The 2019 Guide to Celebrating Black History Month in Philadelphia
February is finally here. After what has been the longest and coldest January in recollection, we are now cruising into February. Although it’s the shortest month of the year, February is also the most historical month. That is because it’s Black History Month. The history of African Americans goes way beyond figures that we learned in grade school such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.
The roots of African Americans go back to the foundation of our country. So for those looking to explore the rich history of the African American experience in America, look no further than this guide. Here you’ll find landmarks such as historical churches and underground railroad stops. In addition we included events such as trivia nights and musical performances. So enjoy our 2019 guide to celebrating Black History Month in Philadelphia.
Points of Interests
In what has been documented in the history books as one of the bloodiest fighting during the American Revolutionary War, The Cliveden Carriage House is crawling with history. Visitors here will be able to experience what life was like at this plantation and in Philadelphia in general during America’s earliest years as well as little known facts and history from the slaves and free African Americans who lived here.
For over 20 years the Painted Bride has been a cornerstone for local arts and culture. So what better place to experience the beauty of the African American cultures and contribution to the world of the arts than at the Painted Bride. This month The Painted Bride is hosting the “Soul Inspiration” exhibit. Soul Inspiration is a visual art exhibition to honor six African American figures who inspired a generation of human and civil rights workers in Philadelphia, and the nation: William Still, James Forten, Richard Allen, Cecil B. Moore, Rev. Leon Sullivan and Paul L Robeson. To keep the spirit and history of these influential men alive six local visual artists will be invited to participate in this exhibition to deliver a commentary about one of these historical figure
There are several overlooked gems in Philadelphia and this is a shining example of one. A local place that was vital along the Underground Railroad this place is a must to visit. Experience 18th and 19th century history through the events and lives of people associated with Belmont Mansion in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, PA. Our house museum is dedicated to colonial history and the 19th century network of people and places known as the “underground railroad.” Built in the early eighteenth century, the Mansion is one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in the United States. The Belmont Mansion property became part of Fairmount Park in 1869, and is now an underground railroad museum open to the public for tours.
This Philadelphia landmark is actually Pennsylvania’s oldest African-American theatre. Built in 1853 by actor Edwin Forrest this monument went through a variety of changes before becoming the renowned African American art institution it is today. Some of the most famed musicians and actors have traveled through these hollowed walls including Denzel Washington, James Baldwin, and Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men. Aside from classes the Freedom Theatre also presents live shows.
Built in 1768 The Johnson House is the oldest existing year-round homes in Germantown. It’s living proof that the Underground Railroad passed right through Philadelphia. Samuel and Jennet Johnson promoted their anti-slavery beliefs by offering their home as a station on the Underground Railroad. They provided sanctuary, food, clothing, and transportation to untold numbers of African freedom seekers. Tradition holds that prominent abolitionists William Still and Harriet Tubman visited the Johnson House. Now you can see first hand just how significant this home was in Black History.
Step into history while visiting one of America’s first Black churches which was founded in 1794 by Richard Allen and dedicated by Bishop Francis Asbury that same year. ‘By 1795, Bethel’s congregation numbered 121 and ten years later it was up to 457. In 1799, Allen was ordained to the office of deacon, making him the first ordained Black person in the MEC. Also in 1795, the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society appealed for Richard Allen’s support to assist thirty runaway Jamaican slaves. He provided the church as a place of refuge and aided in the training and integration of the runaways into the black community. The first church continued to provide shelter for runaway slaves.
Open to the public free of charge, the Library Company houses an extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, broadsides, ephemera, prints, photographs, and works of art. Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company is America’s oldest cultural institution and served as the Library of Congress from the Revolutionary War to 1800. The Library Company was the largest public library in America until the Civil War. Among the multitude of books here you’ll find 13,000-piece Afro-American Collection, which includes documents and books about slavery and abolitionism, Frederick Douglass’ narratives, portraits of African-American leaders and other artifacts.
