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The African American Museum in Philadelphia-Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia
The African American Museum in Philadelphia-Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Black History Month in Philadelphia

From lectures to performances, there are many events going on throughout the city

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In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month to recognize and celebrate the achievements of African-Americans. Many organizations and groups in Philadelphia are commemorating this month by hosting both free and tickets events throughout the city, including lectures, performances, and special exhibits. Be sure to check out the variety of events to honor the culture and history, as well notable African-Americans, both past and present.
 
Music & Performances
 
Feb. 2, 2 pm
Independence Library
This free concert will feature Philadelphia’s Historic Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church Choir and is perfect for all ages to enjoy. The concert will take place on the main floor.
 
Feb. 16, 5pm-8pm
Taller Puertorriqueño
The African American Museum in Philadelphia and Taller Puertorriqueño are teaming up to present Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble’s Wemilere: Parade of the Orishas, a performance focusing on 8 deities from the Yoruba culture: Elegba, Ogun, Ochosi, Oshun, Yemaya, Shango, Oya, and Obatala. After the Afro-Cuban drum performance, there will be a Q&A. Although the event is free, you must reserve your spot in advance.
 
Feb. 22, 6 pm-8 pm
Woodmere Art Museum
As part of the Friday Night Jazz series, spend a night with singer El Barak as he pays tribute to Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson. General admission tickets can be purchased online for $24.97.
 
Feb. 23, 8 pm-11 pm
New Covenant Church of Philadelphia
Celebrate Black History Month with a night of music, with genres such as rhythm & blues, soul, and jazz. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $20, or $25 at the door.
Feb. 25, 6 pm
Wynnefield Library
Everyone is invited to creatively share and express their experiences surrounding the African-American experience.
 
Movie/Documentary Screenings
 
Feb. 8, 1 pm
Whitman Library
This movie features the story of Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date in the summer of 1989. Popcorn will be available to viewers.
 
Feb. 9, 2 pm
Lovett Memorial Library
This documentary film will highlight Misty Copeland, the first African-American to become a principal dancer at the American Ballet. This event is perfect for all ages.
 
Feb. 16, 2 pm
Parkway Central Library
“Glory” was nominated for five Academy Awards and focuses on the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, the first regiment to consist of all African-Americans. This film is rated R and is best suited for mature audiences.
 
Feb. 22, 1 pm
Whitman Library
This documentary highlights the life and career of Mavis Staples, along with her group, “The Staple Singers.” Popcorn will be available.
Feb. 25, 6 pm
Parkway Central Library
Head to the Skyline Room for a screening of “Training Day” featuring Halle Berry. In 2002, she won an Oscar for “Best Actress in a Motion Picture.” This made her the first African-American to won this award. Denzel Washington also received an award for “Best Actor in a Motion Picture.” While the event is free, online registration is required.  
 
Feb. 27, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm
Parkway Central Library
This documentary depicts the African-American and white women who joined forces to fight slavery. Following the screening is a discussion with Dr. Emma Lapsansky-Werner and Dr. Kate Oxx, which will be facilitated by Nathaniel Popkin. Online registration is required for this event.
 
Arts
 
Feb. 24, 12:30 pm-2:30 pm
128 N. Broad Street (Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building)
Take a trolley ride through the neighborhoods of Philadelphia to experience murals dedicated to notable African-Americans while exploring various themes such as freedom, equality, and civil rights. Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors, and $28 for students and children under the age of 12.
Now through March 15
Parkway Central Library
The Art Department is featuring a special exhibit in the 2nd floor landing cases of the library, which features materials and books highlighting African-American photographers and their work.
Now through April 1
African American Museum Philadelphia
This even features images from Maurice Sorrell, the first member of the White House Photographers Association who was an African-American. The exhibit is located in the Jack T. Franklin Auditorium.
 
Now through February 24, 2019
African American Museum in Philadelphia (Galleries 3 & 4)
If you visit this exhibit on Feb. 17, there will be a special lecture called “Cotton in the American Imagination: A Lecture with Dr. Anna Arabindan-Kesson.” This event takes places from 2 pm to 3:30 pm and is free. Registration is required.
 
Children / Young Adult Events
 
Feb. 2, 1 pm to 4 pm
Community College of Philadelphia
This free event is to promote reading through activities and interaction with authors/illustrators. Books available for purchase.
 
Feb. 6, 4 pm
West Oak Lane Library
Get into the rhythm of African drumming with this musical event, followed by the opportunity to play some of the drums. This event is great for school age children and young adults.
 
