black history month

Lives Here



February is Black History Month. It is the annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of Blacks in the United States. Launched by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926, it was first called Negro History Week and hosted the second week of February. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially designated February as Black History Month.

The Grizzlies celebrate Black History Month through several community initiatives, social highlights, and in-game entertainment. Join us as we learn, reflect, and celebrate Black History and Culture in Memphis and the Mid South.


February Games

return back February 2025 to participate in Black History Month

6th Annual

HBCU Empowerment Awards

presented by Pinnacle Bank

The Memphis Grizzlies are proud to celebrate Historically Black Colleges and Universities this Black History Month. HBCUs have been a powerful source of education and pride for African American communities for over century and Memphis is home to one of the oldest Historically Black Colleges, LeMoyne-Owen College. In partnership with Pinnacle Financial Partners, we will honor the vital role these Universities have played to shape generations past, present, and future.

Dominique Primer

Honored February 1, 2024

Erik Henneghan

Honored February 2, 2024

Dr. Jason Lawrence Turner

Honored February 8, 2024

Tutonial 'Toni' Williams

Honored February 12, 2024

Glenn Sessoms

Honored February 14, 2024

Jamond Bullock

Honored February 15, 2024

Kelvin Gates

Honored February 23, 2024

Shantelle Leatherwood

Honored February 26, 2024

Ena Esco Cole

Honored February 1, 2023

Jozelle Luster Booker

Honored February 5, 2023

Sam O'Bryant III

Honored February 7, 2023

Sunya Payne

Honored February 10, 2023

Anthony Branch

Honored February 15, 2023

Arlinda Fair Cathey

Honored February 25, 2023

Bridget D. Sisney

Honored February 28, 2023


Black Art Installations

at FedExForum

See curated art from seven black artist who are changing the landscape of visual arts in Memphis - featured in FedExForum throughout Black History Month.

Locations: Terrace Level (Sections 226-229) & Plaza Level (116/117A).


Magnifying Memphis

29 Days of Black History

Representing the 29 days in February, this calendar features 29 facts that speak to the City of Memphis, Memphis Grizzlies, and the NBA. Curated with the support of the Memphis Public Library and Facing History & Ourselves, these facts will highlight Black Historians from our community and beyond.


Maxine (Atkins) Smith is known as The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis and was the first African American elected to the Memphis Board of Education. She was known for her leadership in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and her involvement with educational planning at both the local and state levels in Tennessee, enabled her to support the American Civil Rights Movement and advance school desegregation.


The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery is a museum located in Memphis that displays some of the key moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Named after Dr. Ernest C. Withers, he captured as many as 1.8 million images of American history. It houses great shots of legendary blues, jazz, and soul legends like B.B. King and Aretha Franklin.


Established in 1956, Royal Studios is a recording studio in Memphis, one of the oldest continuously operated music recording studios in the world. It is widely known for its producer, recording artist and owner, Willie Mitchell, and notable productions of Al Green, Ike & Tina Turner, and Anthony Hamiliton.


Located in Memphis, Tennessee the Mason Temple is the largest church owned and operated by African Americans in the United States. The church has been named to the new, multi-state U.S. Civil Rights Trail, along with Clayborn Temple, the Lorraine Motel, and other notable sites.


Ida B. Wells was a journalist, teacher, and a leader in the Civil Right Movement. She was one of four founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and became part-owner of the Memphis Free Speech, crusading against lynching in Memphis and the South. She dedicated her life to combating prejudice and violence and advocating for African American equality especially that of women.


Fisk Jubilee Singers are an African American a cappella ensemble, consisting of students at Fisk University. The first group was organized in 1871 to tour and raise funds for college. They also toured along the Underground Railroad path in the United States. They are instrumental in preserving the American musical tradition known today as Black spirituals.


Born in Memphis, Marjorie Lee Brown became the first African American women to receive a PhD in mathematics. As a graduate from Howard University majoring in Mathematics, it opened opportunities for future students to receive higher education in Mathematics. She now has a scholarship in her honor at North Carolina Central for students majoring in math.


In the 1960s, Wilma Glodean Rudolph was acclaimed the fastest woman in the world and the first female athlete to win three gold medals in a single Olympic game.


Miriam DeCosta Willis was an American educator, writer and civil rights activist, who was the first African American faculty member at Memphis State University in 1966.


