With Black History Month upon us, Philadelphians won’t struggle to find special programming, events and venues that are celebrating. While some places celebrate black history all year long, this month provides even more reasons to explore, learn about and enjoy African American culture and history throughout at these top Philadelphia spots.
American Theater Arts for Youth: Black Journey
Monday, Feb. 13 – Wednesday, Feb. 15
Price: $13.50 per person with group discount rates available
Celebrate Black History Month with a musical experience worthy of the rich history behind the occasion. This show commemorates the high-spirited exhilaration and cultural heritage that is behind Black History Month, and it happens to be touring in Philadelphia at just the right time. Find more information about the American Theater Arts for Youth and “Black Journey.”
Free at the Kimmel Presents Bash the Trash: African Folktales
Saturday, February 18 at 11 a.m.
For some family-friendly programming, head to the Kimmel Center for free entertainment put on by Bash The Trash, an organization that promotes environmental awareness by making instruments from recycled materials. You will hear African folk tales told with voice and instruments that would typically be found across the African continent, and not only will you learn about a famous character, you’ll take home your own instrument! Find out more about the event, and the environmental arts initiative at the Bash the Trash website. The Kimmel Center usually features a number of Black History events, so check their schedule throughout February.
Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit
Hours: Jan. 28 – Apr. 15: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Price: Adults, $15; Seniors (60+) or Students with ID, $12; Youth (13 – 18), $10; Kids 12 and Under, FREE
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) explores the life and work of African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner through a definitive retrospective of his career. The exhibit includes more than 100 pieces, including the two known sculptures Tanner completed, 12 paintings that have never been shown in a Tanner retrospective and his career-making Resurrection of Lazarus, which is making its first trip to the continent. Tanner, who lived in Philadelphia after the Civil War, studied at PAFA.
Hours: Monday – Friday: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Price: Adults: $14.50, Seniors (65+) and Students (with ID): $13, Kids (4-12): $8, Kids under 4: FREE
Celebrate Black History Month with the National Constitution Center! Take a look into the lives of Thurgood Marshall, Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson, and other African Americans in history in the “Breaking Barriers” show. Visitors can also get a look at the rare printing of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, to learn more about its history, the Civil War, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Guests also can tour the Center’s main exhibition, “The Story of We the People,” which highlights important moments in black history.
Philadelphia Historic African American Tours
Departs from the Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.; Tours are by reservation only
Price: Adults: $30, Children: $15, Seniors, students, military: $25
Take a bus tour of African-American sites across the city that departs from the Independence Visitor Center, and learn just how enmeshed African American and traditional history are in Philadelphia. When the weather can be chilly outside in February, this tour is a comfortable option for those who want to visit multiple historical attractions across the city.
Related: African American Mural Tour
Hours: Wed thru Sat: 10am – 5pm Sunday: 12 Noon – 5 PM
Price: Adults, $10. Youth, Students and Senior Citizens, $8
While a destination for black history year-long, the African American Museum is an excellent place to visit in honor of this month. With the Philadelphia History Museum closed, the museum is likely to pick up its programming and offer Black History Month special events in addition to its permanent exhibits. The museum is committed to the promotion and preservation of African American history and culture, especially that which originates from Philadelphia.
Related article: African American Museum Mixes Metaphors
Independence National Historical Park, Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall
Bounded by Chestnut, Walnut, 2nd, and 6th Sts
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Hours: Tours must be arranged
Price: Free, extra cost to enter buildings
Called “America’s most historic square mile,” this site boasts enough black history to keep you busy for at least a day. Since opening just last year in Independence Park, “The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation,” is an open-air exhibition with video, archeology and architecture that tells the story of nine of President George Washington’s slaves. There are sure to be programs and events surrounding the Park and other historic attractions in Philadelphia, so plan accordingly to be in the area at some point in February. Another place to stop by while you’re at Independence National Historical Park is the Independence Visitor Center, where you can find out more about these events and other cultural places to visit in the city.
For more Black History Month events, click here.
Lindsay Lewis is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.