February is Black History Month, a time for recognizing both the adversity African Americans have faced and the incredible achievements of the community. Getting children involved in learning about this important aspect of our country's history is key. Here are some of the best Black History Month events for families happening around the country.
Los Angeles’ art scene thrives in February for Black History Month. Emphasizing inclusion and community, African American artists lead the charge and lift their voices through their artwork prominently displayed throughout the city.
Art + Practice is a non-profit contemporary art exhibition space that is also committed to helping foster youths with life-skills training while also providing housing. Don’t miss the Collective Constellation: Selections From The Eileen Norton Collection exhibition which features a selection of artworks by women of color.
The Underground Museum is family-run and prides itself on being family-friendly. This multi-pace museum also operates as a community center offering programming for the community. Not to miss on display this February is Rodney McMillian Brown: Videos from The Black Show, which features a collection of large-scale paintings, sculptures and videos.
California African American Museum is Los Angeles' most expansive collection of artwork created by African American artists making it a perfect spot for families to visit during Black History Month . The museum houses over 4,000 objects while also providing multiple year-round exhibitions.
Along with year-round activities, Dallas offers fantastic events and performances throughout Black History Month. For a stirring evening of African, contemporary and modern dance check out the 16th Annual Festival of Black Dance - Rhythm And Soul of a People on February 21-22 performed by Atlanta Dance Connection with Terrance Johnson Dance Company and B Moore Dance Company. On February 8, The Black Academy of Arts & Letters will present an evening of music performed by one of the nation's oldest contemporary majority African-American community orchestras the Scott Joplin Chamber Orchestra.
For the whole month of February check out South Dallas Cultural Center's Punk Noir exhibition. Nigerian American artist, Dawn Okoro, has created portraits of black musicians, filmmakers, photographers and other creatives while manipulating the quality of light.
Featured for the entire month of February at African American Museum is The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection. This collection of over 150 shared treasures is considered to be one of the most comprehensive surveys of African American history and culture which includes paintings, sculptures, photos, rare books, letters, manuscripts and more.
Black History Literary Jazz Brunch at Dooky Chase Restaurant is one of New Orleans' most popular events that combines good food and good writers on February 29. Showcasing published, self-published, local and independent authors, this event might be perfect if you have a young author in your family. Fill up on a delicious meal, insight readings and a performance by the Strate Notes Jazz Band.
What better way to celebrate Black History Month with the family than to acknowledge the life and legacy of Mrs. Oretha Castle Haley, a New Orleans civil rights prominent activist and icon. Enjoy the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra Black History Month Concert at the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) on Friday, February 7 and celebrate the lives and legacies of African Americans that helped shape our country’s history.
Families will love taking in an authentic Second Line almost every Sunday in New Orleans' French Quarter and Treme neighborhoods. Check out Treme Sidewalk Steppers on February 2 and CTC Steppers on February 9. Everyone will love watching the parade leader, a band and revelers join in on the glorious sounds of brass instruments as they fill New Orleans' streets.
As the birthplace for the Civil Rights Movement, Montgomery has long been a place that faced intolerable issues head on, initiating unprecedented change for the better. Black History Month is the ideal time to experience Montgomery and visit notable sites like the Rosa Parks Museum honoring the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” the Freedom Rides Museum, the Selma to Montgomery trail, Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) National Memorial for Peace & Justice and Legacy Museum, the Dexter Avenue Church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached and more. The sites of these pivotal moments have been preserved and made accessible to everyone, so that the lessons from the fight for human rights can continue to be learned for generations to come.
Road Scholar will also host its inaugural Civil Rights Conference on February 4-11. The seven-night conference will feature dynamic speakers including EJI Founder Bryan Stevenson; Carolyn McKinstry, survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing; and Sheyann Webb-Christburg, known as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Smallest Freedom Fighter,” who marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday at the age of nine.
Houston's 22nd Annual Jazz Festival will be presented by The Moores School of Music on February 22-23 featuring middle school and high school jazz ensembles from around the state of Texas. Under the direction of Noe Marmolejo, performances will be given by the award-winning Moores School of Music Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Orchestra.
The Houston Museum of African American Culture is committed to enriching families and children to “discovery-driven learning” throughout the vast collection of African American culture on display. During February check out 3 Decades of Social Commentary, curated by Dr. Lauren Cross. This exhibit puts together a variety of artist Vicki Meek’s work spanning thirty years.
The Buffalo Soldier National Museum is the only museum dedicated to preserving the legacy and pride of the African-American soldiers who fought for the United States of America from the Revolutionary War to present. Besides the array of artifacts on display, be sure to check out the museum’s Reenactor Program which teaches about the authentic Buffalo Soldier experience.
