Black History Museum celebrates 10th anniversary, plus more local fests and fun

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Black History Museum 10th Anniversary

Oct. 19. Tours, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Black History Museum, 1620 W. Bijou St.; party 6-8:30 p.m., Knights of Columbus Hall, 25 W. Kiowa St., $20-$25, ourwestside.org/partners/aahgscs

The city of Colorado Springs is packed with innovative museums devoted to education and history — sometimes discovered in unexpected places. The Black History Museum can be found in one such spot, neatly ensconced in the Westside Community Center, where it has spent 10 years sharing the incredible contributions made by black Americans to the growth and success of Colorado and the Pikes Peak region. This weekend, they’re inviting the community to two events to celebrate their anniversary and create awareness about their mission.

While the museum has been in its current location for a decade, founder Candice McKnight and the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society of Colorado Springs (AAHGSCS) have been curating the collection for far longer. The society, as it exists today, was once two entities — the Negro Historical Society founded in 1981 and the Genealogical Society founded in 2000. In 2006, they merged a combined 38 years of experience into the AAHGS.

“It is so important to keep our history alive,” says McKnight. “We cannot let it die out over time.” McKnight and other volunteers lead workshops on genealogy in the community to help people learn about their family history. McKnight says that genealogy and history go hand-in-hand and both are necessary to create a real picture of someone’s ancestry.



The first part of the anniversary celebration is an open house with tours, led by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic McKnight. While the museum is not large, it manages to pack a lot of information into a space that was once, quite fittingly, a classroom. McKnight says the museum has more than 2,000 books devoted to black history, in addition to many other displays.

“I am so passionate about genealogy and history,” says McKnight. “I am very serious about what I do and the purpose it serves.”

One display is centered on Colorado Springs’ police officers, including Ron Stallworth, the black officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the ’70s. The contributions of Colorado Springs black firemen are featured as well. Other displays tout the accomplishments of black pioneers like the Buffalo Soldiers, an all-black military regiment that was instrumental in settling the new frontier, and the Tuskegee Airmen, the country’s first black aviators, credited with flying more than 15,000 sorties in World War II.

In the evening, guests will be treated to a party complete with food and wine at Knights of Columbus Hall near the Penrose Library downtown. KKTV’s James Brown will be the guest DJ, and booths dedicated to history and genealogy will be set up for attendees to ask questions. Proceeds benefit the museum and the AAHGSCS.



Visitors who cannot attend the event can visit the museum Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment on Mondays and Fridays.

Arcadia

Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m., dates and times vary through Oct. 27, Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., $20-$47, uccspresents.org

Interweaving two different timelines, one static set and a whole lot of science, Arcadia creates a dynamic story that envelops the viewer in a world of dichotomy — and parallels. In the past, precocious teen genius Thomasina ponders chaos theory and thermodynamics while bantering with her tutor. In the present, a group of scholars works to solve the mystery of the hermit of Sidley Park. Part comedy and part tragedy, with a bit of love thrown in for good measure, Arcadia offers a unique, engaging theater experience. And if all that doesn’t sway you, maybe the content advisory will seal the deal: “occasional British swearing, attraction, offstage duels, rabbit pistols, and lots of math.”

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Culture Fest

Oct. 18, 5:30-8 p.m. Cheyenne Mountain Library, 1785 S. Eighth St., ppld.org

One of the coolest things about living in a land of many cultures is getting to experience the differences that make us all unique. The Cheyenne Mountain Library welcomes the community to a celebration of the diversity of the Pikes Peak region. The evening will open with a chance to sample foods and beverages from other countries. After that, the vibrant, colorful Ballet Folklorico de Barajas will perform traditional Mexican dance. A table offering henna art and craft projects will be open throughout the event. At the close of the evening, attendees will hear immigration stories from the library district’s adult education students.

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Peak Environment Podfest

Oct. 19, noon to 4 p.m., Stargazers Theatre and Event Center, 10 S. Parkside Drive, free, studio809radio.com

The Colorado Springs community is growing rapidly, creating concerns around the city’s environmental future. Local podcast collective Studio 809 is hosting three panel discussions on relevant topics, including groundwater contamination, supporting local food, and the city’s energy future. Sen. Pete Lee will be in attendance as a moderator for the discussion on groundwater contaminants found throughout the region. All three panels will be recorded and shared online. Settle in for a powerful discussion on the environmental future of Colorado Springs.

NAMI Community Night

Oct. 23, 4-7 p.m. NAMI Colorado Springs, 1615 S. Murray Blvd., free, namicoloradosprings.org
Local nonprofit National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that one in five people will face a mental illness in their lifetime. It’s important for those who are struggling — and the people who love them — to know where they can find support when times are tough. Join the NAMI crew for an informal, friendly community night filled with good food, fall festivities and great music. You’ll meet some of NAMI’s partners in community wellness and learn about the resources available for those struggling with mental illness. While you’re there, you can also check out their new space.

Editor's note: The Peak Environment Podfest blurb has been updated to exclude a line about food, which will be available at the theater. We regret the error.

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