Celebrating Today’s Change Makers Presented by the
Portsmouth Museums and the Portsmouth Public Library

PORTSMOUTH, VA The Portsmouth Museums and Portsmouth Public Library are proud to present the third Annual Black History Now – Celebrating Today’s Change Makers. The museums and library branches will host events and activities from January 13th to February 24th.

This year’s highlights include musical performances from violinist Mr. Erik Taylor, Kuumba African Dance, and the Porte Towne Magic Orchestra. Master storyteller, Sheila Arnold will captivate visitors. There will also be special presentations and performances by The Hurrah Players and The Not-Just-For-February Players. Visitors will enjoy participating in workshops and forums including a Black History Expo. A Salute to African-Americans in the Military will round out the programs.

A complete schedule of events and activities is included below.



What: Erik Taylor: Sound Safari

Where: Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum

When: 12 – 1 pm

It’s a sound safari with violinist Erik Taylor. Join Mr. Taylor on a musical journey through African-American history. Mr. Taylor’s engaging high energy performance will pay tribute to the 17th – 19th century African-Americans with the traditional spirituals that were road maps to freedom.



What: Join the Bantaba

Where: Children’s Museum of Virginia / 11:30 am & 1:30 pm (included with Museum admission)

John Tyler Elementary / 3 pm (Free and open to the public)

Kuumba African Dance’s corps of percussionists and dancers will perform traditional Bantaba (dance circle) style of Guinea, West Africa.



What: The Buffalo Riders

Where: Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum (Free and open to the public)

When: 10 am

Join us as we celebrate the legacy of the Buffalo Riders, the designated African-American unit from 1866 – 1951. Meet Ken Wright, President of the Buffalo Riders of Hampton Roads as he discusses how this group of troops has impacted the local area and nationwide through his research and images.


What: Porte Towne Magic Orchestra

Where: Main Branch Library: 1 pm (Free and open to the public)

Join the fun as the Porte Town Magic Orchestra performs favorites old and new for all ages.



What: Safari – Tales of the Griot

Where: Children’s Museum of Virginia (Presentation is included with admission)

When: 11:30 am & 1:00 pm

The Hurrah Players bring vignettes from their February production, Safari – Tales of the Griot to the Children’s Museum of Virginia. Each 20 minute performance will feature songs, dances, dialogue, and costumed animal characters from the actual stage play.



What: The Not-Just-For-February Players

Where: Emanuel AME Church (Free and open to the public)

When: 10 am

Come out and celebrate Black History Month and enjoy a moment in time with The Not-Just-For February Players as they portray local African-Americans and their struggles to prosper. The program is being held in the historical Emanuel AME Church on North Street in historic Olde Towne Portsmouth. This program is sponsored by the African American Historical Society of Portsmouth.


What: Oney Judge

Where: Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum (Free and open to the public)

When: 11 am

Shelia Arnold, master storyteller will be presenting a program based on the life of Oney Judge.


What: Keepin’ Heritage Alive

Where: Portsmouth Main Library (Free and open to the public)

When: 2 pm

Shelia Arnold, master storyteller will be presenting Keepin’ Heritage Alive.



What: Neighborhood Black History Sidewalk Parade

Where: Effingham and King Streets

When: 10:30 am

Wear your favorite costume representing an African-American, past, present, local, city, state, national or international. To register contact Joyce White Tasby at 202-812-2804. Registration fees are $10.00 for an individual and $50.00 for 10 or more. The line-up begins at 10:30 am at Effingham and King Streets.


What: STEMulating Minds with Little Bits Workshop

Where: Children’s Museum of Virginia (Included with Museum admission)

When: 10 am, 1 pm & 4 pm

Let Little Bits be a spark of imagination for your young inventor while they learn a little about influential black scientists and inventors. Bits are electronic building blocks that allow inventors to make amazing things, both big and small.



What: Black History Expo

Where: Churchland Branch Library (Free and open to the public)

When: 5:30 – 7:30 pm

A choral performance by Portsmouth Public Schools with a presentation, author talk and book signing by Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander. Newby-Alexander is the author of Virginia Waterways and the Underground Railroad.



What: A Salute to African-Americans in the Military

Where: Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center (Free and open to the public)

When: 11am – 4 pm

  1. United States Colored Troops, 35th Regiment of New Bern – Tryon Palace’s United States Colored Troops, 35th Regiment of New Bern will provide living history demonstrations of African-American soldiers’ lives in the Union Army during the Civil War (1863-1865). The presentation will include raising and striking of the United States’ flag, the regimental colors, marching drills, camp songs, and demonstration of camp supplies that the 35th Regiment of New Bern, NC used after being founded in June of 1863.
  2. Marvin Greer, Yorktown Reenactor – Mr. Greer will present living history demonstrations as he recounts the American Revolutionary War as James Armistead La Fayette, an African-American spy who aided in George Washington’s and the Marquis de La Fayette’s defeat of the British at Yorktown. Mr. Greer’s presentation will feature period clothing and a black powder musket demonstration.
  3. Howard Baugh, Vietnam Pilot – Mr. Baugh will present stories, photographs, collectible items, and airplane models from his father’s days of service as a Tuskegee Airman. He will also contrast his own days of service in the United States Air Force as a pilot during the Vietnam Conflict with those of his father’s.


About Portsmouth Museums

The City of Portsmouth maintains five museums which provide the citizens of Portsmouth,
Hampton Roads, the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond with high quality educational and cultural experiences in the arts, humanities and the sciences through the use of exhibitions, programs and collections. Three museums will host many of the Black History Now events: the Children’s Museum of Virginia | 757-393-5258 | childrensmuseumvirginia.com , the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center | 757-393-8543 | portsmouthartcenter.com/event-directory and the Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum | 757-393-8591| portsvaafricanamericanheritage.com


About the Portsmouth Public Library

The Portsmouth Public Library has been a cornerstone of the Portsmouth community for over 100 years providing free access to information, resources, and resources. Portsmouth Public Library serves the community through 4 locations; Main Library, Cradock Branch, Churchland Branch, and Manor Branch. For more information call 757-393-8501 or visit portsmouthpubliclibrary.org.


About the City of Portsmouth, Virginia

The City of Portsmouth, Virginia is the geographical center of Hampton Roads located in the
southeastern corner of Virginia. Over 250 years old, the city is a true historical gem with stories and architecture dating back to the American Revolution and earlier. For more information call
757-393-8000 or visit portsmouthva.gov.