It’s February which means it’s Black History Month! The month is an opportunity for every American to learn, reflect, and celebrate the contributions African Americans have made throughout history.

Initially started as a week-long observance in 1926 by historian and author Carter G. Woodson, the educational celebration grew to its current month-long format in 1976. Woodson wrote that accurately teaching history would empower — and that inaccurately presenting a revisionist version of history would be oppressive.

All month long in Philadelphia, events that highlight contributions across politics, art, and culture are taking place. Here are a few happening across the city!

All month long, the African American History Museum in Philadelphia presents programs observing Black History Month. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia.)

Photography Exhibit Opening Reception: Church of Broken Pieces & Harlem, USA
African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street
Thursday, February 2 | 6:30 p.m.
You’re invited to join the African American Museum in Philadelphia as we open two stunning and moving photography exhibitions exploring the true depth and beauty of historically African American neighborhoods, Shawn Theodore: Church of Broken Pieces and Dawoud Bey: Harlem, USA. This reception is free and open to the public and will include wine and light fare. RSVP online.

African Dance Workshop
Wednesdays: February 1, 8, and 15 | 6:30 p.m.
Greater Olney Library, 5501 N. 5th Street (at Tabor Road)
Join in for an educational and interactive class led by an instructor. This program is for teens and adults.

A Taste of History: Learning about George Crum, African American Inventor of the Potato Chip
Thursday, February 2 | 4:30 p.m.
Whitman Library, 200 Snyder Avenue
Come listen to a reading of The Greatest Potatoes, a picture book detailing the life of George Crum, inventor of the potato chip. Then we’ll sample different potato chips and vote on our favorite flavors! Children, teens, and families are welcome to attend this special Black History Month program.

Parents of Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, participate in a discussion with journalist Errin Haines Whack at the Free Library.

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin
Thursday, February 2 | 7:30 p.m.
Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin discuss the events before, during, and after the death of their son, Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman on the evening of February 26, 2012. Fulton and Martin will be joined by Errin Haines Whack, an award-winning reporter for The Associated Press covering race and politics. This discussion is free and open to the public.

Monday Poets: Janice A. Lowe & Dr. Herman Beavers
Tuesday, February 6 | 6:30 p.m.
Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street
Monday Poets is presented in Room 108 at Parkway Central on the first Monday of every month.  Moderated by Lamont Dixon, the free reading this month features Janice A. Lowe and Dr. Herman Beavers, two “outstanding poets of color who will frame this long sweep of history in verse.”

Community Capoeira Dance Lessons
Tuesday, February 7 | 12:00 p.m.
Hamilton Garden, Kimmel Center, 300 South Broad Street
The Kimmel Center welcomes the community to a free capoeira dance lessons in Hamilton Garden led by Philadelphia based dance company Project Capoeira, a Philadelphia-based non-profit. Participants will be invited to learn the rich history of this dance form that infused dance, music, gymnastics, self-defense, and the Portuguese language. Capoeira was born out of the struggle for freedom. Enslaved Africans brought it to Brazil in the 16th century and cleverly disguised this powerful form of self-defense as a harmless dance. To hide their fighting spirit from their masters, the earliest Capoeiristas combined playful, graceful dance and acrobatic movements with deadly kicks. This free event is held in anticipation of the upcoming performance by Balé Folclórico da Bahía on February 17.

Black History Month Films at PUP
Tuesdays: February 7, 14, 21, and 28 | 2:00 p.m.
Philadelphia Unemployment Project, 112 N. Broad Street, 11th Floor
Throughout February, the Philadelphia Unemployment Project offers free screenings of three documentaries: “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” on February 7; “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson,” Part One on February 14, Part Two on February 21; and, “Slavery by Another Name” on February 28. All are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.

Progeny’s Legacy Jamaa
Thursday, February 9 | 4:30 p.m.
Thomas F. Donatucci, Sr. Library, 1935 Shunk Street
Progeny’s Legacy Jamaa will be performing African folktales and music. The program is open to families!

Celebrate Black History Month Panel Discussion at Macy’s
Thursday, February 9 | 5:30 p.m.
Macy’s Center City Philadelphia, 1300 Market Street
Join host Kelly Lee, Chief Cultural Officer of the City of Philadelphia, for a celebration of Black Art and Culture, featuring a panel discussion with award-winning Macy’s Culinary Council Chef, Marcus Samuelsson, poetry readings by local Philadelphia artists, Supreme Dow and Kai Davis, and a performance by The Rakiem Walker Project! The event is free and those who register online and check-in may be eligible for a $10 Macy’s gift card.

