You may know that famed folk artist Elijah Pierce lived in Columbus. But my favorite part of the story is the lesser-known fact of why he came here.
Pierce met Cornelia Houeston in Illinois, but his lady love was a Columbus native. When she moved back here in 1923, Pierce followed his heart to Ohio's capital city. They soon married and Pierce started a career as a preacher and barber, which included a shop on Long Street.
The story goes that Pierce carved Houeston an elephant for her birthday and she encouraged him to keep carving-a muse of enthusiasm. Soon, he was creating pieces for the sermons he preached or to represent Bible stories in addition to works that told the African-American plight of the early 20th century, he himself the son of a former slave.
Pierce's legacy is a high point of Columbus-not to mention American-history, and you can view some of his most famous works at the Columbus Museum of Art or Keny Galleries.
He's also the subject of CATCO's upcoming performance of Pierce to the Soul, written by Columbusite Chiquita Mullins Lee. Although the play doesn't premiere until April, the theater company is holding three free workshops where the public can discuss the play and Lee's research and writing process, as well as hear an excerpt performed. Those will be held: Feb. 16 at the King Arts Complex at 7 pm; Feb. 21 at the Columbus Museum of Art at 2 pm, and March 3 at the Riffe Center at 7 pm.
Other noteworthy Columbus events this month celebrating the accomplishments and culture of African-Americans include the following:
The King Arts Complex is presenting DanceAfrica: Columbus on Feb. 20. At 7 pm, performers will take the Pythian Theater stage with works of magic and dance that showcase African rhythm and culture-from indigenous beats to American hip-hop. Keeping with DanceAfrica tradition, a New York-based event founded in 1978, the complex will have a bazaar of African crafts and goods as well.
Film fans, historians and politicos will all be interested in the Black History Month Documentary Series, presented by Ohio State's Department of African-American and Africa Studies Community Extension Center. Each film, shown at 6:30 pm in the AAAS Community Extension Center (905 Mt. Vernon Ave.) is followed by a discussion. Coming up: On Feb. 11, Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed, a film about Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and a discussion led by Columbus City Council's Charleta Tavares; on Feb. 18, The Rebirth of a Nation: A Documentary about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and on Feb. 28, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Why I oppose the War in Vietnam.
Contact assistant editor Jackie Mantey at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter here.