Annual Events that Celebrate Black History & Culture in Durham
The history of African Americans in Durham is as integral to our story as the mortar and brick that built the Bull City.
Posted By Discover Durham Staff
Grit, fortitude, and the unapologetic pursuit of justice are lasting legacies of a community that influenced the progress of Americans toward equality from coast to coast.
As Durhamites, we stand in the shadow of those who came before us, strengthened by the seeds of justice and equality planted here long ago. We invite you to reflect and experience the history of Black people and celebrate Black culture through Durham events and activities.
North Carolina Central University (NCCU) observes Black History Month with a series of events that are free and open to the public. Film screenings, lectures, panel discussions, and musical and theatrical performances take place throughout February, including appearances by nationally noted activists, authors, scholars, and educators.
Because of COVID-19, the university hopes to celebrate virtually this year.
The Hayti Heritage Film Festival (HHFF) commemorates over 25 years of celebrating Durham's African American heritage and the historic Hayti community, which was a thriving enclave in the early 20th century.
Because of COVID-19, the festival will mostly be virtual this year with films from new and veteran artists, panel discussions with industry experts, a series of in-person drive-in events, and an online performance.
The annual Art of Cool Festival is a celebration of alternative soul and jazz music that attracts people from all over. The three-day extravaganza features 20+ nationally touring performers across two outdoor stages and five venues. Past performers include Anthony Hamilton, Snarky Puppy, and Roy Ayers.
Stay tuned for updates on what the festival will look like this year.
The Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival was established in honor of the West African festival of harvest and celebration. After the season of harvest, entire villages would gather to give thanks through dance, praise, and feasting. This is a family-oriented event to celebrate African American history, culture, arts, and traditions.
Visit the Bimbé History page for information on how the festival has evolved throughout the years and to stay up to date on the event this year.
Black August in the Park is an annual event with a mission to creatively inspire and connect people of African descent to assert their value and engage in social and cultural change. This event is meant to be a beautiful celebration of Blackness that celebrates Black-owned businesses and gives social justice groups a platform.
Usually, Black August in the Park takes place in downtown Durham at Durham Central Park, but because of COVID-19, the event may be virtual and/or at the NC State Fairgrounds again. Stay tuned for updates.
On MLK Day each year, local nonprofit Book Harvest hosts Dream Big, a community-wide celebration of diversity, literacy, and books for all children held at Durham Central Park. You can continue to donate new or gently used children’s books, and volunteer to help sort and box donations well beyond the day as well. Visit www.bookharvestnc.org to learn more.
Want to learn more about Black History & Culture throughout the year? Plan a visit to Historic Stagville and check out the Guide to Murals in Durham that Celebrate Black History, Culture & Artists.
Historic Stagville is a state historic site that includes the remnants of one of the largest plantations in North Carolina. The Bennehan-Cameron family owned approximately 30,000 acres of land and claimed ownership of the 900 people who were enslaved on the property. Stagville is dedicated to teaching about the lives and work of enslaved people on the plantation.
In Durham, any blank space can become a canvas, and it is common to see murals on walls, crosswalks, and electrical boxes. Not only do these murals add vibrant colors and energy to this city, but they also tell stories that need to be told. This guide highlights public art dedicated to celebrating Durham's Black history, culture, and artists.