February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and recognizing their role in U.S. history. There are a number of ways both in person and virtual to honor Black History Month in Philadelphia and the nearby area, so we’ve put a list together of some of the highlights:
Visit an Exhibit/Attraction
“Awakened in You: The Collection of Dr. Constance Clayton” at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia
This exhibit opened in 2020, shortly before the pandemic lockdowns. As a result, instead of closing in the summer as planned, it was extended until April 4, 2021. The exhibit displays more than 75 works by African American artists from the collection of Dr. Constance E. Clayton, an educator and arts advocate. The collection features mostly paintings and works on paper, and also include sculptures by Richmond Barthé and Augusta Savage.
Reserved tickets are required and can be purchased HERE.
The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia
Museum guests can learn about the lives and contributions of influential African Americans in science with new bio-sketch installations within exhibits that relate to their particular STEM field. Learn about:
Loni Philip Tabb, Ph.D Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Drexel University
Found by the Philadelphia Map in the Giant Heart exhibit
Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer at The Franklin Institute
Found in Telescope Hall
Katherine Johnson, NASA Research Mathematician
Found in Sir Issac’s Loft exhibit
Barrington Irving, first Black and first Jamaican-born American record-holder for the youngest person to pilot a plane around the world solo
Found in the hallway outside of the Air Show exhibit
Guion Bluford, Ph.D, first African American to go to space
Found in the Space Command Exhibit
James West, American inventor and acoustician
Found in the Electricity exhibit
Albert Hicks, M.D. Cardiology Specialist in Philadelphia
Found adjacent to the Giant Heart exhibit
Nadja West, M.D. 44th Surgeon General of the United States Army and former Commanding General of the United States Army Medical Command.
Found in the Brain Exhibit
In addition, The Franklin Institute is hosting several virtual events honoring Black History Month.
Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia
Celebrate Black History Month and explore the stories of unsung Revolutionaries with the Museum this February. In the Museum’s galleries and through special virtual events for all ages, experience a fuller and more inclusive history of the nation’s beginnings and discover that the Revolutionary story is for everyone.
Among the exhibits, you’ll find a new artifact on display – the discharge of an African American soldier, signed by General George Washington.
There is also a new 25-minute film that you can see daily in the Museum’s Lenfest-Myer Theater. “Meet Elizabeth Freeman” is a one-woman theatrical performance based on the life of Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, an enslaved woman who sued for her freedom and won.
Pearl S. Buck International, Perkasie
Pearl S. Buck was a staunch civil rights ally. Learn about her activism for civil rights and other human rights issues on a Taking Action Tour of the Pearl S. Buck National Historic Landmark House, offered Tuesday-Sunday. Schedule a “Taking Action” tour HERE.
Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square
Now through March 21, Longwood Gardens presents “Deeply Rooted with Storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston.” Embark on a beautifully poignant journey with storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston as she honors and celebrates the strength, resilience, and contributions of the African American community through the lens of horticulture and the power of story. Through a series of 10 stops—experienced in-person throughout the Gardens via your phone or virtually from home—surround yourself in her moving spoken word and the stillness around you.
The Colonial Theatre, Phoenixville
During the month of February, The Colonial Theatre will be celebrating African American directors and their stories. Starting February 5, they’ll be screening John Singleton’s “Poetic Justice” with Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur. You can purchase tickets for public viewings, or schedule a private screening. Each week will feature a different film. See the list, film times, and purchase tickets HERE.
National Constitution Center
Celebrate African American History Month online with the National Constitution Center. Resources include free classes, virtual tours, and a filmed conversation with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
African American Museum of Bucks County
Join the African American Museum of Bucks County on Friday, February 19 for an online screening and discussion event hosted by Emmy nominated Writer and Director, Rob Child. The film, “Serving for Justice,” tells the untold stories of heroism of African American soldiers in WWII and the the racial discrimination and hostility they faced both prior to and after the war. It exposes important history that was hidden from most Americans. Proceeds benefit the AAMBC virtual programs initiative. Purchase tickets and find out more HERE.
