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Black History Month in
Philadelphia 2018

Special tours, film screenings, performances and so much more

The city of Philadelphia recognizes and reflects on the role that African-Americans played — and continue to play — in the history of our nation all year long, and Black History Month inspires even more celebration across the region.

During February, many of Philadelphia's beloved institutions will hold special events, film screenings, discussions and exhibits that highlight the incredible lives and contributions of African-Americans like Maya Angelou, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Octavius V. Catto, Henry "Box" Brown and Harriet Tubman.

Read on for our guide to the museum exhibits, interactive tours, film screenings, illustrated lectures, live performances and more happening all around Philadelphia during Black History Month.

Note: The list below is in chronological order, starting with ongoing events.


Black History Month at the Free Library of Philadelphia

The exterior of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The Free Library of Philadelphia has a full schedule of programming during Black History Month. (Photo courtesy Free Library of Philadelphia)

January 31-February 28, 2018

A lecture on the Harlem Renaissance, a conversation with author Brittney Cooper about her book Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower, a screening of the film Paul Robeson and more exciting events are lined up for Black History Month at public libraries across Philadelphia. For a complete list of events, see the calendar here.

more about Black History Month at the free library of philadelphia

Black History Month at the National Constitution Center

Family viewing an exhibit at the National Constitution Center.

Learn more about important moments in African-American history during interactive shows and tours at the National Constitution Center. (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)

February 2018

At the National Constitution Center, interactive programming highlights important moments in African-American history. Self-guided tours showcase the many rare artifacts on display, including the signed Emancipation Proclamation and items from former President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

more about Black History Month at National Constitution Center

Black History Month at the Penn Museum

Family at the Penn Museum.

At the Penn Museum, learn more about African traditions during an interactive Celebration of African Cultures. (Photo by Visit Philadelphia)

February 2018

The Penn Museum’s vast collection of African sculpture, masks, textiles and other objects make it an excellent destination for Black History Month. On February 24, the museum will hold its annual Celebration of African Cultures, where visitors can take part in an interactive tour of African traditions led through the Africa Gallery by local storytellers and artisans.

more about Black History Month at the Penn Museum

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sculptures Around the City

Through February 2018

Nine large sculptures, designed in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and incorporating quotes from King as creative inspiration, are on display throughout Philadelphia through the end of February. The sculptures — created by more than 50 students — are located at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Betsy Ross House, City Hall, the Comcast Center Plaza, the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Philadelphia School District Main Building and Temple University.

more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sculptures

Taking a Stand for Equality: Octavius V. Catto at the Philadelphia History Museum

The exhibit Taking a Stand for Equality: Octavius V. Catto inside the Philadelphia History Museum.

Immerse yourself in the life of Octavius V. Catto at the Philadelphia History Museum. (Photo courtesy Philadelphia History Museum)

Through Saturday, March 31, 2018

Octavius V. Catto’s legacy of activism is honored in this exhibition at the Philadelphia History Museum. Artifacts, documents and images recording Catto’s fight for equal access to education, public transportation, voting rights and full citizenship for African-Americans will be on display. For more tributes to Catto, stop in to the museum's gallery to watch the film Catto: A Legacy for the 21st Century or head to City Hall to see his memorial sculpture, the first to be positioned at City Hall since 1923.

more about Taking a Stand for Equality

Black Pulp! at the African American Museum in Philadelphia

Exterior of African American Museum of Philadelphia

Black Pulp!, a new exhibit that explores how printed media depicts the Black experience, debuts during Black History Month at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. (Photo by A. Ricketts for Visit Philadelphia)

February 2-April 29, 2018

The African American Museum in Philadelphia debuts Black Pulp!, a visual overview of the Black experience that spans from the early twentieth-century America to today. While there, visitors should also check out the permanent display entitled Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776-1876, an exhibit that tells the stories of early black Philadelphians that shaped the region's history.

more about Black Pulp!

Henry "Box" Brown: A Hip Hop Musical

The interior of the New Freedom Theatre.

Experience a brand new hip-hop musical at the New Freedom Theatre this February. (Photo courtesy the New Freedom Theatre)

February 1-18, 2018

Henry "Box" Brown — a slave who read and wrote poetry, sang in a church choir and practiced magic and hypnosis — mailed himself from Virginia to Philadelphia in 1849 and performed all around the world once freed. See hip-hop legend Karl "Dice Raw" Jenkins star in this musical about Brown’s fascinating life for a limited time at the New Freedom Theatre.

more about Henry "Box" Brown: A Hip Hop Musical

"Standing in Their Own Light: African American Patriots in the American Revolution" at the Museum of the American Revolution

The exterior of the Museum of the American Revolution.

Learn more about the lives of the brave African-American Revolutionaries during this discussion at the Museum of the American Revolution. (Photo courtesy Museum of the American Revolution)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

On the first day of Black History Month, author and historian Judith L. Van Buskirk teams up with the Museum of the American Revolution for an illustrated lecture that explores the lives and stories of African-American Revolutionaries. For Buskirk's latest book, Standing in Their Own Light: African American Patriots in the American Revolution, she consulted Revolutionary War pension records to shed light on the thousands of African-American men and women who joined the Revolutionary cause. This enlightening discussion will also dive into how Black Revolutionary War soldiers were central to shifting society's views on slavery at the time.

more about "Standing in their own light" at the Museum of the American Revolution

African American Children’s Book Fair

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Take part in one of the largest single-day events promoting literacy, recognition of African-American children’s literature and African-American authors at the African American Children’s Book Fair at the Community College of Philadelphia.

more about the African-American Children’s Book Fair

Drumming Traditions of Brazil, West Africa, and India at Temple University

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Visitors can enjoy the world music as presented by Temple University students during Drumming Traditions of Brazil, West Africa, and India.

more about Drumming Traditions of Brazil, West Africa, and India

The Slave Narratives

Friday, February 9, 2018

More than 2,300 first-person accounts of former slaves were documented in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project (FWP). The Slave Narratives brings the enslaved experience to life at Venice Island Performing Arts Recreation Center.

more about Venice Island Performing Arts Recreation Center

Black History Month Celebration at Reading Terminal Market

People walking around Reading Terminal Market.