Stroke the City: Engaging Black Arts
Saturday, February 11 | 7:00 p.m.
Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center, 7 Lock Street
The Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement (OBME) & Childhoods Lost Foundation are partnering to host “Stroke The City: Engaging Black Arts” performance. Hosted during and in recognition of Black History Month, the event will feature black male vocalists, dancers, actors, visual artists, spoken word artists, and musicians.  Proceeds of the show will be donated to the Sydney Group via The Healed Project (THP), a non-profit organization that supports and fosters performing arts skills for high school students and adults up to 35 years old. Tickets are $30-50 and are available online.

Sundays on Stage: Eda Ne Kakati (From the Past to the Present)
Sunday, February 12 | 2:00 p.m.
Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street
Ssuuna is a dancer, drummer, singer, songwriter, and reggae artist from Uganda with a wide range of performance experience. In this interactive show, you will learn a song in Luganda, the language of Uganda!

Black History Month Scavenger Hunt
Monday, February 13 | 4:00 p.m.
Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek Library, 5800 Cobbs Creek Parkway
During a scavenger hunt through the library, children will learn information about well-known African American authors and illustrators.

Matt Stewart plays a concert reflecting research conducted with librarians in the Free Library’s Social Science & History Department.

Mysterious Travelers Featuring Matt Stewart
Monday, February 13 | 7:00 p.m.

Parkway Central Library, Music Department, 1901 Vine Street
Jazz trumpeter Matt Stewart will debut a new concert-length deep musical exploration of the Reconstruction Era Freedmen’s Bureau based entirely on research he conducted with librarians in the Social Science & History Department.

Emerald’s Café
Wednesday, February 15 | 4:00 p.m.
Chestnut Hill Library, 8711 Germantown Avenue
The Harlem Renaissance is an important part of African American history. From writers like Langston Hughes, dancers like Josephine Baker, and musicians like Duke Ellington, life during the Harlem Renaissance has influenced the way people think, dress, and feel to this very day. Come and learn about great jazz musicians, poets, dancers, and other artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Play games, win prizes, and meet Miss Emerald of Emerald’s Cafe! Refreshments popular in the 1920s will be served.

Sittin’ In: Live Sessions
Wednesday, February 15 | 8:00 p.m.
Commonwealth Plaza, Kimmel Center, 300 South Broad Street
Sittin’ In: Live Sessions celebrates its 5th anniversary with an old fashion jam session – an  informal musical event where instrumentalists play improvised solos and vamp on tunes, songs, and chord progressions. In addition to live music and entertainment, attendees will learn about the history of the “jam session” and the pivotal role it has played in the African American artistic experience. (Free.)

Community Conversations Hosted by Office of Black Male Engagement
Wednesday, February 15 | 6:00 p.m.

Community College of Philadelphia, Winnet Student Life Building, Great Hall, 1700 Spring Garden Street
The initiative is a monthly forum where community members and leaders discuss challenges, opportunities, and solutions that address dismantling inequities that impact the lives of men and boys of color in the city. February’s discussion is the second Community Conversation and will revolve around “Economic Development.” RSVP online.

Philadelphia 76ers: Mentoring Art Contest
February 17 Deadline for Submissions
The Philadelphia 76ers Mentoring Art Contest (MAC) presented by PECO, is A My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Philadelphia city-wide competition to encourage and empower youth to express their ideas about mentorship through visual storytelling. The Mentoring Art Contest is open to Philadelphia amateur artists in grades 1 – 12. The competition will be judged City Hall on March 16th. Learn more about the contest.

Balé Folclórico da Bahía
Friday, February 17 | 8:00 p.m.
Merriam Theater, 250 South Broad Street
Brazil’s premiere folkloric dance company Balé Folclórico da Bahía is bringing Carnival to Philadelphia on February 17th. Audiences will be mesmerized by the incredibly ornate costumes of this 38-member troupe of dancers, singers, and musicians, who perform a spectacular repertoire based upon “Bahían” folkloric dances of African origin including samba, slave dances, and capoeira – a form of martial arts designed to look like dance that was once performed by enslaved Africans. (Tickets start at $59.00.)

PNC Grow Up Great
Saturday, February 18 | 11:00 a.m.
Commonwealth Plaza, Kimmel Center, 300 South Broad Street
Join us in the Kimmel Center’s Commonwealth Plaza for an hour of interactive fun! At Grow Up Great, kids learn the basics of Jazz & Musical Theater. This month, prepare your kids for a fun musical adventure involving learning music from the African American experience, including rhythms of the African diaspora, gospel traditions, and jazz! (Free.)

Remixing Colorblind
Wednesday, February 22 | 7:00 p.m.
Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street
Join us to embark on an examination of how the educational system today shapes our understanding of race and, by extension, the nuances of race relations – including notions of implicit bias, individual racism, institutional racism, and reverse racism.

