Black History Month Experiences to Enjoy

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DANCE TROUPE Kulu Mele performs “Wemilere: Parade of the Orishas.” a celebration of Afro-Caribbean history and culture, at taller Puertorriqueño.


National Constitution Ctr.
525 Arch Street
Throughout February, the National Constitution Center will host a variety of programs in honor of African American History Month. Visitors can explore the museum’s The Story of We the People exhibit to discover key milestones in African American history and then test their knowledge at the Center’s giant game-board activity. Visitors will learn about the history of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil War, and the background of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.

Marian Anderson Historical Residence & Museum
762 Martin Street
See the quaint home that Marian Anderson purchased in 1924, right across the street from the Union Baptist Church where she sang as a child.

Visitors to the find a marvelous ensemble of memorabilia, books, rare photos, paintings and even films regarding the great contralto’s life.

Various rooms, with hardwood floors and lace curtains (which Anderson adored), are dedicated to musical programs, lectures, audiovisual presentations and even private lessons.

A Guide to the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia
Philadelphia, home of the 17th-century Quaker abolitionist movement and the city where a young Harriet Tubman found freedom, played a vital role in the Underground Railroad.

For centuries, Philadelphia’s Historic District was an active port where African individuals and families were brought to be sold, separated and sent off to enslavement.

And yet, this same district was home to the nation’s largest neighborhood of free African-Americans, the 7th Ward (between Spruce and South Streets and 6th and 23rd Streets), and the first African Methodist Episcopal Church (Mother Bethel).

Freedom was the goal for the thousands of enslaved Africans on the Underground Railroad, a secret network of safe houses, churches and farms that offered shelter and safety, which many found in the Philadelphia region. Here, you’ll find notable Philadelphia sites and Philadelphians who bravely worked to keep the route running.

To learn more about regional Underground Railroad sites, visit

The President’s House: Freedom & Slavery in the Making of a New Nation
600 Market St.
In the shadows of Independence Hall stand the remnants of the home where President George Washington enslaved nine Africans. In 1796, one of them, Oney Judge, used the help of Philadelphia’s community of free Blacks to escape bondage. This open-air site provides visitors with different perspectives of this powerful story.

Feb. 16-18

National Constitution Center
525 Arch St.
Presidents Day Weekend and FREE Family Day

Visitors participate in a family festival while observing both African American History Month and Presidents Day. Visitors will learn about the contributions of African Americans throughout history and the role of the president and what it takes to be commander in chief. The Center will host programs for the whole family, including presidential trivia where visitors can test their knowledge of America’s 45 presidents, craft stations, story corners, and more. Admission will be free on Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 18, courtesy of TD Bank.

Program times vary daily. Check the visitor guide upon arrival.

The “Breaking Barriers” show examines the lives of Thurgood Marshall, Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson and other groundbreakers. “Decoding the Document: Emancipation Proclamation Exhibit Station” displays a rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln. “African-American History Self-Guided Tour” flyers take you on a rich, centuries-long journey. “Giant Game Board Activity” tests visitors on their knowledge of African American history.

Feb. 16

Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library
125 S. 52nd Street, 3 p.m.
“Mae Among the Stars: Mae Jemison in Outer Space.” Learn about Mae Jemison’s space trip and make outer-space slime for a hands-on lesson about stars and planets.

Feb. 16-17

The African American Museum
701 Arch Street, SAT 3:30 p.m., SUN 6 p.m.
“The Colored Museum.”
Set in a fictional museum where iconic African American figures are kept for public consumption, this show’s 11 “exhibits” undermine Black stereotypes old and new and return to the facts of what being Black means. This performance will electrify, discomfort, and delight audiences of all colors while also redefining our ideas of what it means to be Black in contemporary America.

Limited tickets free with RSVP. These performances are a part of Theatre Philadelphia’s Theatre Week.

The performance takes place throughout the museum and some portions require standing. Some seating around the space for those who require a seated experience.

Feb. 16

Taller Puertorriqueño
2600 N. 5th Street, 5-8 p.m.
“Wemilere: Parade of the Orishas.”
Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble’s incredible dance program and conversation is part of 2019’s PhilAesthetic: AAMP Celebrates the African Diaspora in Philly. It celebrates eight of the most revered orishas (deities) in Yoruba culture. Starts with 10 minutes of drumming by the Afro-Cuban Rhythms and will conclude with Q&A period. Free.

Feb. 19

Museum of the American Revolution
3rd & Chestnut Sts., 5-8 p.m.
“History After Hours: Liberty For All?”
Who tells your story? Archaeologists lay out the groundwork for discovering how the roots of Philadelphia’s vibrant African American community found liberty in local sites. Learn about how unexpected stories can be unearthed from places like cemeteries, buildings, maps, and genealogy through different hands-activities, gallery tours, and presenters.

At 6:30 p.m., former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and award-winning storyteller Sofiya Ballin will discuss her identity series “Black History Untold,” which explores the Black experience through personal essays and earned her the National Association of Black Journalist Award for Best Feature: Series.

Throughout the evening, Terry Buckalew from the Bethel Burying Ground Project will showcase his research on the 19th-century African American burial ground on the 400 block of Queen Street and the personal stories it has brought to light about the more than 5,000 individuals interred there. Archivist Margaret Jericho from Mother Bethel AME Church will be available to discuss her work with the church’s archives and history.

The African American Genealogy Group and the African American Museum
of Philadelphia will also be onsite to chat with about the various research methods available to use for those looking to dig into their family history or learn about local history

Don’t forget to bring along an object to participate in a pop-up museum to display what you feel best represents your story. Throughout the evening, the pop-up museum will display these personal objects and inspire guests to think about how and why we view history through different lenses.

Happy-hour food and drink specials, and full access to the Museum’s exhibits including timed screenings of Washington’s War Tent. $10 General Admission, free for members.

Feb. 22

Whitman Free Library
200 Snyder Avenue, 1 p.m.
Friday Film Matinée. “Mavis!” Her family group, the Staple Singers, inspired millions and helped propel the civil rights movement with their music. After 60 years of performing, legendary singer Mavis Staples’ message of love and equality is needed now more than ever.

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