Dr. R.H. Tate was the very first African American doctor to practice in Memphis. Dr. Tate was one of seven doctors recruited by the Howard Association to care for Memphis’ yellow fever victims in 1878.


In 1951, John H. Sengstacke founded the Tri-State Defender which is a weekly African American newspaper that serves Memphis, Tennessee and nearby areas of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. It’s “The Mid-South’s Best Alternate Newspaper”.


Born in Memphis, Krik Whalum is an American R&B and smooth jazz saxophonist and songwriter. He toured with Whitney Houston for more than seven years and soloed on her single "I Will Always Love You", the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. In addition to his music, Kirk Whalum has always had a passion to educate young musicians and is currently a professor at Visible Music College back in his hometown, Memphis, TN.


The Burkle Estate, also known as the Slave Haven, was in Memphis, Tennessee and was a part of the Underground Railroad- a secret network of way stations to help slaves escape to freedom in the northern states.


Ernest C. Withers was an African American photojournalist, raised in Memphis, who documented over 60 years of African- American history throughout the segregated Southern United States. Some of his iconic images captured the Montgomery bus boycott, Emmett Till, Memphis sanitation strike, Negro league baseball, and musicians related to Memphis blues and Memphis soul.


Tom Lee Park is a located in Memphis, Tennessee named after Tom Lee, an African American river worker, who saved the lives of 32 passengers of the sinking steamboat M.E. Norman in 1925.


William Christopher Handy was known as the “Father of the Blues.” The W.C. Handy Home and Museum is located on Beale Street and features photos, memorabilia, and artifacts such as the desk at which W.C. Handy wrote many of his most famous songs, like "The Memphis Blues," "St. Louis Blues," and "Beale Street Blues.


Originally named Shelby County Negro State Park, T.O. Fuller State Park was the first state park that opened for African Americans in Memphis, Tennessee in 1938. It was later changed to T.O. Fuller State Park in 1942 to honor Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, a prominent African American educator, pastor, politician, civic leader, and author, who spent his life empowering and educating African Americans.


The Universal Life Insurance Building, located on Beale Street, was designed by African American architecture firm McKissack & McKissack of Nashville. Built in 1949, it is a testament to the drive and resilience of community leaders during times of extreme racial prejudice and systemic barriers to economic mobility, and an enduring commitment to community and shared prosperity.


Tennessee State University is a Historically Black University in Nashville, Tennessee founded in 1912 and is the only state funded Historically Black University in Tennessee. Tennessee State is a member school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.


Founded In 1876, Meharry Medical College is an HBCU in Tennessee that offers medical, dental, and graduate programs. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest historically Black academic health science centers dedicated to educating physicians, dentists, researchers, and health policy experts.


In 1968, LeMoyne-Owen College was founded as a private Historical Black College affiliated with the United Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee and is the only HBCU in Memphis.


Born and raised in Memphis, Carla Thomas is an American singer, who is often referred to as the Queen of Memphis Soul. Known for her 1960s recordings for Atlantic and Stax including the hits "Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)" (1960), "B-A-B-Y".


Pastor Al Green is an American singer, songwriter, pastor, and record best known for recording a series of hit singles in the early 1970s, including “Take Me to the River”.


Built in 1902, The Old Daisy served as a popular venue for African- American performers on the “Chitlin Circuit” from the 1930s to the 1960s.


The historic Clayborn Temple, formerly Second Presbyterian Church, served as the headquarters for the 1968 Sanitation Workers’ Strike after two garbage collectors were crushed to death on the job. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic places.


In 1866, Fisk University was founded as a historical Black liberal arts college. In 1930, Fisk became the first historically Black institution to gain accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Fisk University is the oldest institution for higher education in Nashville, TN.


In 1882, Lane College was founded by one of the nation’s first Black church denominations, and religion continues to play a key role on the college’s campus today. Located in Jackson, Tennessee, Lane College offers associate and baccalaureate degrees.


In 1959, the Memphis State 8: Bertha Mae Rogers, Rose Blakney, Marvis Kneeland Jones, Luther McClellan, John Simpson, Ralph Prater, Eleanor Gandy and Sammie Burnett were the first African Americans to integrate Memphis State which is now the University of Memphis.


Booker T. Washington High School, originally founded as the Clay Street School in 1873, was one of the first public high schools for African Americans in Memphis. In 1926, the school was renamed in honor of American educator and civil rights leader Booker T. Washington.