Celebrate Black History Month in Philadelphia With These Events, Tours, Exhibits and More
Here are some highlights to add to your calendar this February.
Get our weekly picks of what to do this weekend and the latest on Philly's arts and entertainment scene.
Many Philly organizations are honoring and celebrating Black History Month by hosting virtual or in-person events. Be sure to check with each organization ahead of time about COVID protocols, such as masking, proof-of-vaccination status and potential cancellations. Here’s a selection to explore.
The Black Journey: African-American History Walking Tour of Philadelphia
This 90-minute tour offers an in-depth look at the history of Black Philadelphia. Starting at the Independence Visitor Center, participants will visit the President’s House, Old City Hall, the First U.S. Supreme Court Building, the oldest piece of land owned by people of African descent, and more. Masks are required.
$20-35 (advance RSVP required), February 5th, 2 p.m., Independence Visitor Center, 599 Market Street.
Black History Mural Tour
This event hosted by Historic Fair Hill will explore six murals in the neighborhood surrounding the burial ground. Each hour-long tour will begin at the top of the hour, and will include info about related major events and prominent figures, thanks to tour guide and historian Carolyn Singleton.
Free, February 12th, noon to 3 p.m., Historic Fair Hill, 2901 Germantown Avenue.
Celebrate Black History Month on the Kimmel Cultural Campus
The Kimmel Cultural Campus is partnering with several Philadelphia music groups to celebrate Black History Month. For all events, masks and vaccinations cards for those over 12 are required. Guests under 12 are required to show a negative PCR test. Highlights include:
- Internationally acclaimed opera singer Angel Blue and the Philadelphia Orchestra will perform several pieces that relate to the Black experience. $44-161, February 3rd at 7:30 p.m.; February 4th at 2 p.m.; and February 5th at 8 p.m., Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center, 300 South Broad Street.
- Dancin’ In The Streets: The Music of MOTOWN, a groovy concert experience by the Philly POPS featuring many iconic Motown hits from artists such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, and more. $37-172, February 18th at 8 p.m.; February 19th at 3 p.m.; and February 20th at 3 p.m., Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center, 300 South Broad Street.
- Jazz vocal performance by Laurin Talese, who will be performing songs off her upcoming release, Museum Of Living Stories. $29-49, February 19th, 8 p.m., Perelman Theater inside the Kimmel Center, 300 South Broad Street.
Black History Month Virtual Mural Tour
This 90-minute virtual tour offers an immersive experience into some of the city’s most mesmerizing murals representing Black figures and icons. Over Zoom, guests will meet with a live tour guide and travel through several Philadelphia neighborhoods to gather a rich experience surrounding these murals and the artists behind them.
$20, February 15th and 24th, 4 p.m., online.
Black Wall Street Is Back! Business Expo
Support Black businesses with this community shopping event featuring fitness, skincare, and clothing vendors, plus local artists and chefs. Live music and performances will also take place. Masks are required.
Free until you buy something (registration required), February 26th, 10 a.m to 6 p.m., Kennedy Center, 429 John F. Kennedy Way, Willingboro, N.J.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Black History Paint & Learn
During this family-friendly painting event, attendees can expect storytelling, painting of Black history subjects, Black history trivia, giveaways, and more activities. Supplies will be included, alongside an educational lesson on the featured subject. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.
$8-20, February 5th, noon to 4 p.m., ArtzScape by Lady C Productions, 205 North Market Street, Wilmington, Del.
Art by Jimi
This one-of-a-kind collection of wood carvings created by James McGlone was specifically designed for ArtzScape’s Black History Month exhibition. Guests can expect a Q&A with the carver, as well as food and music.
$10, February 4th, 5 to 9 p.m., ArtzScape by Lady C Productions, 205 North Market Street, Wilmington, Del.
ARTS & CRAFTS
February Teen Take and Make
Celebrating Black Artists: The Abington Public Library is hosting an event for young people to celebrate artist Alma Thomas, known for her abstract mosaic paintings. (Thomas’s work is featured in the Philadelphia Museum of Art!) Participants will receive a kit and supplies to create their own mosaics.
Free (reservation required), February 14th, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 1030 Old York Road, Abington.
A Taste of African Heritage: Cooking Class Series
The Abington Public Library is hosting a virtual, six-week-long cooking program, where participants will be able to learn about and make dishes of the African diaspora. Each class is 60 minutes, and participants are strongly encouraged to attend all six sessions.
Free (reservation required), every Wednesday from February 16th through March 23rd, 6 p.m., online.
Black History Month at the National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center will be hosting a variety of events in honor of Black History Month. Highlights include:
- The Road to Freedom: The Story of Slavery in America Program: An interactive program that explores the story of slavery through a constitutional lens. Will take visitors on a journey, from the Constitutional Convention to the beginning of the Civil War. Ongoing, in person.