Plus, you can follow the African American Museum of Bucks County on Facebook, where they share stories of the central role African Americans have played in our nation’s history.
The African American Museum in Philadelphia
The African American Museum is a natural choice to visit during Black History Month. Unfortunately, the museum is closed until further notice due to the pandemic. However, they are continuing to educate and inspire through a number of online events and workshops. Among these events, you’ll find: Theatre in the X, Hip Hop Jazz Musicology, Movers and Makers with WHYY, and more.
View the calendar and register HERE.
Bucks County Community College
To celebrate Black History Month, the College’s office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is hosting several free virtual events including: Contemporary Black Women Inventors on Feb. 10, and A Focus on Business – Collaboration between artist Liz Montague and Google art director Angelica McKinley on Feb. 12. Find out more HERE, and follow along on Facebook for additional info.
Bristol Riverside Theatre – 21 Day Anti-Racism Challenge
Co-Producing Director Amy Kaissar has curated a free 21 Day Anti-Racism Challenge that will begin February 8. Each day, for 21 days, you’ll get an email with a link to a video, a podcast, a question, etc. Some will take 2-3 minutes to complete. Some may take a week. Over 21 days you’ll build new habits to become actively anti-racist. Find out more and register HERE.
Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution recently reopened. But in addition to the Museum’s galleries, they are also offering special virtual events for all ages – including a History Explorers Club Virtual Playdate. You can even take a Virtual Museum Tour if you’d like to view the galleries from the comfort of your home.
Find out more HERE.
The Franklin Institute
In addition to exhibits within the museum, The Franklin Institute is also hosting several virtual events for Black History Month including Night Skies @ Home with Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts on Feb. 4; Engineering for Good with Dr. Darryl Williams on February 21; and PACTS Black History Virtual Challenge on February 27.
Find out more about these virtual events and check out links to youtube videos and more HERE.
Free Library of Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia has put together a list of more than a dozen virtual events for all ages in honor of Black History Month including discussion groups, live readings, trivia, film discussions and more. Take a look at the Calendar of Events HERE.
The Kimmel Center
The Kimmel Center is celebrating Black History Month with a variety of digital programs. These events shine a spotlight on the music of the Civil Rights Movement as well as modern day struggles for equality, the cultural enlightenment of the Harlem Renaissance, and offer experiences for all ages with a “Hip Hop Recess” that moves the body while offering morsels of history about Hip Hop, the dynamic dance form from the 1970’s.
The MÜtter Museum
The MÜtter Museum is hosting an online discussion with The College of Physician’s Section on Public Health and Preventative Medicine titled “Racism is a Public Health Issue: Now What?” on February 17.
Racism is a public health issue, a fact declared by all major public health groups, including APHA, PPHA, and NAM to name a few. As the birthplace of our nation, of modern medicine, and as a leader in education, the City of Philadelphia has a long and storied past with racism and structural inequities. How will we reconcile our past with our present to better the health of our communities?
Register for the event HERE.
ACME Screening Room
An online screening of “17 Blocks” starting February 19.
Hunterdon County Historical Society
In honor of Black History Month, The Hunterdon County Historical Society will host a free virtual program on African-American patriot Jacob Francis, who fought alongside Continental soldiers during the American Revolution.
Author and historian William “Larry” Kidder will discuss Francis’s life on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. To reserve a space, visit the historical society’s website at www.hunterdonhistory.org. Find out more about the event HERE.
Hunterdon County Library
Hunterdon County Library invites residents with a library card to celebrate #BlackExcellence with free online screenings of films by Black directors.
For little ones, stop by Headquarters, North County or South County Branch for a Listen Take and Make. Starting February 5, you can listen to the story “Mae Among the Stars” @HCL Youtube or on the Facebook page. Then, pick up a simple craft of an astronaut at the library.
Read a Book
Bucks County Free Library has put together several lists of suggested reading during Black History Month. These lists are divided by category and age group, making it easy to find what you’re looking for.
Similarly, Philadelphia Free Library has put together lists such as: