From the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement

It’s February which means it’s Black History Month! The month is an opportunity for every American to learn, reflect, and celebrate the contributions African Americans have made throughout history.

Initially started as a week-long observance in 1926 by historian and author Carter G. Woodson, the educational celebration grew to its current month-long format in 1976. Woodson wrote that accurately teaching history would empower — and that inaccurately presenting a revisionist version of history would be oppressive.

All month long in Philadelphia, events that highlight contributions across politics, art, and culture are taking place. Here are a few happening across the city!

Photography Exhibit Opening Reception: Church of Broken Pieces & Harlem, USA
African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street
Thursday, February 2 | 6:30 p.m.
You’re invited to join the African American Museum in Philadelphia as we open two stunning and moving photography exhibitions exploring the true depth and beauty of historically African American neighborhoods, Shawn Theodore: Church of Broken Pieces and Dawoud Bey: Harlem, USA. This reception is free and open to the public and will include wine and light fare. RSVP online.

African Dance Workshop
Wednesdays: February 1, 8, and 15 | 6:30 p.m.
Greater Olney Library, 5501 N. 5th Street (at Tabor Road)
Join in for an educational and interactive class led by an instructor. This program is for teens and adults.

A Taste of History: Learning about George Crum, African American Inventor of the Potato Chip
Thursday, February 2 | 4:30 p.m.
Whitman Library, 200 Snyder Avenue
Come listen to a reading of The Greatest Potatoes, a picture book detailing the life of George Crum, inventor of the potato chip. Then we’ll sample different potato chips and vote on our favorite flavors! Children, teens, and families are welcome to attend this special Black History Month program.

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin
Thursday, February 2 | 7:30 p.m.
Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin discuss the events before, during, and after the death of their son, Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman on the evening of February 26, 2012. Fulton and Martin will be joined by Errin Haines Whack, an award-winning reporter for The Associated Press covering race and politics. This discussion is free and open to the public.


Monday Poets: Janice A. Lowe & Dr. Herman Beavers
Tuesday, February 6 | 6:30 p.m.
Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street
Monday Poets is presented in Room 108 at Parkway Central on the first Monday of every month.  Moderated by Lamont Dixon, the free reading this month features Janice A. Lowe and Dr. Herman Beavers, two “outstanding poets of color who will frame this long sweep of history in verse.”

Progeny’s Legacy Jamaa
Thursday, February 9 | 4:30 p.m.
Thomas F. Donatucci, Sr. Library, 1935 Shunk Street
Progeny’s Legacy Jamaa will be performing African folktales and music. The program is open to families!

Celebrate Black History Month Panel Discussion at Macy’s
Thursday, February 9 | 5:30 p.m.
Macy’s Center City Philadelphia, 1300 Market Street
Join host Kelly Lee, Chief Cultural Officer of the City of Philadelphia, for a celebration of Black Art and Culture, featuring a panel discussion with award-winning Macy’s Culinary Council Chef, Marcus Samuelsson, poetry readings by local Philadelphia artists, Supreme Dow and Kai Davis, and a performance by The Rakiem Walker Project! The event is free and those who register online and check-in may be eligible for a $10 Macy’s gift card.

Stroke the City: Engaging Black Arts
Saturday, February 11 | 7:00 p.m.
Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center, 7 Lock Street
The Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement (OBME) & Childhoods Lost Foundation are partnering to host “Stroke The City: Engaging Black Arts” performance. Hosted during and in recognition of Black History Month, the event will feature black male vocalists, dancers, actors, visual artists, spoken word artists, and musicians.  Proceeds of the show will be donated to the Sydney Group via The Healed Project (THP), a non-profit organization that supports and fosters performing arts skills for high school students and adults up to 35 years old. Tickets are $30-50 and are available online.

Sundays on Stage: Eda Ne Kakati (From the Past to the Present)
Sunday, February 12 | 2:00 p.m.
Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street
Ssuuna is a dancer, drummer, singer, songwriter, and reggae artist from Uganda with a wide range of performance experience. In this interactive show, you will learn a song in Luganda, the language of Uganda!

Black History Month Scavenger Hunt
Monday, February 13 | 4:00 p.m.
Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek Library, 5800 Cobbs Creek Parkway
During a scavenger hunt through the library, children will learn information about well-known African American authors and illustrators.

Mysterious Travelers Featuring Matt Stewart
Monday, February 13 | 7:00 p.m.
Parkway Central Library, Music Department, 1901 Vine Street
Jazz trumpeter Matt Stewart will debut a new concert-length deep musical exploration of the Reconstruction Era Freedmen’s Bureau based entirely on research he conducted with librarians in the Social Science & History Department.

Emerald’s Café
Wednesday, February 15 | 4:00 p.m.
Chestnut Hill Library, 8711 Germantown Avenue
The Harlem Renaissance is an important part of African American history. From writers like Langston Hughes, dancers like Josephine Baker, and musicians like Duke Ellington, life during the Harlem Renaissance has influenced the way people think, dress, and feel to this very day. Come and learn about great jazz musicians, poets, dancers, and other artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Play games, win prizes, and meet Miss Emerald of Emerald’s Cafe! Refreshments popular in the 1920s will be served.

Remixing Colorblind
Wednesday, February 22 | 7:00 p.m.
Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street
Join us to embark on an examination of how the educational system today shapes our understanding of race and, by extension, the nuances of race relations – including notions of implicit bias, individual racism, institutional racism, and reverse racism.

Folktales Out of Africa
Friday, February 24 | 10:00 a.m.
Kingsessing Library, 1201 S. 51st Street
Enjoy a fun program featuring African folktales. Folktales are simple stories that reflect a culture’s values and can be instructive about life choices and social responsibilities. In “pourquoi” or origin tales, they can also explain the “why” of the world or how things came to be.

Bessie Coleman Airplane Craft
Monday, February 27 | 4:30 p.m.
Eastwick Library, 2851 Island Avenue
Learn about and celebrate African American pilot Bessie Coleman. Make paper airplanes and popsicle stick airplanes.

Black History Month at the Constitution Center
February 2017
Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
Throughout February, the Constitution Center presents several special and in-depth exhibits devoted to Black History Month, including the Breaking Barriers show which “examines the lives of Thurgood Marshall, Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson, and other groundbreaking African-Americans throughout American history.”

Black History Month at the African American Museum in Philadelphia
February 2017
African American Musem in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street
Visit the AAMP and experience the richness and vibrancy of African American heritage and culture come alive in four magnificent exhibition galleries filled with exciting history and fascinating art. All month long, AAMP hosts exhibits and events perfect for those observing Black History Month.

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