- Decoding the Document: A workshop that examines the Emancipation Proclamation and its historical legacy. Ongoing, in person.
- “Four Harriets” Program: Visitors are able to explore the lives of four women- Harriet Robinson Scott, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Jacobs, and Harriet Beecher Stowe- who fought slavery in their own way. Visitors to the exhibit can pick up a Black History Month brochure designed for the self-guided exhibit. Ongoing, in person.
- The 19th Amendment: How Women Won the Vote Exhibit: A live guided tour over Zoom on how women won the right to vote. Free (registration required), February 7th, noon, online.
- Civil War and Reconstruction Exhibit: A live guided tour over Zoom on slavery’s role in the Civil War along with the role of the Reconstruction period, and a close look at the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Free (registration required), February 14th, noon, online.
- The 14th Amendment and Incorporation: In this three-part online session (introductory, advanced and all levels), participants will explore the 14th Amendment and the battles for equality in American history. Free (registration required), February 23rd at noon and 2 p.m., and February 25th at 1 p.m, online.
African American Children’s Book Fair
This event hosted by the African American Children’s Book Project will feature readings and appearances from award-winning authors and illustrators. This year’s participants include Wade Hudson, Nikki Grimes, Traci N. Todd, and Greg Niri. A Facebook Live book-fair preview takes place February 5th.
Free until you buy something, February 26th, 1 to 4 p.m., Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street, and online.
Events at the Penn Museum
A mix of virtual and in-person events will be held by the Penn Museum this month. Highlights include:
- Between the Lines Book Club, featuring a three-part virtual discussion of My Lord, What a Morning: An Autobiography by Marian Anderson, a South Philly native who overcame adversity as the first African American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. $15 for nonmembers and $10 for members, February 7th, 6 to 7 p.m.; February 21st, 6 to 7 p.m.; February 28th, 6 to 7 p.m., online.
- The Letters performs Marian & Orpheus: A Love Story, co-hosted by The National Marian Anderson Museum & Historical Society. The performance is a dramatic reading of love letters sent between the opera icon and her husband, “noted African-American architect Orpheus ‘King’ Fisher.” $30 concert/$50 concert and reception for non-members, $25 concert/$45 concert and reception for members, February 13th, 4 to 5:30 p.m., Penn Museum, 3260 South Street.
- At-Home Anthro Live: Design a Kanga, a virtual workshop dedicated to designing and creating your own East African clothing piece. Free with registration, February 22nd, 1 to 1:45 p.m., online.
Free Library Black History Month Events
The Free Library of Philadelphia will host a number of Black History Month virtual and in-person events through their various branches. Highlights include:
- W. E. B. Du Bois’ The Ordeal of Mansart Community Reading Group, an opportunity to read one of the author’s seminal works “at a relaxed pace.” Free copies of the book are available to participants, who can hop into the reading group at any time. Free, every Monday through February 28th, 6 p.m., Walnut Street West branch, 201 South 40th Street, and online.
- Brendan Slocumb: The Violin Conspiracy, celebrating the music educator/violinist’s debut novel. Slocumb will be in conversation with the founder and executive director of Play on Philly, Stanford Thompson. Free, February 3rd, 7:30 p.m., Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street.
- The History of Soul Food by the Frazier Family Coalition allows participants to discover the roots of “Soul Food” and learn recipes for two healthy sweet potato dishes. Free, February 5th, 10 to 11 a.m., online.
- Mama Carla Wiley will host a virtual Black History storytelling program on Whitman Library’s Facebook page. Free, February 10th, 4 p.m., online.
- Books & Cooks: Family Wellness Saturday with local author Stacey Woodson and her book Princess of Picky Eating. Woodson will read aloud her book and offer meaningful insights as a dietician. Free, February 19th, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia: Culinary Literacy Center, 1901 Vine Street.
A Question of Freedom: The Families who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War
Hosted by the Library Company of Philadelphia, this virtual event is a conversation between A Question of Freedom author, William G. Thomas III, and Mélisande Short-Colomb, the community engagement associate at Georgetown.
Free (registration required), February 3rd, 5:30-7 p.m., online.
Sing Out, My Soul
The Choir School of Delaware will be hosting its annual Black History Month Concert. The concert will consist of music from Africa, works from Black composers, and traditional spiritual and gospel pieces.
$25, February 27th, 4 p.m., 4900 Concord Pike, Wilmington, Del., and online.
Dreaming Zenzile by Somi Kakoma
Based on the life of South African singer-songwriter and activist Miriam Makeba, the musical gives “an electrifying portrait of a revolutionary artist’s singular voice and vision,” thanks to writer and performer Somi Kakoma.
$25-68, through February 13th, McCarter Theatre Center, 91 University Place, Princeton, N.J.