Black History Month Events in Philadelphia

Here are some highlights to add to your calendar this February.

Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month with tours, events, exhibits and more. / We Still Here mural, 22 Maplewood Mall, courtesy Mural Arts Philadelphia / Gaia, Jetsonorama, & Ursula Rucker; photograph by Steve Weinik

From tours to museum exhibits and beyond, there are so many ways to celebrate Black History Month in Philadelphia. Here are just some of the highlights to explore.

Mural Arts’ Black History Month Civic Heroes Trolley Tours
Offered twice in February, this special 90-minute trolley tour features murals that represent Black historical figures, civic heroes and social justice issues. View these murals, hear the stories behind them, and learn about their artists and the mural-making process along the way.
$28-$38, February 5th and 25th, departs from PAFA, 128 North Broad Street.

Sisterhood Sit-In Trolley Tours
Running three times a day on Saturdays in February and March, these two-hour “Rebel Rides” stop at six Black-women-owned shops and restaurants in Philly including: Harriett’s Bookshop, French Toast Bites, Ceramic Concepts, Bookers, Modest Transitions and Nyambi Naturals Urban Beauty. Plan to spend 15-20 minutes at each location. The tour’s name is an homage to Rosa Parks, and it starts running on February 4th, which would have been her 110th birthday. Tickets are available online.
$40, Saturdays in February and March, departs from Harriett’s Bookshop, 258 East Girard Avenue.

harriett's bookshop black history month

Visit Harriett’s Bookshop on a special Black History Month trolley tour / Photograph courtesy of Visit Philadelphia 

Keep Going: A Black History Discovery Hunt
Pop into Independence Visitor Center on weekends in February for an all-ages scavenger hunt that will uncover stories of Black resistance and resilience throughout historic Old City sites.
Free, Saturdays and Sundays in February, Independence Visitor Center, 599 Market Street.

The Mountaintop
Katori Hall’s poignant, fictional retelling of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final night will be staged at West Chester’s Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center through February 19th. The 90-minute play is set in Memphis on April 3, 1968, on the evening King delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, and reimagines what happened the night before he was assassinated.
$35-$40, February 1st-19th, Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, 226 North High Street, West Chester.

The Mountaintop / Photograph courtesy of Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center

Black History Month at the Betsy Ross House
On weekends in February, the Betsy Ross House will have free programming featuring storytelling that highlights the contributions of Black Americans through history. On Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., “Meet the History Makers,” when re-enactors will bring to life Black residents of colonial Philadelphia, including Bishop Richard Allen, abolitionist James Forten and baker Margaret Woodby. Then, on Sundays, the Once Upon A Nation storytelling bench will be visited by storytellers sharing short, interactive and little-known tales of Black history.
Free, Saturdays and Sundays in February, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street.

Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia
The Museum of the American Revolution’s new special exhibit will feature more than 100 historical artifacts to tell the stories of Philadelphia abolitionist and businessman James Forten and his family, from the Revolutionary era through the Civil War and Reconstruction. In addition to the artifacts on display, the interactive exhibit will include neighborhood walking tours, family activities, weekly theatrical performances, and more. The exhibit opens on February 11th and runs through November 26th.
Included with admission of $13-$21 (free for kids five and under), February 11th-November 26th, Museum of the American Revolution, 101 South 3rd Street.

Nathan Alford Tate as James Forten / Photograph courtesy of Museum of the American Revolution

Black History Month at the Free Library of Philadelphia
There will be free events at libraries throughout the city all month long, including storytimes, author talks, crafts, cooking classes, and much more. Check out the schedule here.

African American Children’s Book Fair
One of the oldest and largest single-day events for African American children’s books in the country, the afternoon includes visits and book-signings with authors and illustrators, games, giveaways, and the opportunity to purchase books — from preschool to young-adult lit.
Free admission, February 11th, 1-4 p.m., Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch streets. 

Celebration of African Americans in Science
The Franklin Institute hosts a “day of celebration and exploration” with the opportunity to meet with professionals from local science organizations and learn about their experiences. You can also catch performances by Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble that include both traditional and hip-hop works, as well as audience participation.
Included with museum admission of $21-$25, February 11th, noon-4 p.m., Franklin Institute, 222 North 20th Street.

CADO: All-Black Creative Marketplace
Curated by Debora Charmelus, this market highlights the Philadelphia region’s Black artists, small businesses, and makers. The day will also include programs and activities including a “State of Black Culture” town hall, a conversation featuring local Black business leaders, and more.
$5-$7, February 19th, noon-5 p.m., Underground Concepts at the Divine Lorraine, 699 North Broad Street.

Black History Month Celebration at Philadelphia Museum of Art
PMA is offering free admission on Saturday, February 25th, with a day of programs and activities highlighting Black artists and the work of local community organizations. For kids, there will be a performance by storyteller Thembi Palmer, art tours and art-making activities inspired by the artwork of Black artist Aaron Douglas. You can also take a self-guided tour featuring works by Black artists.
Free, February 25th, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Beyond Wakanda: Imagining the Future with Black Comic Creators
Inspired by their forward-looking exhibit “Imagined Futures,” the National Liberty Museum is collaborating with the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) for a day of all-ages programming including workshops, discussions, and showcases from creators. Kids can also use inspiration from the day to make their own superheroes. All activities are included with museum admission.
$6-$12 (free for kids under five), February 26th, noon-5 p.m., National Liberty Museum, 321 Chestnut Street.

An Evening Conversation With Dr. Bernice A. King
The African American Museum in Philadelphia hosts an evening with Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of Martin Luther King, at Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church. King will talk about carrying on her father’s legacy in a program called “The Beloved Community.”
$50-$250, February 26th, 4 p.m., Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, 416 South 6th Street.

Chef Kevin Watters hosts a special Black History Month pop-up at The Dutch / Photograph by Lexi Pierce

Mom Mom’s Soul Food Pop-Up
Executive chef and co-owner Kevin Watters hosts a special pop-up at The Dutch, in remembrance of his late grandmother Lillian Lewis, known as “everybody’s Mom Mom.” A portion of proceeds from each $65 ticket will benefit Everybody Eats, the West Philadelphia-based, BIPOC-owned and chef-led charity dedicated to increasing food security in the community. Book via Tock.
$65, February 27th, The Dutch, 1537 South 11th Street.

Black History Month at the National Constitution Center
In addition to daily self-guided tours and activities, you can experience The Four Harriets of History, a show exploring the lives of Harriet Tubman, Harriet Robinson Scott, Harriet Jacobs and Harriet Beecher Stowe — four women who fought to end slavery — during Black History Month at the museum. On weekends, kids can also visit the Freedom Fighters story corner and make their own freedom fighter portrait books.
Included with admission of $7.50-$14.50, through February, National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street.

Black History Month in Northern Liberties
Northern Liberties was a key stop in the Underground Railroad. To honor that history, the neighborhood is launching two new activations for Black History Month: an audio walking tour and “Window Stories,” a series of vinyl window clings that tell the stories of Black residents who lived there in the 1800s. The audio tour launches on February 10th, is less than a mile long and can be completed in about 30 minutes. In addition, Trunc will host “Black Then: The History of Us” every Saturday in February from 4 to 7 p.m., highlighting poetry, spirituals, dance, food and more.

Black History on South Street: A Self-Guided Tour
South Street Headhouse District has put together a guide to Black history on and around South Street, from the all-Black Engine #11 fire station to murals to Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church. You can find the list and map here.