From Museums to Tours: 11 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Philly This FebruaryFeb 07, 2024 02:00PM ● By Gift Joe
Image by Freepik
February is Black History Month, a time to commemorate the many contributions of Black figures throughout history. It’s also a month where we get to reflect on the Black experience. As one of America’s oldest and most culturally diverse cities, there are several ways one can celebrate Black history in Philadelphia. Whether you’re a college student looking for things to do, or a tourist ready to explore, Philadelphia offers so many exciting activities that will keep you busy all through the month.
From tours to museum exhibits and more, here are some of the ways to celebrate Black History Month in Philadelphia.
1. Explore African American Museums
Philadelphia is home to several museums that celebrate African American history. You can visit the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) to explore exhibits, artifacts, and cultural events that highlight the rich heritage of African Americans. This February, there will be a collaborative exhibition Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America on display at the AAMP.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is also celebrating Black History Month throughout February with a series of events and activities that pay homage to the legacy and richness of Black art and culture in the city of Philadelphia.
2. Visit Historical Sites
One way to celebrate Black History Month is to explore landmarks, churches, and other historical sites related to African American history, such as the Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, the first African Methodist Episcopal church in the country, and the Johnson House, a stop on the Underground Railroad. These sites tell of the successes, struggles, and contributions of African Americans through the centuries.
3. Enjoy The Black Journey Philadelphia Walking Tour
Experience the sights, monuments, and stories that make up Philly’s Black history during The Black Journey guided tours. It offers two different tours of Philadelphia’s Black history - one of the historic Old City and another of the old 7th Ward. Learn about African Americans’ role in the founding of America during the Old City tour. On the other hand, the Seventh Ward Tour tells the story behind this formerly thriving community, highlighting the work of some of Philly’s most celebrated Black figures like W.E.B. Du Bois and Octavius Catto. The guided tours run up to two hours and tickets are required.
4. Experience The Black Cinema Weekend at the Philadelphia Film Center
You can join the Philadelphia Film Society for a weekend celebrating Black cinema. There will be different programs showcasing noteworthy Black filmmakers. It also offers a few networking opportunities for local filmmakers.
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5. Attend Cultural Performances
Enjoy performances that celebrate African American culture, including dance, music, and theater. One such event will be held at the National Liberty Museum, where you will be taken on a journey through the art, music, and influence of hip-hop culture, and how it was shaped by Black history.
6. Attend Black History Month Events at the Free Library
Join the Free Library of Philadelphia during Black History Month as they celebrate the rich heritage, culture, and achievements of African Americans. There will be several events that entertain and inspire at various locations throughout February. Some of the events include informational sessions and activities on topics like food, local archaeology, gardening, bucket drumming, and famous Black authors. There is something to learn for everyone.
7. Take Part in Educational Workshops
Several workshops delve into the history, contributions, and challenges faced by the African American community this February. Participating in one or more of these is one way to celebrate this year’s Black History Month in Philadelphia. Look for workshops covering various aspects of Black history, social justice, and cultural awareness.
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8. Culinary Experiences
While educating your mind, do not forget to feed your stomach. Explore the culinary contributions of the African American community by dining at restaurants that offer traditional and modern Black dishes. You can also be a part of food festivals or cooking demonstrations that celebrate Black culinary heritage. This February, the Free Library of Philadelphia will be hosting cooking classes that explore the ingredients and flavors of traditional African and African American cuisine. Have a taste of African heritage as you discover the flavors of Africa to the diaspora at Parkway Central Library’s Culinary Literacy Center.
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9. Support Black-Owned Businesses
There are countless vibrant Black-owned businesses, including restaurants, shops, and art galleries in Philadelphia. Have it in mind to support these establishments during Black History Month and beyond. If you need to grab a snack or coffee, make it a point to get it from a Black-owned shop. The skincare store in Rittenhouse will partner with Black-owned businesses for Black History Month. You can shop candle fragrances, graphic T-shirts, and others.
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10. Attend Exhibitions
Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia. Source: Visitphilly.com
Many galleries and cultural institutions host special exhibits during Black History Month. Make it a point to attend one of these exhibits showcasing the works of Black artists. The National Constitution Center will be exhibiting the multifaceted 13th Amendment. The display will also highlight pivotal Black historical figures and relevant artifacts. You can visit to be a part of this.
11. Visit a Black-owned Bookstore in Philadelphia
Are you a lover of books? There’s something for you too. To commemorate Black History Month this February, Visit Philadelphia launched Little Free(dom) Library, an initiative encouraging visitors and residents to explore Black history and narratives. 13 Little Free Libraries will house banned books by Black authors, making these stories accessible and available to both visitors and residents. You can also pay a visit to Harriett’s Bookshop, a lovely, Black-owned bookstore in Fishtown whose name pays homage to historical heroine Harriett Tubman, as well as women authors, leaders, artists, and activists.
Other Black-Owned Bookstores:
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