Celebrations of Black History in Cary

Cary, NC — Each year during the month of February, the Town of Cary celebrates the contributions of African American individuals to the local community and beyond.

This year, the town has arranged lots of new and returning programs to address and acknowledge the Black experience in America. Here are all the events, movies and ways to get involved.

Also, for those wanting to celebrate on their own time, there is always the Town of Cary’s African American self-guided driving tour. For more on this, visit our previous coverage of the tour.

The Future of Black History: Accuracy, Authenticity, & Action

Saturday, February 5 | 9 AM | Free, Virtual | Registration required

Tru Access in collaboration with the Town of Cary presents the 5th Annual Future of Black History Month Celebration: Accuracy, Authenticity, & Action. This year’s keynote speaker is Greg Cunningham, Chief Diversity Officer, U.S Bank.

The Future of Black History Month will celebrate and connect the contributions of African Americans across diverse cultures and generations and deliver an inclusive and engaging edutainment experience for the citizens of Cary and the surrounding areas. This event will serve to inspire and encourage its attendees and participants to reflect on how the choices and decisions they are making today are shaping our collective future.

26th Annual African American Celebration

A Legacy of Pride Presenting “Music of the Civil Rights Movement”

Saturday, February 19 | 2 – 4 PM | Cary Arts Center

Join us for a historical journey through time highlighting the role of music and its contributions to the civil rights movement. Presented in partnership with the Ujima Group Inc.  Featured Guest Artists include: The McLaughlin Group, Nick Courman and Christian Foushee-Green.

Symposium: A Candid Conversation

The impact of Covid on Marginal Communities in North Carolina

Saturday, February 26 | Virtual

Join us for a panel discussion of how the current pandemic is affecting communities of color. Become a part of the conversation with questions and comments for our medical experts.

Moderator: Karyn C. Thomas – Communications / The Ujima Group, Inc.

Panelists will include Dr. Leroy Darkes, Dr. James Smith, Dr. Julius Wilder and Cash Michaels.

Musical Foundations: Celebrating Black Music in America

Jazz on a Summer's Day Poster

Film: Jazz on a Summer’s Day 

The Cary Theater | 122 E. Chatham Street

Filmed at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island and directed by world-renowned photographer Bert Stern, Jazz on a Summer’s Day features intimate performances by an all-star line-up of musical legends including Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Anita O’Day, Chuck Berry, Dinah Washington, and closes with a beautiful rendition of The Lord’s Prayer by Mahalia Jackson at midnight to usher in Sunday morning.

Film: Amazing Grace

The Cary Theater | 122 E. Chatham Street

A behind-the-scenes documentary about the recording of Aretha Franklin’s best-selling album finally sees the light of day more than four decades after the original footage was shot.

Sign O' the Times poster

Film: Sign “O” The Times

The Cary Theater | 122 E. Chatham Street

Music legend Prince and his band perform 13 numbers, most of them from his double album, “Sign ‘o’ the Times.” This is high-energy stuff: neon signs flash above the stage, suggesting the honky-tonk district of a big city, and between numbers there are vignettes of street life. Sheila E, Boni Boyer and Cat provide rhythmic, vocal and physical pyrotechnics while Sheena Easton appears in a film within a film, her rock video “U Got the Look.”

In constant motion, never far from center stage, is Prince, Minnesota’s charismatic virtuoso, giving the performance of a lifetime.

Film: Wattstax

The Cary Theater | 122 E. Chatham Street

Exciting, vibrant documentary record of the 1972 Wattstax music festival in the community of Watts in Los Angeles. The festival marked the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots and set out to be an African-American answer to Woodstock and featured superb appearances from Rufus Thomas, Issac Hayes, The Staple Sisters, The Bar Kay and Albert King with euphoric support from Richard Pryor and Jesse Jackson.      Wattstax is a vital document of American cultural history.

Black Experiences on Film

Ailey poster

Film: Ailey

The Cary Theater | 122 E. Chatham Street

Alvin Ailey was a trailblazing pioneer who found salvation through dance. AILEY traces the full contours of this brilliant and enigmatic man whose search for the truth in movement resulted in enduring choreography that centers on the Black American experience with grace, strength, and unparalleled beauty. Told through Ailey’s own words and featuring evocative archival footage and interviews with those who intimately knew him, director Jamila Wignot weaves together a resonant biography of an elusive visionary.

Film:  My Name Is Pauli Murry

The Cary Theater | 122 E. Chatham Street

Fifteen years before Rosa Parks refused to surrender her bus seat, a full decade before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned separate-but-equal legislation, Pauli Murray was already knee-deep fighting for social justice. A pioneering attorney, activist, priest and dedicated memoirist, Murray shaped landmark litigation—and consciousness— around race and gender equity.

As an African American youth raised in the segregated South—who was also wrestling with broader notions of gender identity—Pauli understood, intrinsically, what it was to exist beyond previously accepted categories and cultural norms. Both Pauli’s personal path and tireless advocacy foreshadowed some of the most politically consequential issues of our time. Told largely in Pauli’s own words, My Name is Pauli Murray is a candid recounting of that unique and extraordinary journey.

Film: Daughters of the Dust

The Cary Theater | 122 E. Chatham Street

At the dawn of the 20th century, a multi-generational family in the Gullah community on the Sea Islands off of South Carolina – former West African slaves who adopted many of their ancestors’ Yoruba traditions – struggle to maintain their cultural heritage and folklore while contemplating a migration to the mainland, even further from their roots.

42 poster

Film: 42

The Cary Theater | 122 E. Chatham Street

In 1947, Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era when he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers and faces considerable racism in the process.

Story from staff reports. Photos courtesy of the Town of Cary website.

All the Cary news for the informed Cary citizen. Subscribe by email.