Since 1976, the United States has set aside February as Black History Month. Here’s where to take part in the celebration of African American history, culture and heritage in the Philadelphia area.
African Roots Series
Jan. 31 and Feb. 16
The Annenberg Center’s African Roots series presents a performance from Grammy-winning South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo on Jan. 31st, followed by music from the Soweto Gospel Choir on Feb. 16th.
African American History Month: Healing African Dance
Feb. 23, 2 p.m.
Choreographer and former Fulbright Scholar Angela Watson will explore the healing aspect of African dance through lecture, demonstration and video. A selection of the museum’s collection of African instruments will be on display as well.
While the African American museum’s primary focus is, of course, the history and legacy of African Americans, they have some special events planned for February.
On Feb. 1st, kick off Black History Month with a screening and discussion of “The Contradictions of Fair Hope,” an award-winning documentary narrated by Whoopi Goldberg.
Then, “Step into South Africa!” on February 8th with a celebration of South African languages, music, religion and rites of passage.
Finally, make sure to check out “The Unflinching Eye: Works of the Tiberino Family Circle,” on display through March 30th.
Feb. 28, 2 p.m.
Philadanco, a Philly nonprofit that focuses predominantly on African dance traditions, joins with The Philadelphia Orchestra for this tale centering on the goddess Diana.
Diversities in the Arts of the African Diaspora
Feb. 28, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Odili Donald Odita – an artist, professor and writer who studies contemporary art of Africa – will lead this conversation on how artists use color, pattern and music to create diverse art forms.
“The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess”
The Tony Award-winning production comes to the Kimmel Center this February and includes hits like “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”
Historic Philadelphia: Once Upon A Nation
Storytellers will share the tales of important African Americans in history, including early Civil Rights activist Octavius Catto.
Independence National Historical Park Tours
Explore the Underground Railroad during these 30-minute tours conducted every Saturday and Sunday in the Second Bank’s Portrait Gallery. There will also be a wreath-laying ceremony at the Liberty Bell in honor of National Freedom Day, when Lincoln signed the resolution from Congress that outlawed slavery.
Mood Indigo: A Harlem Renaissance Retrospective
During this installation of the PMA’s popular Art After 5 program, Dandy Wellington and His Band will amp up the crowd with compositions by Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Fats Walter and more.
Take a look into the lives of extraordinary African-American historical figures during a variety of programs to honor Black History Month.
Saturday Movie Matinees
Saturdays in February
Join the Free Library of Philadelphia for several February Movie Matinees spotlighting African American History. The month begins with “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” on Feb. 1st, continues with “Ali” on Feb. 8th, then comes to a close with “Marian Anderson – Portrait of an Artist on Feb. 15th. Just take note – children and teens will only be admitted to “Ali” with their parents or guardians.
World Culture Afternoon: Annual Celebration of African Cultures
Feb. 8, 1 – 4 p.m.
With everything from African music and dance to storytelling and art, guests at the Penn Museum can celebrate the cultures of the continent at this event, which is now in its 25th year. Plus, don’t forget to check out the ongoing exhibit, “Black Bodies in Propaganda,” before it comes to an end March 2nd.