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Looking for ways to honor Black History Month? Here’s a rundown of events throughout Iowa and Illinois. You can also find our monthly Best Bets for progressive events in the areas of spirituality, spoken word, personal development, LGBTQ-oriented events, and women-focused events throughout February. This list is compiled by Cheryl Weatherford and Christine Hawes.

Sat.– Sun. Feb. 8-9, Black Arts & Music Festival,  Artistic and cultural contributions of African and African American visual/performing artists. 10am-4:30pm, Ames Public Library, 515 Douglas Ave, Ames IA

Sat., Feb. 8 and every Saturday through February: Black History Month Family Storytime. A different guest reader every session; bring stuffed animals Feb. 8.  10:30 am, Waterloo Public Library, 415 Commercial St., Waterloo IA 

Tues. Feb. 11, Who Was? A StorytimeCollaborative story time about  African American historical and contemporary figures. 11am-12pm, Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 5th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids IA

Sun. Feb. 16, Buxton; A Black Utopia in Iowa?, West Des Moines Library Friends Foundation and the Iowa Arts Council presentation. 2:30-3:30 pm, West Des Moines Public Library, 4000 Mills Civic Pkwy, West Des Moines IA

Mon. Feb. 17, African American Flutist “Galen”, Jazz music accompanied with the history of how Black Americans influenced Jazz.12:30pm,Clinton Community College, 1000 Lincoln Blvd, Clinton IA


Thurs. Feb. 20,  From the Civil Rights Movement to Iowa City, Tisch Jones on her personal journey as a black girl coming to Iowa City in 1964, the year of the passing of the Civil Rights Act. Based on a chapter from her memoir in progress, I’m No Accident. 9-10:30 pm, Iowa City Senior Center, 28 S. Linn St, Iowa City IA

Fri. Feb. 21, Black History Trivia, Featuring  historical moments in African American History.  6:30-8:30 pm, Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center, 220 S Gilbert St, Iowa City IA

Mon. Feb. 24, Unconditional Loyalty: A Black History Month Presentation, History of African American service people in the United States military from the Revolutionary War to the present. 6:30– 7:30pm, Marion Public Library, 1095 6th Ave, Marion IA 

Thurs. Feb. 27, African American Children and Families Conference,  Lauded conference promoting a strength-based approach to children and families. University of Northern Iowa, 1227 W 27th St, Cedar Falls IA

Tues and Wed, Feb. 8-9, The Second City’s Black History Month Show. Every Tuesday and Wednesday through February plus Sat., Feb. 29. Improv specialists recreate iconic sketches ever created by  alumni like Steve Carell, Keegan-Michael Key, Tim Meadows, Stephen Colbert, Amber Ruffin and Sam Richardson. $10, 8 pm every Tuesday and Wednesday, plus Sat., Feb. 29 UP Comedy Club, 230 W North Ave, Chicago IL

Other Events


Fri., Feb. 7 and every Friday: HOPE Initiative teen gathering. Teen-led program for grades 6 to 12 featuring social and educational events to support the LGBTQ community. 3:45-4:30 pm, Alive Center, 500 W 5th Ave, Naperville IL


SatSat. Feb. 8, Q-munity Yoga for LGBTQ Community, Self-care while practicing all-levels, life affirming yoga with other queer, radical, gender creative, and otherwise non-conforming folk. 11am-12:15pm, $5-$15, Heartland Yoga, 221 E College St # 213, Iowa City IA 

Sat. Feb. 22, 8th Annual LGBTQ Health & Wellness Conference, Interactive workshops on the health inequities and disparities of LGBTQ Iowans. 9am-5pm, Des Moines University Student Education Center, 3300 Grand Ave, Des Moines IA

Sat. Feb. 22, LGBTQ Youth Center Winter Luncheon, 11am-1pm, $20, First Congregational-UCC Cedar Rapids, 361 17th St SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52403, Cedar Rapids IA

Sat., Feb. 29, Clock Inc. All-Inclusive 21+ LGBT+ Social. Meet LGBT+ people throughout the Quad Cities with snacks and interactive games. BYOB, no glass bottles or hard alcohol. 7-10 pm, Clock Inc., 321 24th St., Rock Island IL

