Celebrate Black History Month in Philadelphia With These Events, Tours, Exhibits and More
Get our weekly picks of what to do this weekend and the latest on Philly's arts and entertainment scene.
As always, there are many ways to celebrate Black History Month in Philadelphia, with many organizations in town hosting talks, screenings, concerts and more. Here are some highlights to add to your calendar.
In Conversation: Visual Meditations on Black Masculinity
This group show — presented by MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora — features the work of 55 women and non-binary photographers that “explore the construct of Black masculinity.” For more Black History Month happenings at the African American Museum, check their calendar.
$10-$14, through March 1st, African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch St., 215-574-0380.
African American Children’s Book Fair
This big, popular annual event features readings, activities and appearances by lots of authors and illustrators of children’s books, including Vashti Harrison, Torrey Maldonado, Floyd Cooper, Debbie Rigaud and more.
Free, February 1st, 1-4 p.m., Community College of Philadelphia Gymnasium, 17th and Spring Garden streets, 215-878-BOOK.
The Philly POPS pays tribute to the Queen of Soul with a show full of Aretha Franklin favorites at the Kimmel Center. Featuring vocalists Capathia Jenkins and Ryan Shaw. Conducted by Byron Stripling. (P.S. There’s a ton of Black History Month events going on at the Kimmel; here’s the schedule.)
$35-$153, February 14-16, Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St., 215-893-1999.
Witness to History: Selma Photography of Stephen Somerstein
This exhibition features 55 photos — of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, John Lewis and more — taken by Stephen Somerstein as activists marched on Selma on March 25, 1965.
February 1st through June 14th, Brandywine River Museum of Art, 1 Hoffmans Mill Road, Chadds Ford, PA, 610-388-2700.
Black History Month Film Series at the South Philly Free Library
This movie series at the South Philly Branch of the Free Library features free screenings every Saturday in February. February 1st: Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse; February 2nd: Moonlight, February 15th: Black Panther (followed by discussion); February 22nd: Let the Fire Burn (followed by discussion); February 29th: Malcolm X.
Free, Saturdays, 2 p.m., South Philly Branch of the Free Library, 1700 S. Broad St.
African American Iconic Murals Trolley Tour
Mural Arts Philadelphia offers this two-hour guided trolley tour focusing on works throughout the city that deal with the ideas of “civil rights, freedom, and equality.” Sure to be included on the route is Willis “Nomo” Humphrey’s moving Staircases and Mountaintops murals.
$28-$32, February 9th & 23rd, 1:30 p.m., starts at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building, 128 N. Broad St., 215-925-3633.
Black History Month Walking Tour
West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd offers this guided walking tour paying tribute to black Americans both famous and underappreciated, from singing superstar Teddy Pendergrass to civil rights leaders Raymond and Sadie Alexander.
$13-$15, Saturday, February 29, 1 p.m., West Laurel Hill Cemetery, 225 Belmont Ave., Bala Cynwyd, PA, 215-228-8200.
Family Festival: People, Places, Paintings
Local artist Patricia Thomas hosts a family-friendly painting party inspired by Horace Pippin. Chester County artist Pippin is the focus of a major exhibition at the Art Museum.
$14-$25, Sunday, February 2, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, 215-763-8100.
Awakened In You: The Collection of Dr. Constance E. Clayton
This exhibition features paintings, sculpture and works on paper by African American artists, donated by educator/arts advocate Constance E. Clayton. (See Also: Art at Noon — Collecting African American Art on February 12th.)
$8-$15, February 21st through July 12th, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Historic Landmark Building, 128 N. Broad St., 215-972-7600.
African and Diasporic Cultures Celebration
This Penn Museum “Culture Fest” celebrates “contemporary and traditional cultural practices across Africa and the African Diaspora.” Featuring film screenings, talk, music, mask-making and more stuff for kids and adults.
$13-$18, February 15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Penn Museum, 3260 South St., 215-898-4000/
Voices of Hope: A Black History Month Celebration
The Mann Center for the Performing Arts teams up with the Please Touch Museum for this event featuring performances by PHILADANCO, Philadelphia Heritage Chorale, Monique Brooks Roberts, Sister Cities Girlchoir and CAPA String Quartet. Hosted by 6abc anchor Tamala Edwards and featuring keynote speaker Dr. Michelle Shorter.
Free, February 20th, 6 p.m., Please Touch Museum, Memorial Hall, 4231 Avenue of the Republic.
The NYC-based multi-octave singer-songwriter and Broadway performer released his debut record, A Man Born Black, last year.
$10-$12, 9 p.m., World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
History After Hours: Black History Untold
The Museum of the American Revolution and the PA chapter of the ACLU join forces for a discussion, music and poetry performances and a screening of the newest installment in journalist Sofiya Ballin’s Black History Untold series entitled Revolution. (For more Black History Month-related programming at the Museum of the American Revolution, click here.)
$10, February 11, 5-8:30 p.m., Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. Third St., 215-253-6731.
My General Tubman
The Arden Theatre presents the first play by acclaimed Philadelphia author Lorene Cary about the life of Underground Railroad hero Harriet Tubman — who, in this version of the story, can time travel. Directed by James Ijames; stars Danielle Leneé.
$24 through $59, continues through March 8th, Arden Theatre, 40 N. Second St., 215-922-1122
African American History Month at the Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center celebrates the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th amendment with a month of themed programming. This includes multiple performances of FOURTEEN: A Theatrical Performance, based off the work of Frederick Douglass and others; and Four Harriets, an interactive program about Harriet Robinson Scott, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Jacobs and Harriet Beecher Stowe. For the full rundown of the NCC’s Black History Month events, see here.
$7.50-$10, February, National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St., 215-409-6600.
Taught By Women
A conversation with poet Haki Madhubuti, editor of the anthology Taught By Women: Poems on Resistance Language.
Free, February 21st, 2-4 p.m., Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, 1330 Polett Walk, Temple University, 215-204-3455.
Celebrating Black History Month: Frederick Douglass
The Library Company (not to be confused with the Free Library) offers this one-hour tour of its collection focusing on abolitionist/scholar Frederick Douglass and led by Jasmine Smith, African American history specialist.
$10, February 19th, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Library Company of Philadelphia, 1314 Locust St.
Free Library Black History Month Events
The Free Library of Philadelphia’s schedule shows a gigantic list of Black History Month events at lots of branches throughout February. Highlights include:
- African American History Quizzo for Teens, February 4th at Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library
- Hands-on History Presents: The Elite of Our People, February 8th, Rare Book Department at Parkway Central Library
- Film Screening and Director’s Talk — Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II, February 8th, Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library
- A City Divided: Race, Fear and the Law in Police Confrontations, February 13th, at Parkway Central Library
- Multimedia Book Talk for Teens — She Came to Slay: The Life and Time of Harriet Tubman, February 14th at Lillian Marrero Library
- Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at The Rosenbach: Black Beats Edition, February 20th
- African Americans in Baseball: Remembering the Philadelphia Stars, February 22nd, Walnut Street West Library