Library celebrates African American History Month with tons of free events

Ellington show.(Photo: Submitted Art)

African American History Month brings a calendar full of special programming to our Nashville Public Library system, with puppet shows, story times,  discussions groups,  music and cultural offerings, movies and arts and crafts.

Here is a sampling and they are all free so take your pick!

Puppets

The library‘s Wishing Chair Productions has teamed up with the Nashville Jazz Workshop to present “,” which uses puppets to bring master of Jazz Duke Ellington to life on a musical journey. Shows are well suited for children and adults and  are at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. on Feb, 3,4,10,11,17,18  at the Main Library, 615 Church St. Call 862-5785 to ask about programs for groups of 10 or more.

The library‘s Puppet Truck takes its “” show on the road to multiple branches in February, too. This colorful marionette and hand and rod puppet play (also for all ages) is based on the African tales of a tricky spider who uses cleverness to achieve his wishes. Show times are 2 p.m. Feb. 4 at North, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 4 at Inglewood, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 11 at Richland Park, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 18 at Bellevue, 2 p.m. Feb. 18 at Old Hickory, 2 p.m. Feb. 25 at Goodlettsville and 10:30 a.m. Feb. 25 at Bordeaux.

Music and Dance

The   at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 4 at the Main Library. In this West African folk tale, a hunter named Ama meets a magical singing tortoise in the forest. He promises not to tell anyone about the tortoise’s talent, but breaks his word and must face the consequences. For all ages.

The , with rhythm and dance performances from Afro-Brazilian traditions at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 1 at Goodlettsville, 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 at Main Library, 4:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at Watkins Park, and 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at Looby.   Designed for ages 7 and under.

The Global Education Center will also present the  – directed by Shannon Holland, who will share both traditional rhythms of The Great Mali Empire of West Africa as well as his original rhythms. Times are  2 p.m. Feb. 4, at Bellevue;  2 p.m. Feb. 11 at Madison; 4:15 p.m. Feb. 13 at Bellevue; 4 p.m. Feb. 14 at Pruitt; 10:30 a.m. Feb. 22 at Green Hills; and 6 p.m. Feb. 23 at Edmondson Pike.

There is a special program for ages 11-17 callled “” where tweens and teens can discover how music united and inspired activists during the civil rights movement. Listen to “old school” songs about freedom from the library’s Civil Rights Collection and create and sing their own contemporary lyrics. This program takes place from 3-7 p.m. on Feb. 2 at Bordeaux;  6-7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at Edmondson Pike; at noon on Feb. 18 at North; and at 2 p.m. Feb. 18 at Bellevue.

Wonderful storyteller Michael Diallo McLendon has two tales to tell: He will tell ” a “steel-driving man” whose prowess was measured in a race against a steam-powered hammer. Times are 10:30 a.m. Feb. 6 at Old Hickory; 10:30 a.m. Feb. 7 at Bordeaux; 10 a.m. Feb. 8 at North; and 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 11 at Inglewood.

McLendon will also be telling the “Tales of of Br‘er Rabbit,” a classic trickster who succeeds by his wits rather than by brawn. Times are: 11 a.m. Feb. 25 at Edmondson Pike, and 10:30 a.m. Feb. 27 at Richland Park. Both of these are appropriate for all ages.

If you‘d like to meet Abraham Lincoln, head for the Goodlettsville branch at 2 p.m. Feb. 4 to experience history firsthand with Dennis Boggs, who portrays Lincoln, and brings the 16th president to life through his first-person telling of Lincoln‘s life story. Boggs does a grand job of capturing Lincoln and his place and time in history. Go to meetmrlincoln.

Other activities  

February is also packed with free Black History-related movies and documentaries at the Nashville Library branches, featuring “The Help” at 3 p.m.Feb. 9 at East (Teen Theater), “The Black Panthers” at 11 a.m. on Feb. 21 at Hadley Park, “Guess Who‘s Coming to Dinner” at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 16 at Hermitage and “The Wiz,” the Diana Ross film, at 5 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Madison branch.

The library branches also have arts and craft sessions, where you can paint a masterpiece, make an African mask, create an African American hero t-shirt, make a collage or create your own quilt.

There are more than a dozen African American history story times for preschoolers, as well as grownup discussions on Malcolm X, African American photography and Black Education.

Other Black History Month offerings

Battle Ground Academy is hosting a Black History Month concert featuring the renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers at 6 p.m. Feb. 24, at Franklin United Methodist Church. The concert is free and open to the community. The church is located on Mack Hatcher Bypass directly across the street from BGA’s Glen Echo campus. Register for the event at

The 2017 Williamson County Public Library’s Annual Thelma Battle Photograph Display features “The Eyes Have it! A Glance of the past people, places, life, and times of the Natchez Street area”  from Feb. 1-March 1, at the Library, 1314 Columbia Ave. in Franklin. “Stop … Look … and See…37064.”

The Williamson County Library also has some story times celebrating Black History Month, including one at 10:30 a.m.  Feb. 22, at the Nolensville Branch Library, 915 Oldham Drive, in Nolensville. It will give you a look at history through African American picture book authors and illustrators such as Kadir Nelson..

The Cool Springs area Barnes & Noble store will feature a book signing at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 15 with Andrew Maraniss, author of “Strong Inside,” the inspirational true story of Perry Wallace the first African American to play college basketball in the SEC. The store is at 1701 Mallory Lane  in Brentwood.

The Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra (NPO) will perform two free concerts that showcase the powerful poetry of Nobel laureate Toni Morrison in the song cycle “Honey and Rue” by André Previn, with its rhythms of jazz, blues and overtones of spirituals.

The program, which also includes an orchestral transcription of J.S. Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” and Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony #2”, will be performed at two Metro Nashville schools with large minority populations: 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at  East Nashville Magnet High School, 110 Gallatin Pike, and 4 p.m. Feb. 26 at Apollo Middle School, 6311 Richards Road, Antioch. 

Reach Ms. Cheap at or mscheap. Follow her on Facebook at facebook/mscheap, and at Tennessean/mscheap, and on Twitter , and catch her every Thursday at 11 a.m. on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”

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