed by Yasmine Mathurin | Documentary | Canada
    After a Haitian-born youth is racially profiled at an Indigenous basketball tournament, he wrestles with his shaken sense of belonging in his Indigenous adoptive family while attempting to heal from his past.

  7. Crazy World (2014 / 2020 CUFF Selection) | Directed by Nabwana I.G.G. | Action | Uganda
    The latest Wakaliwood release, Crazy World is a violent action-packed Ugandan film about a gang of child-snatching mobsters called the Tiger Mafia.

  8. Residue (2020) | Directed by Merawi Gerima | Drama | United States
    A young filmmaker returns home after many years away, to write a script about his childhood, only to find his neighborhood unrecognizable and his childhood friends being scattered to the wind.
    *Available on Netflix

  9. Candyman (2021) Directed by Nia DaCosta | Horror / Thriller | United States
    A sequel to the horror film Candyman (1992) that returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend began.
    *Available on Apple TV

  10. Zola (2020) Directed by Janicza Bravo | Comedy / Crime / Drama | United States
    A stripper named Zola embarks on a wild road trip to Florida.
    *Available on Apple TV

CBC Calgary and CBC Edmonton announced that Tarik Robinson has been named as the new producer and host of Key of A. (Phil Crozier)

Music to listen to

Recommended by Key of A's Tarik Robinson:

"This playlist features just some of the incredible music created by Black Albertans, incorporating R&B, soul, jazz, hip hop, afrobeat, reggae and country," says Tarik Robinson. "The songs were carefully selected to highlight different aspects of the black experience, including themes of joy, struggle, perseverance and hope."

Listen to the curated playlist here:

 

On CBC Listen:

The Key of A is an all-Alberta music show hosted by Tarik Robinson. Join Robinson on Saturdays from 5 to 6 p.m.  throughout February to hear music from Black musicians and artists and celebrate Black artists in Alberta. 

The Block is music of Black origin encompassing a fluid mosaic of styles. The Block is about culture and community. Repping the elements of hip hop from its roots to its far reaching influence. Listen weekdays from 7 to 9 p.m..

Frequencies is a weekly one-hour show hosted by Errol Nazareth. Audiences will be tuning in to music from around the world and here in Canada with stories that revolve around the experiences of Canadians of colour and immigrants who are maintaining and adapting their culture. In other words, finding their new frequencies. Listen Tuesdays 6 to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 4 to 5 p.m..

Follow host Odario Williams as he fills your nights with music. Each weeknight Afterdark's musical journey leads off with popular contemporary hits. As the night unfolds you'll discover new sounds ranging from art-pop to avant-garde. Listen weekdays from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m..

We asked 15 people to share their stories about life on the Prairies as Black folks. (CBC Graphics)

Books to read

Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike and his friends were craving goat meat with the skin — called ponmo — still on it. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

In the classroom

If you're a teacher or educator looking for classroom content for Black History Month, CBC's educational portal Curio.ca has released a new Black on the Prairies teacher's guide. For the month of February, the teacher's guide is available for free. After February, access the content with your Curio subscription.

(CBC)

Want more?

What does it mean to be Black in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba? It is impossible to limit more than 200 years of recorded Black presence on the Prairies to a single definition. Black on the Prairies began as a multiplatform project led by CBC senior reporter, Omayra Issa, and CBC radio host, Ify Chiwetelu. Through audio, video and online formats, Black on the Prairies explores the history and present lives of Black people on the Prairies through their triumphs and challenges, and places their contributions at the very centre of the Prairie narrative as part of the Canadian story.

Check out CBC's Being Black in Canada. It focuses on the diverse stories and experiences of Black Canadians and a breadth of content including news, documentaries, arts and other programming.


Have an event or resource to add? Email us at edm.communications@cbc.ca.

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