February is Black History Month, and Anne Arundel County has a number of area events planned to mark the achievements and experiences of African-Americans, both locally and throughout the nation as a whole.
Begun in 1926 as Black History Week by historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson and others, the observance was expanded in 1976 to the entire month.
* The Maryland State Archives has two exhibits planned at the Hall of Records Building, 350 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis. "In Search of Roots," which tells the story of Alex Haley's research at the archives while writing his book "Roots." The exhibit also highlights the various types of records used in researching black genealogy.
"But Now When I Look Back," a community oral history exhibit. It uses Farm Security Administration photographs taken in St. Mary's County during the 1940s, combined with recent interviews from some of the people featured in the photographs.
* Baltimore griot (storyteller) Mary Carter Smith, a native of Baltimore with roots in West Africa, performs at 9and 10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 1, at Van Bokklen Elementary School, 1140 Reece Road, Severn.
* The U.S. Naval Academy Gospel Choir performsat the Pentagon Black History Commemorative Observance at 3 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, in the Pentagon Auditorium. There will be a reception afterward in the executive dining room. Both are open to the public.
Formed in 1985, the choir has performed all over the United States.Their repertoire covers the full range of gospel music, from traditional hymns and spirituals to the contemporary sounds of Edwin Hawkins, the Winans, and others. The group also sings pop, folk, and classical music.
* Master storyteller Len Cabral also kicks off the monthwhen he returns to share his stories of Africa and the West Indies, as well as traditional American folk tales at two branches of the Anne Arundel County Public Library.
Hundreds of people attended his performances last year.
Cabral's program includes mime, poetry, song and audience participation.
The event will begin 7 p.m. Friday at the Eastport-Annapolis Neck branch, 269 Hillsmere Drive, and Saturday at the Provinces branch, in the Severn Square Shopping Center, Route 175 and Ridge Road in Severn.
Originally from Providence, R.I.,Cabral first became interested in these traditional stories by listening to the tales of his great-grandparents, who came from the Cape Verde Islands.
He is an artist-in-residence for the Rhode Island State Arts Council, and co-founder of Sidewalk Storytellers, a children's theater company.
Cabral also belongs to the Spellbinders, the Rhode Island Storytellers Collective.
Over the years, Cabral has collected a wide range of stories from Alabama to Africa. He has performed them in schools, libraries, nursing homes, festivals, summer camps and community centers throughout New England.
Cabral also conducts creative drama workshops for teachers and students.
No advance registration is required for the free 45-minute program. Ages 6 to adult are invited.
* The Unity Club of Annapolis Senior High has a month-long series of special events planned to promote cultural awareness, self-esteem, ethnic pride and sensitivity to the black experience. All activities will take place between 2:30 and 3:40 p.m. in an English department classroom.
Friday, Feb.1 -- Pantherama, a weekly news show produced at the school for the students.
Tuesday, Feb. 5 -- "Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed," a film.
Wednesday, Feb. 6 -- "Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed."
Thursday, Feb. 7 -- "The Importance of Preserving Our Heritage." Speaker: Bernadette Pruitt of the Banneker/Douglas Museum.
Wednesday, Feb. 13 -- "Eyes On The Prize," a video.
Thursday, Feb. 14 -- "The Civil Rights Movement." Speaker: Carl O. Snowden, Annapolis City Alderman.
Tuesday, Feb. 19 -- "Overview of Black Theater/Drama." Speaker: Mr. Ted Cooper, professor at Howard University.
Wednesday, Feb. 20 -- "Eyes On The Prize."
Thursday, Feb. 21 -- "Overview of African-American Literature." Speaker Vivian Gist, associate professor, Anne Arundel Community College.
Saturday, Feb. 23 --"Cornucopia of Color," 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the school auditorium. Students perform skits, dramatic interpretations, gospel choir, dance,and fashion show.
Tuesday, Feb. 26 -- "Achievement/Overcoming Obstacles." Speaker: State Representative Dr. Aris T. Allen, R-District 30.
* "Gospel Songfest," featuring the Singing Shepards at 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 10, at the Pascal Center for the Performing Arts, Anne Arundel Community College, 101 College Parkway, Arnold. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for AACC students only.
* Black residents of Anne Arundel County who work in the information industry will be interested to learn that the Black Data Processing Associates Baltimore Chapter is sponsoring a seminar on Database Administration at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the Park Circle Business Center, 2901 Druid Park Drive.