Folktales Out of Africa
Friday, February 24 | 10:00 a.m.
Kingsessing Library, 1201 S. 51st Street
Enjoy a fun program featuring African folktales. Folktales are simple stories that reflect a culture’s values and can be instructive about life choices and social responsibilities. In “pourquoi” or origin tales, they can also explain the “why” of the world or how things came to be.

Penn Museum’s 28th Annual Celebration of African Cultures
Saturday, February 25 | 11:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m
Penn Museum, 3260 South Street
Traditional African music and contemporary African dance, storytelling, a drumming workshop, arts, crafts, an African marketplace, games family gallery tours, films and more all come alive at this annual celebration. This event is free with Museum admission. ($15 general admission, $13 seniors, $10 children ages 6-17 and full-time students, $2 ACCESS and Museums for All cardholders, free to children under five, active duty U.S. military, STAMP, and PennCard holders.)

“A Freedom to Go Forth”
Saturday, February 25 | 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. 
Historic Strawberry Mansion, 2450 Strawberry Mansion Drive
The Mansion hosts a special one-day exhibit on display in the Exhibition Room to complement to complement the Judge William Lewis exhibit, “A Freedom To Go Forth.” Items from the Lest We Forget Slavery Museum, the only Philadelphia area museum with an extensive collection of authentic slavery artifacts, will be on view and Lest We Forget’s curators will be on hand to discuss the artifacts with visitors. The “Freedom to Go Forth” exhibit features stories, facts, and imagery on modern-day and past slavery. Strawberry Mansion was selected to feature this exhibit because of the incredible and tireless anti-slavery work of the mansion’s founder, William Lewis. Mr. Lewis utilized his legal acumen to fight for the abolition of slavery in Pennsylvania.

Lecture: “The Religion-Politics Nexus and Black Oppression” by John Elliott Churchville, Ph.D., J.D.
Monday, February 27 | 2:00 p.m.
Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University, Sullivan Hall, 1330 Polett Walk
This presentation will trace the historical background of the symbiotic relationship between religion and politics from the earliest times; examine the context in which Europeans have used religion to rationalize their racism and political hegemony over Black and other people of difference and color; and, suggest some practical ways to confront and struggle effectively against the Eurocentric religion/politics conspiracy. Churchville will also be on hand to sign copies of his two latest books, Provocative Thoughts for Black Men and Conversations with My Progeny: An African Elder’s Legacy to the Young People in His Village.

Bessie Coleman Airplane Craft
Monday, February 27 | 4:30 p.m.
Eastwick Library, 2851 Island Avenue
Learn about and celebrate African American pilot Bessie Coleman. Make paper airplanes and popsicle stick airplanes.

“It Was Named for a Hero”
Monday, February 27 | 6:00 p.m.
Mander Playground, 2140 North 33rd Street
The Strawberry Mansion Civic Association hosts this program highlighting the work of heroes from Strawberry Mansion’s past, including Joseph E. Mander. In 1952, Mander died while courageously attempting to save a boy from drowning in the Schuylkill River. Tragically, both he and the boy perished. Mander Playground at 33rd and Diamond is named in his honor.

Black History Untold: Black Joy Event
Tuesday, February 28 | 5:30 p.m.
WHYY Studios, The Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons, 150 N. 6th Street
Philadelphia Media Network — publisher of the Inquirer, Daily News, and — partners with WHYY to present “Black History Untold: Black Joy Event.” From 5:30-8:00 p.m., join writer Sofiya Ballin and panelists from her Black History Month series for refreshments, networking, and a discussion of Black Joy. Tickets are available for purchase ($30 general admission, $10 students with valid ID).

Black History Month at the Constitution Center
February 2017
Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
Throughout February, the Constitution Center presents several special and in-depth exhibits devoted to Black History Month, including the Breaking Barriers show which “examines the lives of Thurgood Marshall, Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson, and other groundbreaking African-Americans throughout American history.”

Black History Month at the African American Museum in Philadelphia
February 2017
African American Musem in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street
Visit the AAMP and experience the richness and vibrancy of African American heritage and culture come alive in four magnificent exhibition galleries filled with exciting history and fascinating art. All month long, AAMP hosts exhibits and events perfect for those observing Black History Month.

Philadelphia Parks and Rec Black History Month Kids and Adults Art Show
February 2017
Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, 1515 Arch Street, 10th Floor
In January, hundreds of adults and children from PPR facilities submitted artwork for the Black History Month art contest. Now that it’s February, it’s time to show off their talent! Three winning pieces in each age category were selected and are on display in the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation offices throughout the entire month.

Do you want to learn more about Black History Month? Or, do you have an idea for a future program? Connect with the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement today!