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Black History Month in Philadelphia 2018

Special tours, film screenings, performances and so much more

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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.

 

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Black History Month at 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.

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Black History Month 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.

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Black History Month at Independence National Historical Park

Catch a living history performance at the Independence Visitor Center this February. — Photo courtesy Independence Visitor Center

February 2018

Hear the inspiring stories of Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, Revolutionary War hero Ned Hector and other barrier-breaking African-Americans at the Independence Visitor Center.

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Black History Month at the Penn Museum

Penn Museum Penn Museum
Penn Museum — 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.

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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.

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Black Pulp! at the African American Museum in 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.

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Henry "Box" Brown: A Hip Hop Musical

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.

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

The Museum of the American Revolution promises art, manuscripts and printed works from the nation's Revolutionary Period. — 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

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Tavis Smiley: Death of A King at the Kimmel Center

Tavis Smiley takes the stage at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts for a live presentation of <i>Death of A King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year</i>. — Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Friday, February 2, 2018

Broadcaster and author Tavis Smiley presents a live multi-media stage presentation of his New York Times Bestseller, Death of A King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Black History Month Celebration at Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market Reading Terminal Market
— 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

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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.

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

Catch the film <i>Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement</i> 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

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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?

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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

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African-American Historic Sites in Philadelphia

Rich African-American history is always on display at institutions like the African American Museum in Philadelphia — shown

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.

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Support Black-Owned Shops in Philadelphia

The Sable Collective — shown

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.

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Support Black-Owned Restaurants in Philadelphia

Enjoy modern southern cuisine and live jazz at Relish — shown

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.

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Support Black-Owned Art Galleries in Philadelphia

The Bazemore Gallery — shown

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.

 


 

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