Go on a journey at Exploration Place
For the second year, Exploration Place will be featuring a large-scale outdoor exhibit during Black History Month, “Celebrating African American Earth and Space Scientists,” which will highlight African Americans who made STEM history in aeronautics, aerospace and aviation.
The museum will project an image of a different African American earth and space scientist, such as award-winning science communicator Raychelle Burks, for each week of February onto the outside of their building. Since it will not be visible from the road, visitors will need to park near the Keeper of the Plains and the Arkansas River path to see it. Make it an evening and stay to watch the nightly Ring of Fire lighting at the Keeper of the Plains, which lights at 7 p.m. during winter months. Additionally, visitors can see the display from inside Exploration Place on Thursday nights, when the museum is open until 8 p.m.
Explore the Kansas African American Museum
The Kansas African American Museum (TKAAM) is housed in the former Calvary Baptist Church, once the cornerstone of Wichita’s vibrant Black community. The museum is one stop on the Kansas African American History Trail and is considered the preeminent home of Kansas African American history and artifacts.
In addition to permanent exhibitions, “A Tribute to Samella Lewis” is on display through Black History Month. This exhibit pays tribute to the late Dr. Samella Lewis, a major benefactor and supporter of the museum. A nationally known artist and art historian, Lewis gifted to TKAAM a portion of her private collection of paintings and sculptures as well as her own work.
Discover the sounds of talented, local musicians
Delight in the musical sounds of local, Black musicians at various venues across the city. One you have to hear for yourself is Rudy Love, Jr. Son of legendary bluesman Rudy Love, his music defies genres and forms a connection with audiences. You can find Rudy on stage locally at venues like Mort’s Martini & Cigar Bar, WAVE and the Brickyard. Head over to his Facebook page to keep tabs on where he is performing. Another Black artist worth seeking out in Wichita is Injoy Fountain. You might remember her from “The Voice” or maybe you saw her when she was on tour with Postmodern Jukebox. Locally, she brings her musical talent to a variety of venues like Vorshay’s Cocktail Lounge and Chicken N Pickle and has also performed in Music Theatre Wichita and Roxy’s Downtown productions.
“Celebrate Black Art” with Mark Arts
Mark Arts has an inspiring morning planned from 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 11 with “Art Together: Celebrate Black Art.” Presented in collaboration with TKAAM, enjoy story time, a curated display by “Art That Touches the Heart” and a lively performance by the Wichita Public Schools’ Buckner Elementary drumline students. All events are free, but advance registration is requested.
Support African American art and artists
Now through Feb. 26, CityArts is featuring “Art That Touches Your Heart” Community and National Art Exhibit, a special annual traveling exhibit that works with artists in Wichita and beyond to bring Black art to the Midwest. The exhibit provides education about Black History Month and is designed to celebrate Black artists from Wichita and across the country. For nine years, this charitable art show was held at Wichita State University and is being held at CityArts for the third time in conjunction with Black History Month. Admission is free.
African Americans in Kansas performed in a variety of musical ensembles and made an incredible impression on music in the state. Learn about the people and places that are key to Kansas’ musical history at “African American Musicians in Kansas 1860-1920” on Feb. 18 at the Wichita Public Library-Advanced Learning Center. Born in Kansas, Lemuel Sheppard is a blues, folk and jazz musician who also interprets African American folk music. He will introduce the audience to Black musicians and the songs they performed in Kansas from 1860 to 1920.
Praise the life of the Queen of Soul
A tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, Wichita Symphony Orchestra is presenting, “Aretha: A Tribute” on Feb. 18. This program features Broadway veteran Capathia Jenkins and Darryl Williams performing some of her iconic hits such as Respect, Think, A Natural Woman, Chain of Fools and Amazing Grace. Broadway guests will be joined by Wichita's own gospel choir A.R.I.S.E. and the talents of local celebrities Injoy Fountain, Koko Blanton and Jaslyn Alexander.
Visit the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame
Learn about exceptional coaches and athletes from Kansas, including inductees Willie Jeffries, the first African American head football coach at the NCAA Division 1 level; NFL great Barry Sanders; and basketball star Lynette Woodard, who became the first female Harlem Globetrotter. To visit the exhibits, request an appointment by calling the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Coming soon: Black aviators exhibit at Kansas Aviation Museum
As a result of its first capital campaign in more than a decade, the Kansas Aviation Museum plans to add a new theater and three new exhibits, one of which will be an expanded Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame and a reimagined Black aviators display that will be renamed the Rip Gooch Black Aviators exhibit. Ulysses Lee “Rip” Gooch was a retired Kansas state senator and former Wichita City Council member whose passion for flight and dedication to civil rights helped pave the way for Black leaders in the aviation industry.
Learn more about Black history in Wichita, read stories about Black leaders in the Heart of the Country and more with this guide to Black Wichita.