15 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Philadelphia
“200 Years of African American Art”
Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) kicked off 2015 by pulling from its holdings 75 pieces of artwork by African American artists. The exhibit, called “Represent: 200 Years of African American Art,” is, like its name suggests, a survey of art that spans two centuries and more than 50 artists. According to the New York Observer, some of the oldest pieces in the collection include Moses Williams silhouettes that date back to 1802, artworks by free and enslaved artists and a sculpture by David Drake. January 10th – April 5th, 10am-5pm, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. —Josh Middleton.
Underground Railroad in Philadelphia
Philadelphia was an important stop along the Underground Railroad in the 1700 and 1800s. Learn all about it at Philly’s Independence Visitor Center, where docents will share stories about the people involved and various locations in the city. February 7th and 8th, 3-3:30pm, Independence Visitor Center, 1 North Independence Mall West.
African American History Month at the Constitution Center
There are tons of way to celebrate Black History Month at the Constitution Center: Some highlights include “Breaking Barrier Show,” a conversation series that looks at the lives of influential African Americans, like Thurgood Marshall, Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson, and more. The event aims to highlight their struggles to break barriers so that future generations of African American people could enjoy rightful freedoms. “Decoding the Document: Emancipation Proclamation Document Workshop” allows visitors to see the printing of the Emancipation Proclamation. And there will be a Black History Self-Guided Tour to showcase museum keepsakes like President Obama’s inauguration artifacts and the original copy of the Dred Scott decision. See the full list of NCC events here. Various dates and times throughout February, National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street.
“As We See It”
The African American Museum of Philadelphia is celebrating Black History Month by pairing pieces from its Petrucci Family Foundation Collection with artworks created by local youth. The show aims to “fulfill the collection’s vision of using African American art to inspire and enlighten young people.” February 5th – March 21st, 10am – 5pm, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street.
Roger Lee Dance Black History Celebration
Roger Lee believes that Black History Month should not only be a look back on African American history, but a celebration of what’s happening now. To do this he’s choreographed an interpretive performance inspired by the ways his dancers view and celebrate black history. Should be a powerful performance. February 6th-7th, 8pm, Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street.
23rd Annual African American Children’s Book Fair
Bring the kids and let them explore the aisles of books at the African American children’s book fair. The fair will also include appearances by authors and illustrators of some of the works within. February 7th, 11am – 3pm, Community College of Philadelphia, 1700 Spring Garden Street.
And They Sang a Hymn
Hymns have been part of the African American church since the 1800s, but, inevitably, time has changed the way they were sung—until now. Hear the Drexel University Gospel Choir take it back to the way they were as they perform “gospelized” versions of beloved hymns, which accompaniment from the Drexel Jazztet. February 7th, 5pm-7pm, free, Mandell Theater, 3141 Chestnut Street.
Searching for the Life of Harriet Hemings
Learn all about Harriet Hemings, who is thought to be the child of Thomas Jefferson and his rumored African American love Sally Hemmings. This presentation, led by Catherine Kerrison of Villanova University, will take you through Harriet’s experience as a fugitive slave who eventually made her way to freedom in Philadelphia. February 8th, 2pm, Mercer Museum and Fronthill Castle, 84 South Pine Street, Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
In honor of Black History Month, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings will bring their infection, old-school soul sounds to the Kimmel Center. February 13th, 8pm, $45-$65, Kimmel Center for the performing arts, 300 South Broad Street.
Fat Tuesday Celebration: Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
Kill two birds with one stone: Celebrate Fat Tuesday and Black History Month with a performance by Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. February 17th, 7:30, $29-$69, Kimmel Center for the performing arts, 300 South Broad Street.
Screening and Panel Discussion: Mr. Civil Rights
WHYY hosts an advanced screening of Mick Couette’s Mr. Civil Rights Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP. Stick around after the film for a panel discussion about Marshall’s legacy. The event is free but you must register to attend. February 18th, 5:30-8pm, WHYY, 150 North 6th Street.
Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela
As part of its African Roots series, the Annenberg Center welcomes South African freedom fighters and musical icons Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela. February 21st, 8pm, $30-70, Annenberg Center Live, 3680 Walnut Street.
Botswana and the Art of the Kalahari
This exhibit will feature artists from Botswana at the Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Gallery. There will be baskets, paintings, and prints to show traditional African work by contemporary artists. February 22nd – March 14th, 3pm-5pm, Free, Wayne Art Center, 413 Maplewood Avenue, Wayne.
An Evening with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
Award-winning astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson—and host of Fox’s Cosmos—will lead guests through a captivating discussion on all things space exploration and science. February 25th, 7:30pm, Kimmel Center for the performing arts, 300 South Broad Street.
Celebration of African Cultures
Soak in the culture of the African diaspora through an afternoon of drum and dance classes, storytelling, arts and crafts, food, and games at the Penn Museum. February 28th, 11am – 4pm, $10-$15, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street.