There will be various events and tributes held in the city honoring the legacies of African Americans who have made extraordinary contributions to our culture and country, including local trailblazers.
By Afea Tucker
Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of Blacks in U.S. history.
In Philadelphia, the month is about reflecting upon history and infusing highlights of the present work of native Black entertainers and innovators.
Last Saturday’s 28th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair marked the start of the month long observance and activities that will occur for the month of February. The African American Children’s Book Fair is one of the oldest and largest single-day events for African-American children’s books in the country. It has an average yearly attendance of more than 3,500 people and is free and open to the public. The fair highlights icons who help young readers to discover their rich heritage.
Check out the following upcoming events going on in Philadelphia:
The African American Museum of Philadelphia
The African American Museum of Philadelphia’s (AAMP), Black History Now is back. Saturday, February 8, the museum will host its family fun day from 11am until 3pm. This event is great for ages five and up.
Family Fun Day at AAMP is sponsored by Rivers Gives, the community relations volunteer program at Rivers Casino Philadelphia, incorporating an exciting lineup of interactive workshops and art making festive activities for enjoyable and memorable for the entire family.
AAMP will also partner with Reading Terminal Market on the same day to offer an expanded Fun Day experience at the terminal. Creating a space to enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of African American culture & culinary traditions.
Activities for the day include, Black History trivia, Black culture scavenger hunt, drum procession and performance by Karen Smith, and cooking demos with Christina McCoy at 11 AM and Nina Bryan at 1pm which will take place at Reading Terminal Market.
The first 250 people will receive free entry to the museum for this event on Saturday.As part of their full Black History Month programming, AAMP presents Films at AAMP: In Conversation Shorts Sunday, February 9 at 3pm. The tickets are free for AAMP Members, $7 in advance, $12 general admission and $5 for students.
For more information, visit: www.aamp.org.
The Free Library of Philadelphia
Several branches of The Free Library of Philadelphia across the city will recognize Black History Month with various interactive programming and events to highlight the achievements of Blacks in our city and country from the past to the present. Sit in or engage in lectures and Q&A about historical facts and occurrences.
On Saturday, February 8, all are welcomed to meet in the Rare Book Department at the Parkway Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, located at 1901 Vine Street, 3rd floor, for “Hands-on History Presents: The Elite of Our People,” a conversation and presentation that will take place between 2pm and 3pm.
Vistors can interact with rarely seen archives and artifacts that speak to the Philadelphia community once described as “The Elite of Our People” by Black resident Joseph Willson in the 1840s.
Attendees will have the opportunity to handle photographs, illustrations, and documents that illustrate some of the schools, churches, and entertainment that middle-class African Americans enjoyed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and discuss how these objects speak to today’s Philadelphia. For more information, visit: https://libwww.freelibrary.org/locations/parkway-central-library.
On Tuesday February 11 at 1:30pm, the Chestnut Hill Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia is scheduled to host “An African Famiily’s Experience of Slavery, Repression and Struggle.” Hear stories told by Willadine Bain about her great grandmother and grandparents, her ex -slave grandfather who became a Savannah millionaire, her grandmother’s first husband who died in a duel, and about the precious gold necklace, a family heirloom.
For more information, visit: https://libwww.freelibrary.org/locations/chestnut-hill-library.
• The Temple University Library presents “At the Blockson Collection: Precious Places Community, A history project of Charles L. Blockson, Afro-American Collection. “
• A film screening of “We One — The Love and Life of Norris Homes” will take place at 1330 Polett Walk on Tuesday February 18 at 2pm. The film documents the history of a North Philadelphia public housing community affected by federal policy and is told from the perspective of former residents who lived at Norris going back to its earliest days in the 1950s.
The Precious Places Community History Project is a community oral history project inviting members of the Philadelphia region’s many neighborhoods to document the buildings, public spaces, parks, landmarks, and other sites that hold the memories of our communities and define where they live.
For more information, visit: www.scribe.org/precious-places-community-history-project.
The Library Company of Philadelphia
During Black History Month, a special collection review is taking place at the Library Company of Philadelphia, 1340 Locust Street.
Honor the life and legacy of Fredrick Douglass, Wednesday February 19 at 2:30pm.
The Collection Review with Jasmine Smith, an African American history specialist will explore the life of Frederick Douglass; noted the most photographed man during the 19th century. Douglass, a well-known African American abolitionist is
celebrated for his dedication to fighting for justice and equality for African Americans. This review will focus on a range of materials related to his effort to uplift the Black community.