Sat. Mar. 7, Vogue 2020 Pride Gala & Awards Ceremony, Dinner and entertainment to strengthen and promote central Iowa’s LGBTQ+ community. 6-10pm, $64-$265, The River Center, 340 SW 3rd St. Des Moines IA

Sat. Mar. 7, Drag Brunch, Hosted by the Stinketta Beaverhausen and featuring four other ladies.  2 seatings, 1 buffet. 10:30am-3pm, $30-$45, Noce, 1326 Walnut St, Des Moines IA 


Mon. Feb. 17, Women’s Think SAFE Self-Defense Seminar: Level 2. Awareness, defensive positions, and how to defend against common attacks on the ground, prevention strategies and how to deal with the physical and psychological effects of a violent encounter. 6:15-7:15pm, $99, Triumph Martial Arts: Clive, 2023 Northwest 92nd Ct, Clive IA


Sat. Feb. 22, Women on Adventures Snow TUBING/ZIPFY/STIGA COMBO, 11am-2pm, $35, Sleepy Hollow Sports Park, 4051 Dean Ave, Des Moines, IA


Sat. Feb.29, Live Audience Reading with Psychic/Medium Kelli Miller,  A focus on life and the afterlife. 7-10pm, $40, Holiday Inn West Des Moines-Jordan Creek, 6075 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines, IA  

Mon. Feb. 10, Guided Ecospiritual Experience at Prairiewoods: Winter Wisdom, Connect with each other, plants and animals. Dress for outdoor weather. 2:30pm, $5,  Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, 120 Boyson Rd, Hiawatha, IA

Fri.-Sat. Feb. 21-22, Fireborn Alchemy Readings, Raga returns to give Spirit Painting Readings.  11am-2pm, $35 for a half hour reading and  take-home water color interpretation, The Broom Closet, 1110-B Agency Street, Burlington IA 

Sat. and Sun., March 7-8, Body Mind Spirit Expo. Featuring 120 vendors, 72 seminars, and 50 psychics & healers on topics such as natural health, personal growth, and metaphysics.  $14,  Midwest Conference Center, 401 W Lake St, Frnt 1, Northlake IL


Tues. Feb. 18, February Poetry Slam, 7pm, Java Joes CoffeeHouse, 214 4th St, Des Moines IA


Fri. Feb. 21, Syed Umar Warsi, Amir Safi, and Amal Kassir, “An evening of spoken word poetry.” 7:30 pm, $10-$25, Hancher Auditorium, 141 Park Rd, Iowa City IA

Tues., Feb. 4 and March 3, OUTSpoken LGBTQ Storytelling at The Sidetrack. Monthly storytelling event celebrating uniquely personal stories from across the LGBTQ community. 7 pm, Sidetrack the Video Bar, 3349 N. Halsted St, Chicago IL 


Wed., Feb. 26, and every last Wednesday: Bowling with the River City Bears charitable group.6:30 pm, Landmark Lanes, 3225 N. Dries Lane, Peoria IL

Fri.- Sun. Mar. 6-8, Papa Bear Presents: SASH BASH Weekend 2020. Celebrate, socialize and bring kink to the Eastern Iowa area. Featuring welcome party, educational workshops, and more. 5 pm Friday – 2 pm Sunday, $30, Studio 13, 13 S. Linn St., Iowa City IA 


Thurs. Feb. 6, Red & Blue Food & Brew, Nonpartisan gathering to find common ground. 6-9 pm, $25, Big Grove Brewery, 1225 S Gilbert St, Iowa City IA

Mon., Feb. 17 and monthly. Playhouse Pals. Group gathering for children ages 6 to 8 with Down’s Syndrome to build social skills, language and motor skills. Gigi’s Playhouse Fox Valley, 4024 Fox Valley Center Dr., Aurora IL

 Thurs. Feb. 20, 23rd Annual DVIP “Souper Bowl”, All-you-care-to-eat soup supper with 40+ soups donated from area restaurants. Proceeds benefitDomestic Violence Intervention Program. 5:30-7:30pm, $15-$25, Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 300 East 9th St., Coralville IA