Black History Now 2022

Black History Now 2022 logoIn our seventh annual season, the Portsmouth Museums and Portsmouth Public Library will commemorate African American heritage with our series of events, programs, lectures, family activities, and more. Topics relate to current museum exhibitions and highlight local people and history.


Ongoing Exhibitions

Rooting for the Home Team: 
Portsmouth's Black Baseball Players, Promoters, and Parks
Beginning January 15th

Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum 904 Elm Ave Portsmouth, VA 23704

In the post-World War II era, “Baseball was king” in the sports world of Hampton Roads, especially in the African American community. Discover the joy of baseball among Portsmouth’s Black community in the mid-20th century by learning about some of its best known players, teams, and ballparks at this new exhibit at the Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum.

Black History Trivia Contest
All February Long

Portsmouth Main Library 601 Court Street Portsmouth, VA 23704

Come on down to the Children's department in the basement to participate all month long! Open to all ages. Answers reside on the department's bulletin board.

Celebrate African-American Scientists!
All February Long
Children's Museum of Virginia 221 High Street Portsmouth, VA 23704

Discover African American scientists and their significant contributions during the month of
February. Their profiles will be featured throughout the 2nd floor and experiments related to their work will be highlighted in S.T.E.M. Studio each weekend.

Scheduled Events


Celebrate Martin Luther King Day
Saturday January 15th
10 AM to 4 PM

Portsmouth Main Library 601 Court Street Portsmouth, VA 23704

Drop in the library to make a peace dove in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
All ages are welcome.

Meet Negro Leagues Legend Sam Allen
Saturday, January 15
1:30 pm

Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center Annex 420 High Street Portsmouth, VA 23704

Journey back in time to the era of segregated baseball with Sam Allen, who played left field with Negro League teams Kansas City Monarchs, Raleigh Tigers, and Memphis Red Sox before serving with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Allen, a Norfolk resident, is a national treasure joining us to reminisce about his experiences with our national pastime both on and off the field.

Ms. Martha Reads
Saturday, January 22

10:30AM & 2:30PM
Children's Museum of Virginia 221 High Street Portsmouth, VA 23704

Ms. Martha Razor presents “The Donkey Who Lost His Memory”
A children’s story and puppet show written by a Portsmouth student. Guests will have the opportunity to hear and participate in the story and then create their own stick puppet to take home.

Caribbean Dreaming 

Wednesday, February 2 2022
10:30 am

Portsmouth Main Library 601 Court Street Portsmouth, VA 23704 

Explore the world of Caribbean Steel Drums through a historical and musical demonstration from Gary Garlic and learn how drums were outlawed on many Caribbean islands and how they came to be made from steel. A unique sound and art form was created by these politics. Learn how the people of the Caribbean became independent and at the same time developed an art of their own.

The Architecture of Democracy in a Landscape of Slavery
An Illustrated Presentation by Dr. Louis P. Nelson, University of Virginia
Saturday, February 5
1:30 pm
Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center Annex 420 High Street Portsmouth, VA 23704

The University of Virginia is closely associated with Thomas Jefferson, and is an architectural testament to the enlightened visions at that time, while also being a location where slavery was practiced. Dr. Nelson of the University of Virginia will present on the uses of architecture and landscape within this national landmark, and the intersection of these two realities, exploring Thomas Jefferson’s architectural designs and how they may reflect Jefferson’s own views of slavery.

Tuskegee Airmen: The First Top Guns
Saturday, February 12

1:30 pm

Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center Annex 420 High Street Portsmouth, VA 23704

In May of 1949, the US Military was still segregated. The U.S. Air Force held the first Gunnery Meet in Las Vegas where five “fighter groups” sent their best pilots and crews to compete, including the all African American 332nd Tuskegee Airmen fighter group. Come hear the details of this little known and fascinating story presented by Howard and Richard Baugh, two sons of decorated WWII fighter pilot Lt. Col. Howard Lee Baugh.

Engineer Loammi Baldwin, Urban Slavery, and the Construction of Dry Dock #1 at Gosport Shipyard
A presentation by Dr. Linda Upham-Bornstein, Plymouth State University
Saturday, February 19
1:30 pm

Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center Annex 420 High Street Portsmouth, VA 23704

When Dry Dock #1 at today’s Norfolk Naval Shipyard was built in the 1830s, the labor necessary to complete it included enslaved stonecutters who were paid for their expertise. Hiring out skilled slaves caused controversy, but not for the reasons you might think. Discover more about this fascinating piece of Shipyard history when Dr. Linda Upham-Bornstein, Teaching Lecturer in History at Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH, presents her research, first published in the journal Labor in 2007.

African American History Expo
featuring a presentation by Jack Gary, Colonial Williamsburg
Saturday, February 26
2pm - 4pm
Portsmouth Main Library 601 Court Street Portsmouth, VA 23704  

Come celebrate African American history and music! Displays of handicrafts and live music from Port Towne Magic kick off this event leading up to a presentation from Jack Gary, directory of archeology at Colonial Williamsburg. Mr. Gary will discuss the excavations at the site of the First Baptist Church in Williamsburg. The First Baptist Church of Williamsburg was organized in 1776 by a group of courageous slaves and free blacks who wanted to worship God in their own way. Their first building was built in 1818 but was destroyed by a tornado in 1834. The second building was built in 1856 but was torn down for a parking lot in 1956. Come and hear some of the fascinating history of this early African American congregation.

All events are easily within walking distance from the County Street parking garage located at 200 County Street. Street parking is also available. Parking is located on-site at the Colored Community Library Museum, located 0.8 miles west of the County Street garage.

Java & Djembes: African Percussion Workshop
Featuring Coffees & Chocolates from the African Continent
POSTPONED (Makeup Date TBA)

Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center Annex 420 High Street Portsmouth, VA 23704

Participants will enjoy coffees and fine chocolates from Africa while learning percussion rhythms from master musician Kamiruri Kelly of the Day Program.

Price: $10 per person.
Ages 17 and up.

Purchase tickets here
Or call (757) 393-8543 to register.