Normally we try to avoid sending visitors to tourist traps but this one had to be included. This month the National Constitution Center is celebrating Black History Month in a variety of ways. You’ll get the historical lessons without the traditional museum feel with NCC’s interactive displays and awesome visual effects. This month at the National Constitution Center, experience a variety of programs in honor of African American History Month. Explore the Museum’s The Story of We the People exhibit to discover key milestones in African-American history. During daily interactive programs, visitors can learn about the lives of African-American leaders, the history behind the Emancipation Proclamation, and more.
Feb. 2nd | Community College of Philadelphia
The 27th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair will take place Saturday, February 2, 2019, from 1p.m. – 4 p.m., at Community College of Philadelphia, 17th and Spring Garden streets, Philadelphia, Pa. The event is free and open to the public.
The African American Children’s Book Fair is one of the oldest and largest single-day events for African-American children’s books in the country, with an average yearly attendance of more than 3,500. The event features nationally known bestselling authors/illustrators, many of whom have won some of the most prestigious American Library Association awards including the Coretta Scott King Award. These authors/illustrators have produced some of the best books of our generation.
Feb. 9th | St. Malachy’s Church
Brunch celebrating Black History with Spoken Word by Clydie Jones, Christian Dance by Evelyn Avinger, Music by Earl Knight and a one woman play by Beacon Theatre Productions entitled “Letters to Aunt Hattie”, Good food, Vendors, Games, Fun!!!
Feb. 9th | Independence Seaport Museum
Join Independence Seaport Museum and Moonstone Arts Center as we celebrate Black History Month with a discussion about African-American women’s struggles for freedom and equal rights 400 years since the first recorded introduction of slavery in America. Panelists include: Dr. Nyasha Junior, Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Temple University Dr. M. Nzadi Keita, Associate Professor of English, Coordinator of African American Studies at Ursinus College.
Feb. 10th | Various Locations
Feb. 16-17th | The African American Museum
In partnership with Theatre in the X, The African American Museum in Philadelphia presents THE COLORED MUSEUM. Set in a fictional museum where iconic African-American figures are kept for public consumption, THE COLORED MUSEUM and its eleven “exhibits” undermine black stereotypes old and new and return to the facts of what being black means. This performance will electrify, discomfort, and delight audiences of all colors while also redefining our ideas of what it means to be black in contemporary America.
The performance will begin at 3:30 pm on Saturday, February 16th. If you’re unable to attend, there will be a second showing of the performance at 6:00 pm on Sunday, February 17th. Limited tickets for this event will be available. Don’t wait, grab your tickets today!
These performances are a part of Theatre Philadelphia’s Theatre Week.
Feb. 19th | The Museum of American Revolution
Who tells your story? Archaeologists lay out the groundwork for discovering how the roots of Philadelphia’s vibrant African American community found liberty in local sites. Learn about how unexpected stories can be unearthed from places like cemeteries, buildings, maps, and genealogy through different hands-activities, gallery tours, and presenters. Join Mother Bethel AME Church and Terry Buckalew with the Bethel Burying Ground Project as they share stories of those who had been lost to time. Bring along an object to participate in a pop-up museum to display what you feel best represents your story.
Feb. 22nd . | Woodmere Museum
Feb 23rd-May | Taller Puertorriqueño
Since 1997, the Annual Arturo A. Schomburg Symposium explores the complex relationship of the African Diaspora to Latinx cultures. With presentations by distinguished scholars, this event offers the opportunity to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the African Diaspora in the Americas and foster dialogue, educating audiences and speakers alike.
Feb. 25th | The Franklin Institute
The Black History Month Trivia Challenge is a fundraiser dedicated to celebrating contributions from members of the African Diaspora to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
In collaboration with The Franklin Institute, the Alumni Association for the museum’s youth leadership program, Partnerships for Achieving Careers and Technology and Science (PACTS), will host the 1st Annual Black History Challenge to raise funds for youth programming, initiatives, and scholarship.
This game show style contest will be hosted during Community Night, a special monthly event at the Franklin Institute where museum admission is FREE for all visitors after 5pm. It is a great opportunity to celebrate Black History, while supporting the future generations of leaders in STEM.