Black history events planned

Published 9:05 pm Friday, February 10, 2017

A variety of events are happening this month in Suffolk and across the area to recognize the contributions made by black people throughout history.

Nathan Richardson, a Suffolk poet who presents a program portraying former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, will perform at several venues this month.

Nathan Richardson, a Suffolk poet who presents a program portraying former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, will perform at several venues this month.

Suffolk poet, author and spoken-word performer Nathan Richardson will perform his dramatic one-man show portraying former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass at several locations throughout the month.

Richardson will present “The Frederick Douglass Speaking Tour” on Feb. 16 at a program sponsored by Women in Defense Greater Hampton Roads. The program will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Virginia Beach-Norfolk, 5655 Greenwich Road, Virginia Beach.


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“Becoming Douglass has been the natural progression of my creative and professional work,” Richardson said. “It really seems like everything I’ve done in my entire life has prepared me to portray Frederick Douglass.”

During the program, Richardson will give a 15-minute synopsis of Douglass’ life and accomplishments, followed by an excerpt of his 1888 speech to the International Council of Women in Washington, D.C., on women’s suffrage. The piece also will include an unscripted question-and-answer period to allow the audience to learn more about Douglass’ relationships with notable women in the abolitionist movement.

Tickets to the event are $25 for members or $35 for non-members. Search for the event on for more information or to purchase tickets.

Richardson also will perform at Greater First Baptist Church Orlando, 600 Factory St., at 2 p.m. Feb. 19.

A series of presentations by the Suffolk Public Library will help local residents learn more about the history of local African-Americans.

  • The Morgan Memorial Library, 443 W. Washington St., will host Eric Sheppard from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 16. Sheppard, a relative of former slave Moses Grandy, will share his genealogical history and his ancestor’s history as a member of a maroon colony in the Great Dismal Swamp. An overview of the library’s genealogical resources will be given. The event is free.
  • The North Suffolk Library, 2000 Bennetts Creek Park Road, will host an event about the life of maroon communities of runaway slaves in the Great Dismal Swamp from 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 18. A screening of the documentary “Dismal History” and a conversation with one of the film’s producers and naturalist Penny Lazauskas will take place. The event is free.
  • Suffolk historian and lecturer Therbia Parker will present from 2 to 3 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Phillips-Dawson House, 137 Bank St., in the Suffolk Public Library’s Afternoon Conversations series hosted by the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society. Parker will exhibit part of his collection of African-American memorabilia and speak about Jim Crow.

The Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts also has two performances set this month that celebrate black history.

  • This Saturday, Feb. 11, the center will present “Deep River: The Marian Anderson Journey” at 8 p.m. The educational opera honors Black History Month by celebrating the legacy of the title character, one of the foremost classical singers of the 20th century. Tickets are $13.50 to $25.
  • On Feb. 18, the center will present “Freedom Song” by the Children’s Theatre of Hampton Roads at 11 a.m. The show follows a present-day student on a journey through time with her guide, Harriet Tubman. Tickets are $7.50.

The Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is located at 110 W. Finney Ave. Call 923-2900 or visit for tickets.

In Smithfield, the Blackwater Regional Library will have a celebration at 3 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the Smithfield Center, 220 N. Church St.

The celebration will include Sheila Arnold’s “History’s Alive!” presentation with the story of Oney Judge. Judge was the personal maidservant to Martha Washington from the time George Washington was elected to the Continental Congress until the end of his second term as president.

The program is free, and all ages are welcome. Light refreshments will be served. Call 257-2264 for more information.