By Electa Draper
How did we not know this? America’s entrance into space—a stunning achievement that made America great again during the Cold War—was, in a big way, the untold story of three brainy black women at NASA toward the end of the Jim Crow era. It was untold for decades until a recent book and film, “Hidden Figures,” was made about them. What other hidden figures can we discover or re-discover?
This Black History Month is particularly momentous coming at the end of the presidency of Barack Obama, and as his legacy is being examined, debated and celebrated.
Black history month image
Studio portrait of Isom Dart, a man originally known as Ned Huddleston. Photo courtesy the Denver Public Library photo archives.
History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway
Denver at the Oscars: Hattie McDaniel’s Road to the Red Carpet
1:00-2:00p.m, Monday Feb. 13. Members $4, non-members $5
Best-selling historical novelist Charlene Porter looks at the life of Hattie McDaniel, a member of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and winner of the 1940 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the epic “Gone With the Wind.” But what other roles, in and out of film, did McDaniel play? For one, she was the first black woman to sing on U.S. radio. From Denver’s East High School to vaudeville, television and film, this Denver singer-songwriter, comedian and actress made her mark, including two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But while she appeared in more than 300 films, she received screen credits for only about 80.
The Obama Years: Members-Only Smithsonian Channel Film Screening
5:30 (reception)-8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, Free for members—Colorado Room. RSVP: 303-866-6524.
The film tells the story of Barack Obama through “the defining speeches of his career” and promises “through insights from eminent historians and interviews with key figures in Obama’s speech writing process, the film offers a fascinating look at the role of the president in American life.” Screening at 6:30p.m. is followed by a 7:30p.m. panel discussion.
The President’s Kitchen Cabinet Book Launch Party
4:00-7:00p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, $125
“The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our Presidents from the Washingtons to the Obamas,” is to be published by the University of North Carolina Press on President’s Day, (February 20) 2017. Miller is launching her book by inviting you to “come enjoy presidential food and drinks and celebrate history!” She’s asking you to join the culinary adventure and help her bring top presidential chefs to Denver.
Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, 2401 Welton St.
For more information, call 720-865-2401 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Juanita Gray Community Service Award
1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4
“Please join us as we honor African-American men, women and youth who make outstanding contributions to the Denver Metro area and who exemplify the ideals and spirit represented by Juanita Gray’s commitment to the community.”
Black Genealogy Search Group (BGSG)
10:30a.m.-12:30p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, Floor 1, Large Conference Room.
This group meets every fourth Saturday of the month (excepting August and December). The Black Genealogy Search Group (BGSG) was created because of interest in genealogy and black history and is looking to enjoy projects, friendships and fun gatherings.
Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 1400 Curtis St.
Byron Stripling’s “What A Wonderful World: A Tribute To Louis Armstrong”
7:30p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, tickets $29 and up. Website: tickets.coloradosymphony.org/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=3980.
Byron Stripling’s “electrifying and heartfelt tribute to Louis Armstrong has become America’s most popular orchestral Pops program,” the center says. Stripling’s vocals and trumpet performances have thrilled audiences worldwide. Musical hits include: “What A Wonderful World,” “Mack the Knife,” “Hello Dolly” and “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In.”
The Stiles African American Heritage Center, 2607 Glenarm Pl.
Call 303-294-0597, or visit the website: stilesheritagecenter.org.
This center in Five Points, the heart of Denver’s historic African-American community, celebrates contributions by black Americans through tours, exhibits and artifacts.