For more information, visit: www. librarycompany.org.
Diversified Community Services, in conjunction with the South Philly Branch of the Free Library
Diversified Community Services is partnering with the South Philly Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia to encourage teens to gather for free movie screenings and conversations this month. The conversations will be led by teens for teens.
Their Black History programming consists of a Saturday series of free movie screenings starting with “Black Panther” on February 15 at 2p.m. at the Free Library of Philadelphia South Philly Branch, located at. 1700 S. Broad Street.
Other films in the series include, “Let the Fire Burn” (screening & discussion) on February 22, at 2p.m., and “Malcolm X” on February 29 at 2p.m.
For more information, visit: https://libwww.freelibrary.org/locations/south-philadelphia-library.
Kimmel Center Cultural Campus
You can celebrate Black History Month at the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus this month. The Kimmel Center’s February programming will include renowned Broadway, Jazz, R&B, and chamber musicians.
Its Jazz4Freedom education program teaches 4th graders about the Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Movement, and modern-day social heroes. They are also scheduling events for children of all ages.
Along with resident company support from The Philly POPS and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Kimmel Center will celebrate Black History Month with many free and ticketed programming honoring African American artistic expression and culture.
To honor the Queen of Soul — Aretha Franklin — The Philly POPS will feature Broadway powerhouse Capathia Jenkins and R&B singer Ryan Shaw in a program that includes renditions of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Respect: and “Chain of Fools.” The “Aretha: RESPECT” play will run from February 14 -16.
For more information, visit: www.kimmelcenter.org.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Halima Taha, author of “Collecting African American Art: Works on Paper and Canvas,” is visiting the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and will lead a lively discussion about how and why fine art created by Black artists has become so widely sought after by art collectors and museums in the past two decades.
Her conversation is free and open to all, Wednesday, February 12, from noon to 1pm. The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is located at 118 North Broad Street.
For more information, visit: www.pafa.org/events/collecting-african-american-art-021220.
Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution debuts History After Hours Tuesday, February 11 from 5pm-8pm. This edition of the museum’s History After Hours will examine the concept of revolution through the lens of Black history. Award-winning journalist, Sofiya Ballin will reveal her latest installment of her annual Black History Untold series, featuring Black individuals telling their own stories of resistance and revolution. Other activities will include crafts and live music. As an added bonus guests at History After Hours will enjoy just $10 admission cost.
For more information, visit: www.amrevmuseum.org.
The National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center located at 525 Arch Street celebrates the anniversary with an entire month of programming, including “The Road to Freedom,” an interactive program that examines slavery, key events, and important historical figures from the time of the Constitutional Convention to the Civil War.
Get ready to explore the Civil War and Reconstruction if you visit. It is the first exhibit in the country to explore the amendments to the U.S. Constitution that ended slavery and promised equality to all Americans in the years after the Civil War.
For more information, visit: www.amrevmuseum.org.
The Franklin Institute
Here’s another fun and exciting event for early learners teens, and young adults. The PACTS Alumni Association presents the Youth Black History Challenge, Saturday, February 8, from 11am – 3pm at the Franklin Institute, located at 222 N. 20th Street on the Parkway in Center City.
In collaboration with the Franklin Institute, the alumni association of the museum’s youth leadership program and the Partnerships for Achieving Careers in Technology and Science (PACTS), will host the 2nd annual Youth Black History Challenge. This event supports future generations of STEM leaders while celebrating Black History Month.
For more information, visit: www.fi.edu.
Please Touch Museum
A special evening to honor the impact of the city’s most influential Black leaders will be back and better than before. The Please Touch Museum will host the annual Voices of Hope Black History Month celebration, February 20 at 6pm.
For more information, visit: www.pleasetouchmuseum.org.
The Mann Center for the Performing Arts
This season, the Mann partnered with fellow Parkside neighbor and non-profit, Please Touch Museum, to bring a community-driven program closer to home in the Fairmount Park community.
As part of the 2020 program, “Voices of Hope” continues its tradition of honoring influential Philadelphians, with a new focus on honoring innovators in the health and wellness field. For more information about honorees and tickets visit: www.eventbrite.com/e/voices-of-hope-a-black-history-month-celebration-presented-by-nemours-registration-85294442975