Norfolk Public Library (NPL) is proud to celebrate African American History Month in February with a series of events that focus on the national theme, “African Americans and the Vote.”

The year 2020 marks the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment and the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement. The year 2020 also marks the sesquicentennial of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) and the right of black men to the ballot after the Civil War. The theme speaks, therefore, to the ongoing struggle on the part of both black men and black women for the right to vote.

NPL encourages you to learn more about the rich and long history of this important topic in America by joining us for more than 30 events planned at libraries throughout the city. Events kick off on Saturday, February 1 at 1:00 p.m. at the Jordan-Newby Anchor Branch Library at Broad Creek with the Opening Celebration, African Americans and the Vote. The opening program will feature guest speaker Dr. Charles Ford of Norfolk State University and the Norfolk Library Board. Enjoy performances by the gospel singing duo of Ralph and Renee Payne, and Rosita Burnette.

On Sunday, February 2 at 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., NPL presents its 6th Annual African American Trailblazers Honors Program at the Chrysler Museum of Art, at One Memorial Place in Norfolk. The achievements of five distinguished individuals will be recognized with awards: Larry D. Boone, Norfolk Police Chief; Father Joseph N. Green, Former Norfolk Vice-Mayor; Regina Lawrence, President and CEO, STOP Inc.; Cecelia Tucker, Old Dominion University’s Director of Community Relations; and Pernell “Sweetpea” Whitaker, Olympic and Professional Boxing Champion.

Additional programs throughout the month include historical theater productions, concerts, a doll exhibit, teen bazaar, local author visit, cooking demonstration with a celebrity chef, and more! All events are free and open to the public.

For a complete list of events, visit the Library’s website at


The Right to Vote: African American Doll Exhibit

February 1–28, 2020

Jordan-Newby Anchor Branch at Broad Creek, 1425 Norchester Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23504 757-664-7328

This exhibit highlights pioneers who paved the way for African Americans to vote. Meet Fannie Lou Hamer, Thomas Peterson, Fredrick Douglas, Shirley Chisholm, Rosanell Eaton, Ida B. Wells and Evelyn Butts.

(All Ages)

Bright Star Touring Company presents “Heroes of the Underground Railroad”

Thursday, February 13 @ 10:30 AM

Little Creek Branch Branch, 7853 Tarpon Place, Norfolk, VA 23518 757-441-1751

During one of the darkest periods of American History, thousands of enslaved people undertook a harrowing journey to find freedom. That story comes to life in Heroes of the Underground Railroad. This play highlights several of the heroic stories of the brave men and women who dared to escape slavery, and the abolitionists who risked everything to aid them along the way. You will be amazed at the heroics of Harriet Tubman, Henry “Box” Brown, Frederick Douglass, Levi Coffin, and John Parker in this incredible show of true American Heroes.

(Teens & Adults)

Concert of Great African American Song Masters: “From Ella to Whitney and Sam to Luther”

Saturday, February 15 @ 3 PM

Blyden Branch, 879 E. Princess Anne Road, Norfolk, VA 23504 757-441-2852

This concert will take you back in time while also showcasing tunes of today. Included are Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Sarah Vaugh, Ruth Brown, Mavis Staples, and Whitney Houston. Also headlining are Billy Eckstine, Smokey Robinson, Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and Donny Hathaway.

(All Ages)

Down by the Bayou Mardi Gras Celebration with Chef Jacoby and the MLC Band

Thursday, February 22 @ Noon *Registration required

Park Place Branch, 620 West 29th Street, Norfolk, VA 23508 757-664-7330

Celebrate Mardi Gras with Chef Jacoby Ponder and taste the flavors of New Orleans. Dance on down by the Bayou with live music by the MLC Band. Children will have their very own Storytime with Princess Tiana! Please call the Park Place Branch at 757-664-7330 to register.

(All Ages)

Pretlow Concert Series Presents: Above & Beyond (Jazz)

Sunday, February 23 @ 2 PM

Pretlow Anchor Branch, 111 W. Ocean view Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23503 757-441-1750

Hampton Roads-based band Above & Beyond plays jazz at a top-shelf level, comparable to anything you’d hear from a national touring jazz outfit. If you love this kind of music, or simply want to try it out in a superb “listening room” environment, then join us as Above & Beyond brings its razor-sharp music back to the Pretlow Concert Series!

(All Ages)

Racial Sensitivity and Co-existence: Racist Feelings to Anti-Racist Behaviors

Saturday, February 29 @ 2–4 PM

Horace C. Downing Branch, 555 E. Liberty Street, Norfolk, VA 23523 757-441-1968

This interactive presentation, led by Dr. E. Curtis Alexander, will be guided by a glossary that gives a basis of understanding terms such as bias, prejudice, hate, ethnocentrism, bigotry, cultural grouping and racism. Dr. Alexander says, “This workshop gives an update on how to deal with racism since the 1619 beginnings of the African Holocaust experience in America.” (Adults)

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