Having established a theme every year since 1928, this year’s theme is focused on the Black family.
“The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity” focuses on the varied and, therefore, decidedly non-monolithic, experiences of Black families.
“The black family has been a topic of study in many disciplines—history, literature, the visual arts and film studies, sociology, anthropology, and social policy. Its representation, identity, and diversity have been reverenced, stereotyped, and vilified from the days of slavery to our own time,” the ASALH wrote of 20201′s theme.
The ASALH goes on to acknowledge that the Black family has been individually diasporic and that the unit has been the focus of arguments over how best to put the meaning of the family on display — is it matriarchal or patriarchal? Is the household headed by two parents or one? Is it focused on extended family members or the nuclear family? Are marriages part of them or is it common law? What about interracial families? Or gender norms and the impact of incarceration?
“The family offers a rich tapestry of images for exploring the African American past and present,” the ASALH said.
Going virtual for the first time with this year’s Black History Month Festival, the ASALH will host several events about the Black family including the marquee event, “Finding Our Roots in African American History: A Conversation with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham,” on Feb. 20.