Black history is American history. But the Black experience is (and has always been) global, and Metro Denver is home to a diverse set of Black communities with roots outside of the United States—especially the Caribbean and African continent. If you want to up your history goals, here are a few ways to celebrate the last weekend of Black History Month around the Mile High City with a pan-African twist.
Friday, February 26
Evening: Slam Nuba & Ethiopian Eats
Start the weekend sitting virtual front row at the next Slam Nuba, a monthly performance poetry event that features renowned poets and storytellers from across the country, many of whom call Denver home. Slam Nuba began back in 2007, with Colorado Poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre and Slammaster Suzi Q. Smith among its earliest members. Now the current collective—based at RedLine Contemporary Art Center—continues to promote the power of poetry and literary engagement in marginalized communities, and will dedicate the final Friday of Black History Month to a double feature with Denver’s own Artsy Q and Baltimore-based Ephraim Nehemiah. Free; Show starts at 6:30 p.m. (via Zoom). Register via Redline or Eventbrite.
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After the show, pay homage to the Horn of Africa by indulging your eyes and taste buds on the fabulousness that is Ethiopian cuisine. Luckily, Denver is home to a vibrant Ethiopian community that has blessed us with a number of authentic, tasty, and conveniently located options, like Axum Restaurant on East Colfax (5280 Editor’s Choice pick for Top of the Town in 2019) and Konjo Ethiopian Food at Edgewater Public Market for those nearer the westside. (You can also find Konjo’s food truck schedule via Instagram.) Ethiopian food is well suited for communal enjoyment, but if you’re flying COVID-solo, don’t deny yourself the richness of these vegetarian-friendly stews, colorful curries, marinated meats (called tibs), and of course the spongy wonder, injera bread. The flavors are as deep as this African culture is ancient.
Saturday, February 27
Morning: Yoga with Urban Sanctuary
A thriving Black wellness movement is keen on removing barriers that prevent Black folks from accessing holistic practices like yoga—and some local yogis are innovating in the space, addressing the harm structural racism does to Black bodies via trauma-informed yoga. Urban Sanctuary offers weekly yoga classes, in-person and online, to all those who seek to channel their divine and tap into their sacred. The Dig Deep Power Yoga session begins at 7:30 a.m. (online only), which is followed by Tarot & Flow (available online and in-person, with a five-person maximum), a session guided by tarot readings. Dismantling the systems that perpetuate white privilege and implicit bias is soul-wrenching work, but this replenishment of peace and serenity will sustain you. Space is limited though, so pre-registration is required. 2745 Welton St.
Afternoon: Sip at Whittier Cafe
Find refreshment at Whittier Cafe, the community stronghold in the heart of historic Black Denver. You will find a selection of Ethiopian, Kenyan, and South African beer and wine, along with coffee roasted from beans from across the African continent. Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; 1710 E. 25th Ave.
Evening: Zanele Muholi – Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness at the Center for Visual Art
Ponder the brilliance of Zanele Muholi – Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness, a solo exhibition of self-portraits by the famed South African photographer that offers a dialectic about the personal politics of race and representation, challenging the viewer with thought-provoking images that intersect Blackness, queerness, and South African identity. Showing Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Center for Visual Art, you can make it a late afternoon or early evening outing. 965 Santa Fe Dr.
Sunday, February 28
Morning: Herbal Offerings from Premyé
Rootwork and folk magic in Black communities harken back to African religious traditions brought to the Americas via the Middle Passage. Herbal artist and Brooklynite-turned-Denverite, Kim Cherubin is serving urban magic with a twist via herbs and teas at Premyé, which means “first” in Haitian Creole. Premyé’s motto, “make time, take space,” centers self-care for the mind, body, and spirit as community work, providing herbal teas, incense, customized herb-blending services, and readymade self-care kits (via their Community Care Allyship Project), from which a portion of proceeds support local individuals and nonprofits advocating for marginalized communities in Denver. Due to COVID-19, Cherubin is currently serving it up remotely, sending orders by mail each Friday.
Afternoon: Brunch with Chef Dave Hadley
Enjoy a samosa—yes, a samosa—courtesy of Denver’s resident Food Network Chopped champion, chef Dave Hadley. The New Jersey native melds his Caribbean and South Asian roots into the perfect pockets of culinary good, and his pop-up concept, Samosa Shop, takes its inspiration from Hadley’s moods as much as from the flavors he grew up on in India and St. Vincent. Leave your lonely COVID-19 island and head to BRNCH MRKT hosted at Tessa Delicatessen in Park Hill, where Hadley’s will be one star in a constellation of vendors curing your brunch cravings. You can also subscribe to Hadley’s secret samosa club and place bulk orders online. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m; Tessa Delicatessen, 5724 E. Colfax Ave.
Afternoon: Shop Local
Upgrade your style game at Lawrence + Larimer Clothing & Supply Co., a Black-owned clothier featuring creative apparel emblazoned with Black historical references and cultural touchpoints. The shop, located in the Bluebird district on Colfax Avenue, offers an array of T-shirts, sweaters, and outerwear celebrating the Black experience, here and abroad. A Colorado favorite is the Winks Lodge hoodie, a stylish nod to the Gilpin County resort that made mountain leisure possible for Black tourists and Front Range communities during the early- and mid-20th century. Other swag and services include custom screen printing, an online marketplace to purchase photographic prints from Denver BIPOC photographers, and a line of candles called Candles With Attitudes (The “Wake Up” candle is inspired by Spike Lee’s film, School Daze, and implores folks to stay woke and pay attention.) If you can’t make it Sunday, don’t worry, they’re open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 3225 E. Colfax Ave.