From the South African documentary Everything Must Fall
February is Black History Month, and for Montreal’s 28th edition, organizers are focusing in particular on the voices of black women, “these inspiring personalities who reject the status quo, deconstruct prejudice on a daily basis and attempt to reclaim their identities and experiences as black women (and all persons identifying themselves as women)”. I encourage everyone to begin by browsing through moishistoiredesnoirs.com, where you can read, in English or French, about the history of Black History Month and see a full line-up of events, including the blood drive organized in conjunction with BHM on Feb. 16 (see below). Also, if you have an event pertaining to BHM that people should know about, you can submit directly through the site to get further visibility.
We should absolutely be thinking about Montreal’s black community year-round, not to mention celebrating and listening to all the subaltern voices in our communities. But with each year bringing new sources of excitement and concern alike, Black History Month is a wonderful yearly reminder (among others things) of the new artistic and activist voices rising to the fore and older ones given their due, not to mention new sources of political and social concern — new reasons to pay attention.
With that in mind, let this chilly February, like other chilly Februaries, be a time for reflection and engagement. Here’s a list to scratch the surface of what’s going on for Black History Month in Montreal in 2019.
Jan. 30–Feb. 10
Tableau d’Hôte, in collaboration with Playwright’s Workshop Montreal, presents Blackout: The Concordia Computer Riots, revisiting the 1969 student occupation and examining race in Quebec more broadly. 1455 de Maisonneuve W., various times, $22–$27
As part of the Protest and Pedagogy series, the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling presents Telling Stories: Black Montreal, at 4th SPACE. 1400 de Maisonneuve W., 10:15 a.m –1 p.m., free with registration
A bilingual discussion at Espace Mushagalusa with simultaneous translation examining racism, identity, and history. Open to both Muslim women and non-Muslim black women. 533 Ontario,1–4 p.m., free with registration
Espace de la Diversité hosts the Congrès des écrivains noirs à Montréal. 50 ans après (In French), a day celebrating black writers, artists and activists through debate, readings and performance. 3245 Émile-Journault, 2–10 p.m.
Cinema Politica presents Everything Must Fall, a documentary by Rehad Desai, follows South African activists fighting for affordable education. 1455 de Maisonneuve W, Room H-110, 7 p.m., by donation
Playwright Trey Anthony, speaking as part of Phi Centre’s Black Conversations event
The all-black comedy line-up the Underground Comedy Railroad is touring Canada in celebration of Black History Month and will be performing at the Wiggle Room. 3874 St-Laurent, 8:30, $10–$20
“Some inherited blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia, require the donor and recipient to share the same genetic background.” Both Héma-Québec and the Sickle Cell Foundation partner with BHM yearly to encourage blood donations from black communities to fill what is a pressing and specific need. 2515 Delisle 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m., free
Feb. 21–March 2
The Massimadi Festival, now in its 11th year, celebrates the intersection of black and LGBTQ communities through cinema. Multiple locations and times, $0–$35
The Phi Centre presents Black Conversations, a day of discussions, presentations and performances from black women, including the playwright Trey Anthony. 407 St-Pierre 12–5:30 p.m., $11.16–$14.88
Feb. 27–March 16
Black Theatre Workshop presents Trey Anthony’s play How Black Mothers Say I Love You at the Centaur Theatre, a story of motherhood, womanhood and the sacrifices implicit in the immigrant dream. 453 St-François-Xavier, $17 (Feb. 27 preview), general admission $27
See the complete Black History Month program here.