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A vibrant, diverse and thoughtful Black History Month lies ahead for Iowa and Illinois, with the COVID-driven trend of going virtual leading to a variety of “thinking” events as well as musical and artistic showcases.

We highlight some of the most intriguing offerings in the latest TRM Calendar update. In addition, learn about one of the biggest Farm Sanctuary events of the year gone virtual and nationwide, plus several LGBTQ-identified events that raise money, awareness, or both; or help generate understanding.

Here’s a rundown of a few top picks throughout February:

• You’ll find several showings online of the documentary film “Thirteenth.” One of your first chances is Tuesday evening. This film by Ava Duvernay is named after the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, that abolished slavery in 1865. The film “is a primer on the historical context behind mass incarceration, the war on drugs, private prisons, and police brutality that are baked into the post-Jim Crow American system,” writes the Central Arkansas Library System, which is showing the film Tuesday.

• Also Tuesday, you can join Uniting Pride Champaign County and several Black community leaders for a discussion of Black mental health that will take place every Tuesday during Black History Month.

• Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey holds four performances this month from Iowa City to Council Bluffs. Rainey is a University of Iowa graduate, author of two books of poetry, and a spoken word champion. Check out the schedule to learn about his performances and readings on Feb. 4, 8, 26 and 28.


• Next week, on Feb. 9, join Mariano’s in Chicago for an online meet-up with Chef Brian Jupiter.

• The Chicago Children’s Choir livestreams its Black History Month concert for the first time this year, with the theme of “Preserving and Persevering.” Enjoy this free event Feb. 25.

• Learn all about braiding in this “Black Hairstory” online special event hosted by Carbondale United and the Carbondale Public Library in Illinois, on Feb. 18.

• Check out more than a dozen other Black History Month events already up on the TRM Calendar, with more to be added throughout the month.

• Highlights for LGBTQ-themed events so far this month include two drag shows on Feb. 6 (one in Dubuque and one in Des Moines); a chance to celebrate the donation of nonperishable food products and period supplies to The Clock Inc., LGBTQ community center in Rock Island, Ill.; and the Trans Youth & Family Summit for LGBTQ Illinoisans Feb. 25.

• You can also join the virtual Farm Sanctuary Tour, visiting 10 different farm sanctuaries throughout the country. During this virtual tour on Valentine’s Day, Farm Sanctuary commits to matching donations up to $1,000.

For more events throughout all of February, see the TRM Calendar page. To submit your calendar events, email them to