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DART helps you celebrate Black History Month
Black History Month rolls around each February, and the Dallas area is rich in African-American culture. From acclaimed institutions to unexpected finds, DART connects you to the African-American experience.
Dallas Black Dance Theatre, the city's largest dance company, is one of North Texas' cultural treasures. From Feb. 15-17, check out Cultural Awareness, which pays homage both to Odetta Holmes (the "Queen of American Folk Music") and the incomparable Nina Simone. The Wyly Theatre is right in the Dallas Arts District, a short walk from Pearl/Arts District Station. dbdt.com
The African American Museum is another prized institution, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. The only one of its kind in the Southwest, the museum boasts one of the largest African-American folk art collections in the country. Rising from the Thicket is an ongoing exhibition of Tina Williams Brewer's artwork, with its rich mixture of symbolism, folklore, history and spirituality. The museum is near Fair Park Station. aamdallas.org.
Not all African-American culture in North Texas is on stages and museum walls. Our region is also teeming with public art. You'll even find some of it at and near DART Rail stations.
A 10-minute walk from Downtown Plano Station, at 12th Street and I Avenue, you'll find the dramatic Tracks of Our Past and Future. The mosaic is Shug Jones' and Lynne Chinn's vivid tribute to the historically black Douglass Community. The 75-foot-long piece commemorates Plano's first black resident, whose descendants still call Plano home, as well as his ancestors and other early residents of the neighborhood.
In front of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Emmanuel Gillespie recently unveiled his sculpture of Ernie Banks - a black pioneer in baseball who attended the school in the 1940s and was raised on Fairmount Street. The school is a short walk from Pearl/Arts District Station.
Gillespie's work is also at MLK, Jr. Station. Using symbols from African Kuba cloths on the pavers and columns, the artist joined the facility thematically to adjacent J.B. Jackson, Jr. Transit Center - also named for a civil rights leader. Additionally, sculptor Steve Teeters created two 17-foot African "talking drums."
Karl Ciesluk's sculpture at Forest Lane Station, Against the Mainstream, reflects a nearby, historically black neighborhood: Hamilton Park. The sculpture depicts fish swimming upstream, representing African-Americans who spoke up for fair housing.
And at Hatcher Station, artist Vicki Meek used a community quilt motif to join the area’s past and present. In addition, pavers showcase the names of historic, black-owned businesses. Meek worked with art students to create a then-and-now portrait of the neighborhood.