Fill up at Reading Terminal Market during the spot's special Black History Month celebration. (Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Head to Reading Terminal Market — the nation's oldest continuously operating farmers' market — for free cooking demonstrations, live entertainment and more at its Black History Month Celebration on February 10.

more about the Black History Month celebration at Reading Terminal Market

Black History Month with the National Parks Service

February 10 & 24, 2018

As part of programming from the National Parks Service, hear the inspiring stories of Revolutionary War hero Ned Hector (February 10) and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman (February 24) at Congress Hall this month.

more about Black History Month with the National Parks Service

Tell Them We Are Rising: Preview Screening and Panel Discussion at WHYY Studios

WHYY Studios exterior

See and discuss the new documentary Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities at WHYY Studios. (Photo courtesy WHYY)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

WHYY Studios presents a special screening of Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities, Stanley Nelson's latest documentary film about the unexplored history of America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities and how they helped shape the course of the nation. An enlightening panel discussion on the film and the advancement of civil rights follows the screening. Check out WHYY's website for more local programming during Black History Month.

more about Tell Them We Are Rising at WHYY Studios

Black History Month at the Independence Visitor Center

Independence Visitor Center reenactors

Hear the inspiring stories of African-Americans who shaped the history of the nation at the Independence Visitor Center. (Photo by J. Fusco for IVCC)

February 16, 17 & 19, 2018

Learn more about the role African-Americans played in U.S. history at the Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Bench, located inside Independence Visitor Center. The free stories focusing on barrier-breaking African-Americans can be heard at the bench on February 16, 17 and 19 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

more about Black History Month at the Independence Visitor Center

Black History Month Brunch

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Enjoy brunch with a side of history at the Saint Malachy Catholic Community’s 4th Black History Month Brunch. This year, the topic is Recognizing The Harlem Renaissance: A Celebration of Black Creativity.

more about Black History Month Brunch

Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement Screening at Mother Bethel AME Church

Congregation at Mother Bethel AME Church

Catch the film Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement at Mother Bethel AME Church in mid-February. (Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Head to Mother Bethel AME Church for a screening of the documentary Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement. The film highlights the accomplishments of Black men and women in theatre, the importance of the Black Arts Movement and the funding crisis of Black theatres.

more about The Mother Bethel AME Church

Arturo A. Schomburg Symposium: Does Violence Have Color?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Now in its 22nd year, the Schomburg Symposium is an annual Taller Puertorriqueño conference dedicated to Afro-Latino history and culture. This year's symposium theme: Does Violence Have Color?

more about Arturo A. Schomburg Symposium: Does Violence Have Color?

Philly Black Trans History: A Multigenerational Panel Discussion

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The William Way LGBT Community Center's 2nd Annual Philly Black Trans History: A Multigenerational Panel Discussion will feature some of the city's most influential trans pioneers.

more about The William Way LGBT Community Center

African-American Historic Sites in Philadelphia

Visitors view an exhibit at the African American Museum in Philadelphia.

Rich African-American history is always on display at institutions like the African American Museum in Philadelphia (shown). (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Ongoing

There’s no shortage of African-American culture and history to experience in Philadelphia. The successes, struggles and contributions of African-Americans through the centuries are highlighted through programming and exhibits at institutions like the African-American Museum in Philadelphia, the Penn Museum, the National Liberty Museum and many more.

more about african-american historic sites in philadelphia

Support Black-Owned Shops in Philadelphia

Woman shopping in The Sable Collective.

The Sable Collective (shown) is one of many black-owned shops selling fashionable items for any occasion. (Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

Ongoing

Support African-American store owners and designers by shopping this Black History Month. Swing by The Sable Collective for self-care beauty buys and housewares adorned with positive affirmations or stop in Cultured Couture Vintage for sophisticated name-brand vintage menswear. For denim lovers, head to Charlie’s Jeans in Old City for flattering jeans in a variety styles and washes.

more about black-owned businesses in philadelphia

Support Black-Owned Restaurants in Philadelphia

Women dining at Relish.

Enjoy modern southern cuisine and live jazz at Relish (shown). (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)

Ongoing

Make a point to dine out at one (or more!) of the many black-owned restaurants during Black History Month. Dos Tacos, 48th Street Grille, Relish and Aksum Cafe all offer appetizing options.

more about black-owned restaurants in philadelphia

Support Black-Owned Art Galleries in Philadelphia

The interior of the Bazemore Gallery.

The Bazemore Gallery (shown) is just one of many contemporary black-owned galleries in the area. (Photo courtesy the Bazemore Gallery)

Ongoing

Intriguing and innovative art can be found all over Philadelphia, including at forward-thinking black-owned galleries. This month, see what’s on display at galleries like the Tiberino Museum, Rush Arts Philly (the gallery of renowned artist Danny Simmons), the Bazemore Gallery and more.

more about black-owned galleries in philadelphia




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