It’s impossible to fully capture centuries of black history in one month, but each year for Black History Month, opportunities abound in the Philly area to showcase as much of it as possible. From events at local cultural institutions and museums, to dance performances and book talks, Philadelphians of all backgrounds can explore the astonishing histories and adversities, and the rich cultural experiences and contributions, of black people throughout American history.
If you’re interested in learning, discussing, dancing, or just expressing joy, there’s something for everyone this Black History Month. Here are just a few ways to celebrate this year.
Where: Asian Arts Initiative | 1219 Vine Street · Philadelphia, Pa.When: Opening Reception takes place on Friday, Feb. 3, 6 – 8 p.m.; exhibition runs Feb. 3 – April 21, 2017The exhibition features 20 artists explore both the tension and solidarity between Black and Asian communities through painting, photography, sculpture, and video.
Where: Merriam Theater, 250 S Broad St, Philadelphia Pa.When: Friday, Feb. 3 – Saturday, Feb. 4Cost: $26 – $130Kicking off the first weekend of Black History Month, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform works inspired by the speeches and sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a three-part work about African American families in the prison system from MacArthur Genius Kyle Abraham.
Where: Merriam Theater, 250 S Broad St, Philadelphia Pa.When: Wednesday, Feb. 8, 11 a.m.Cost: FreeFor all ages, this high-spirited performance blends modern and jazz dance that pays tribute to music icons, Prince, and the Earth Wind and Fire.
Where: Community College of Philadelphia, 1700 Spring GardenWhen: Saturday, Feb. 4, 1 – 4 p.m.Cost: FreeEach year, the African American Book Fair spotlights African American children’s authors and illustrators in what’s known as “one of the oldest and largest single-day events for children’s books in the country.” Thousands are expected to attend panels and the opportunity to participate in giveaways and games.
Where: International House Philadelphia, 3701 Chestnut StreetWhen: Thursday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m.Cost: Free for IHP Members, $8 for students and seniors, and $10 for general publicThe first feature film by the Sankofa Film and Video collective (Territories, Looking for Langston), The Passion of Remembrance is a multi-layered look at issues of concern to Black youth during the turbulent 1980’s.
Where: South Jazz Parlor, 600 North Broad St., PhiladelphiaWhen: Friday, Feb. 17 and Saturday, Feb. 18, 8 – 10 p.m.Cost: $5 – 10Philadelphia jazz vocalist Laurin Talese celebrates decades of the iconic Nancy Wilson’s expansive catalog during this carefully curated experience.
Where: Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine StreetWhen: Thursday, February 23, 7:30p.m.Cost: FREEAuthor and professor, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, will talk about her new book, “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge,” the story of a young slave who risks her life to escape servitude under the first American president.
Where: Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage, 504 Market St. Wilmington, Del.When: Jan. 4, 2017 – Dec. 30, 2017Cost: Adults: $6, Seniors (65+)/Military/student (with I.D.): $5, Children (3-18): $4 (2 & under free). Admission is waived the first Friday of each month.The comprehensive exhibition introduces a general overview of the state’s history from the 1600s to the present. Journey to Freedom features the history of African Americans from the first known African brought to Delaware by the Swedes in the 1600s called “Black Anthony,” to Delaware Poets Laureate, brothers Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills.
Where: WHYY Studios, the Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons, 150 N. Sixth St., PhiladelphiaWhen: Tuesday, Feb. 28, 5:30 p.m.Tickets: $30; $10 (students)Partnering with Philadelphia Media Network (philly.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Philadelphia Daily News), WHYY will celebrate Black History Month by expanding on the month-long project Black History Untold: Joy. There will be live entertainment and a panel of guests to expound on the theme of black joy, co-moderated by Lehigh University professor and host of WHYY’s “The Remix” podcast, Dr. James Peterson, and the lead writer of the project, the Inquirer’s Sofiya Ballin.