As February rolls around, the world sets its sights on honoring the rich tapestry of Black history and culture. While Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, the celebration transcends borders, reaching even the most unexpected corners of the globe. One such surprising destination is Florence, Italy. Here, the city’s Renaissance past and the echoes of Black ancestry create an unforgettable experience for those interested in learning more about this global commemoration.

Florence, a city in Tuscany, is famous for its beautiful art and stunning architecture. However, a lesser-known story—the impact of the Black diaspora on this ancient city—lies beneath its towering churches and cobblestone lanes. One can discover this little-known aspect of Florence’s history by taking a trip that combines the wonders of the Renaissance with stories of Black people’s accomplishments throughout history.

Black History Sites and Community Engagement

One of the most famous art museums in Florence’s old district, the Uffizi Gallery, is a good place to begin your Black History Month celebrations. Learn about the little-known life of Alessandro de’ Medici, the first Duke of Florence of African descent. His portrait, attributed to Pontormo, is a must-see. It serves as a reminder of the Black presence in the highest echelons of Florentine society during the Renaissance.

Then, to truly grasp the significance of Black History Month in Florence, engage with the local community and participate in events that amplify Black voices and experiences. Organizations such as Black History Month Florence (BHMF), an annual cultural celebration, shed light on stories of African heritage and diasporic populations in Italy. Established in 2016, BHMF has grown into a dynamic forum for honoring the Black Florentine community’s achievements, hardships, and tenacity.

The month-long event fosters cross-cultural understanding and challenges stereotypes. This is done through art exhibitions, performances, workshops, and discussions. Since its inception, BHMF has expanded its reach. In 2018, Bologna joined the movement, launching Black History Month Bologna (BHMB). Together, these cities provide a powerful platform for dialogue, education, and empowerment.

BHMF 2024 – A Month of Cultural Exploration

The ninth edition of BHMF, taking place from February 1 to 29, 2024, promises an exciting lineup of events. Collaborating with various venues and institutions across Florence, BHMF invites locals and visitors to engage with Black culture meaningfully. 

Event Highlights

  • Exhibitions: Explore thought-provoking art installations that delve into identity, heritage, and resilience themes. 
  • Workshops and Talks: BHMF hosts Afrofuturism, storytelling, and social justice workshops. Attendees can participate in discussions by scholars, activists, and community leaders.
  • Film Screenings: Dive into cinematic narratives celebrating Black excellence and challenging stereotypes. BHMF screens films by emerging filmmakers and established directors.
  • Music and Performances: From soulful jazz to contemporary dance, BHMF showcases the beauty of Black artistic expression.