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List | 2023 Black History Month events across NWA and the River Valley

Many across NWA and the River Valley are looking to Black History Month in an effort to bring attention to the incredible contributions of African Americans.

ARKANSAS, USA — Black History Month began in 1970 as an effort to bring attention to the incredible contributions that African Americans have given to the United States.

It is meant to honor, and respect all Black people in remembrance of every period of American history—through all of America's dark histories.

In Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley, many businesses and venues are holding events both online and in person to celebrate and pay tribute to Black history and the future.

Northwest Arkansas


  • We Write for you IV: A black Children's Book Author / Illustrator Panel / Book reading. (Sat, Feb. 11, 2 p.m., at the Rogers Public Library)


  • Crystal Bridges, NWA Black Heritage, Delta Dirt Distillery, and Guest Chef Steven Brooks Explore Food, Culture, and Land: "For our first Wednesdays Over Water (WOW) event of 2023, join us for a unique culinary experience as we explore our local and regional expression of African American food and drink culture." (Wed, Feb. 8, 6 - 9 p.m. at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art)
  • Game Changers: Vital New Music: The APO's first concert of 2023 breaks new musical boundaries with the world premiere of ‘Movements for Flute and Orchestra’ by composer Carlos Simon, featuring flutist Brian Dunbar. (Sat, Feb. 11, 7 p.m. at Thaden School's Performing Arts Center.)


  • University of Arkansas Black Music Symposium is an "annual conference dedicated to educating and exposing the community to the musical contributions of Black Americans. This year’s theme, 'Lest our Feet Stray,' invokes a spirit of remembrance of Black music genres that were integral to the survival of Black Americans during slavery, the Jim Crow south, and the Civil Rights Movement." ( Feb 1. — Feb. 4, at the Billingsley Music Building, U of A campus.)
  • The Frame of Mind Exhibition 2023: "Brunch and art exhibition" showcasing local artists: (Feb. 5, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Art Ventures NWA)
  • The Arkansas Black Music and Film Expo: Is a "film expo at the Fayetteville Town Center, with screenings from Former Razorback and Emmy Nominated Quinn Grovey, local filmmaker Michael Day of DAYVISION Films, and a screening of Fire Little America–a documentary that brings together the top musicians and visual artists in Oklahoma to commemorate the centennial of the 1921 Massacre. We'll end the night with an open bar afterparty with The Rodney Block Collective (ft Bijoux)." (Feb. 17, 7 p.m., at Art Ventures NWA.)

Pea Ridge

  • Pea Ridge National Military Park: “From the Perspective of Frederick Douglass Through His Writings 1817-1895” In honor of Black History Month, park guide Kerry Jones will present a special program on the life of Frederick Douglass using Douglass’ own writings. This 1-hour program will take place in the park visitor center auditorium. (6:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25.)

The River Valley

Fort Smith:

  • The ASBTDC's Black Small Business Panel: is a summit where "local business owners will discuss challenges facing the growth and startup of Black-owned small businesses." (Thursday, Feb. 9, at 5:30 - 6:30 p.m., at the Bakery District venue.) 
  • RAM Saturdays, Interactive Art: "Create a different make-and-take art project each week. This month we are focusing on Black History Month as well as the artist Picasso!" (Sat. Feb. 4, 12 - 3 p.m., at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum)
  • Colson Whitehead: Talks craft (2 - 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Windgate Art and Design Theatre)
  • An Evening with Colson Whitehead: Book Signing to Follow (6 - 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Stubblefield Center)

  • Walking Tour of Photo Exhibition: “Now and Then: A Celebration of Black History in Fort Smith” (Noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center Main Hallway)

  • Lecture on the “Shaping Freedom in Post-Civil War Arkansas” by Dr. Kelly Jones, Assistant Professor of History: with a Discussion to Follow. (1:30 - 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center Reynolds Room)

  • Film Showing of “The Fabric of Fort Smith” with Introduction by Mayor George B. McGill: with a Discussion to Follow. (6 - 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center Reynolds Room)

  • Perspectives on Black History: The Intersection of Religion and Politics
    6 - 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17 at the Windgate Art and Design Theatre

  • State of the City Address: The Honorable George B. McGill, Mayor of Fort Smith: with a reception to follow. (6 - 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27 at the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center Reynolds Room)

  • Panel Discussion: “Perspectives on Black History: Trends in Education and the Future of Learning” (6 - 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 at the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center Room 129)

  • Film at the Fireplace: “The Fabric of Fort Smith." (Noon to 1 p.m. Mon. & Tues., Feb. 27 – 28 at the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center Fireplace)


  • Cross that River: A musical about the story of a runaway slave who became a Black cowboy. Cross That River successfully conveys the often-overlooked history of Black cowboys from the perspective of Blue, an escaped slave who moves westward to help pioneer the new American West. Students get tickets for free. (Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Alma Performing Arts Center)

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