Feb. 21, 4:30 pm
Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library
Children can create their own work of art through a collage after being inspired by the story of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Feb. 16, 3pm
Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library
Children will hear a story and learn about Mae Jemison, the first African-American to go to space. Following the reading, participants will have the chance to make outer space slime.
 
History and Museums
 
Feb. 19, 5 pm to 8 pm
Museum of the American Revolution
Spend a night exploring the question “Who tells your story?” with various speakers, activities, and tours.Guests are also encouraged to bring along an item that conveys their story to be featured in a pop up museum for the night. General Admission is $10.
 
February-Event times vary
National Constitution Center
There are several special events and exhibits to celebrate Black History Month: “Decoding the Document: Emancipation Proclamation Exhibit Station,” an interactive show called “Breaking Barriers,” and African-American History Self-Guided Tour, and an activity where you can test your knowledge about African-American history. Through a special sale, tickets cost $10 for adults and $7.50 for anyone ages 6-18. Use the code WARMUP for a discount when purchasing tickets online.
 
Feb. 9, 1 pm to 3 pm
Independence Seaport Museum
The panel will feature Dr. Nyasha Junior, Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Temple University and Dr. M. Nzadi Keita, Associate Professor of English, Coordinator of African American Studies at Ursinus College. Be sure to visit the Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River exhibit while you are visiting. Entrance into the discussion is included in the cost of museum admission ($17 for Adults, $12 for Seniors (65 & over) , and $12 for Children (3–12), College Students or Military).
Feb. 25, 5 pm to 8 pm
The Franklin Institute
The first annual Black History Challenge will consist of 5 rounds of trivia. Teams of up to 4 people are welcome. Registration is either $25 per person, or $100 for a team. Trivia masters will take home a trophy and the title of champions.
 
Lectures and Discussions
 
Feb. 2, 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books
This discussion will feature on Monique Morris’ book titled “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools.” and will focus on topics such as schools, the justice system, and race. There will also be a book signing.
 
Feb. 5, 7:30 pm
Parkway Central Library
This lecture features Feminista Jones, a social worker, speaker, activist, blogger, and author of a novel titled “Push the Button.” She was named in Philadelphia Magazine as one of the “100 most Influential People in Philadelphia.” DaMaris B. Hill has a PhD in English, as well as women and gender studies. She wrote a book titled “The Fluid Boundaries of Suffrage, Jim Crow: Staking Claims.”
 
Feb. 7, 11 am
Parkway Central
John Hemphill, a member of the Central Senior Services at the library, will host a discussion about the role of African-American in the military.
 
Feb. 7, 7:30 pm
Parkway Central Library
At the age of 18, Chris Wilson was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. After working on self-improvement while in prison through studying and exercising, Wilson started his own business. In his 30s, he was granted an early release. Now, he is the author of “The Master Plan,” and serves as an entrepreneur, a public speaker, and a mentor.
 
Feb. 12, 2 pm
Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Sullivan Hall (1330 W. Polett Walk, located on Temple University’s Campus)
This discussion will feature Reverend Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr., the author of “Black Voters Mattered: A Philadelphia Story.” There will also be a books signing. Registration for this event is requested.
 
Feb. 19, 5:30 pm to 7 pm
The Library Company of Philadelphia
Hosted by the Program in African American History, this lecture with Professor Martha S. Jones, will focus on African-American activists and the battle for their rights. This event is free, but registration is required.
 
Feb. 23, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
Taller Puertorriqueño
The theme for this year’s symposium is “Perceptions & Complicity in Beauty & Race.” Examples of lectures include “Race, The Black Nation (s), and the Gendering of the Black Aesthetic in the Diaspora” and “The Impact of Afro-Latino Movements in the Andean Region Over the Last Two Decades.” General admission is $25 in advance or $30 at the door. A continental breakfast and lunch are provided with the cost of admission.
 
Feb 25, 6:30 pm
Falls of Schuylkill Library
Marquis Bey grew up in Philadelphia and is the author of “Them Goon Rules:  Essays on Radical Black Feminism,” which will be released this month. The book combines his personal experiences and the knowledge he gained through studying theorists of African-American studies and Black feminism.
Feb. 28, 11 am
Parkway Central Library
Spend the last day of Black History Month by listening to some iconic singers, such as Aretha Franklin and Dennis Edwards of “The Temptations.”
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