The DuSable Museum of African American History is not to be missed while visiting Chicago. This Smithsonian Affiliate museum houses more than 15,000 pieces including paintings, sculptures, print works and historical memorabilia. Along with permanent exhibits, The DuSable features a variety of rotating exhibits as well.
An excellent resource in celebrating Black History Month in Chicago is the Bronzeville Visitor Information Center. This visitor center is located in the Supreme Life Building and provides information on some of the best tours you can take in Chicago. Venture through neighborhoods that cover the Black Metropolis historic area touching on topics of the Great Migration, the Bronzeville Renaissance and more. Marvel at the Victorian Era architecture and mansions built in the 19th century.
Anytime of year, but especially through Black History Month, be sure to check out what is playing at the Black Ensemble Theater. Located Uptown, this theater is proudly one of the most diverse in the country. With a mission statement that strives towards ending racism through theatre arts and community outreach, families will love this Ensemble's take on old classics and new works alike.
This year for Black History Month the city of Providence is unveiling a brand new self-guided historic walking tour of Early African American History. Grab a walking tour map at one of two visitor centers and check out the fourteen spots throughout the city.
The Cathedral of St. John is now The Center of Reconciliation, an organization dedicated to educating the public about slavery and its aftermath. Learn about how some early African American Rhode Islanders that were in need of a place to live, work and play created a community at the site of Snowtown. The Congdon Street Baptist Church is Providence’s oldest continually operating African American church. Each walking tour map is loaded with historic facts and images of popular figures and artifacts dating as far back throughout the 1800s.
It’s no secret New York City always has something exciting going on and Black History Month is no different. Starting on February 14, the Brooklyn Museum is beginning to host African Arts - Global Conversations. This extremely unique exhibit is on display throughout almost all five floors of the museum. Focusing on pairing diverse African works with objects from around the world, this exhibit encourages visitors to engage with these works in a global sense.
The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture dedicates year-round programming to collecting and preserving documents that reflect the experiences of people of African heritage. Throughout February, check out their multiple events like Harlem Chamber Players Annual Black History Month Program, Housing Discrimination in the Jim Crow North and the Case of Reparations, and the 2020 Black Lives Matter Teen Conference & Open Mic Night.
Harlem Heritage Tours is the absolute best way to experience everything Harlem has to offer. Travel through Harlem learning about specific elements within the neighborhood that makes it so historic and important. Offering five different varieties of tours highlighting the musical, cultural, culinary, art and shopping of Harlem.
To start off Black History Month, Charleston will be hosting the 8th Annual Colour of Music Festival (January 29 - February 1). This unique music presentation focuses on highlighting the impact and historical significance of black composers and performers on American and world culture.
The Citadel, South Carolina’s Military School, offers Gullah Tours during Black History Month. A Gullah tour takes you on a journey of discovery about places, history and stories of Black Charlestonians. You’ll be certain to hear quite a bit of the Gullah language that is native to the Charleston area.
Middleton Place is a historic preservation surrounded by the nation’s oldest landscaped gardens. This National Historic Landmark has been committed to welcoming and teaching visitors for decades. Be sure to check out the “Beyond The Fields” tour, which tells the history of African-Americans at Middleton Place and throughout the South.
Steeped in years of our country’s history, the city of Philadelphia has some of the best Black History Month events for families to participate in. And there’s no better year to celebrate in Philadelphia than this year - the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment which said the right to vote could not be denied based on race.
Philadelphia's many museums all have something individual to offer during Black History Month. The National Constitution Center has an entire month of programming including “The Road To Freedom,” which is an interactive program that dives into slavery, key events and historic figures. For the entire month of February, the Brandywine River Museum of Art will have Witness To History: Selma Photography of Stephen Somerstein. This 55-photo exhibit takes you back to the historic 54-mile march of African American voter rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. On February 2nd, The Philadelphia Museum of Art is hosting a special family festival to start Black History Month. Local artist Patricia Thomas will lead a painting party for attendees inspired by Horace Pippin, an African American artist who taught himself how to paint in order to heal after World War I. As part of their History After Hours series, check out the Museum of the American Revolution’s Black History Untold on February 11 from 5-8PM. Learn about the American Revolution through the lens and context of African American history, along with live music and make-and-take activities. The mega kid-friendly Please Touch Museum is hosting the Voices of Hope: A Black History Month Celebration on February 20 at 6pm. This free event will feature performances by PHILADANCO, Philadelphia Heritage Chorale, Monique Brooks Roberts, Sister Cities Girlchoir and CAPA String Quartet. For more live performances throughout Black History Month, be sure to check out World Cafe Live, The Liacouras Center and The Philly POPS for special programming.
Also, several branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia will dedicate special programming and events for Black History Month: film screenings, talkback discussions, documentaries about African American women’s contributions in World War II and author readings.
Make a weekend out of it and take advantage of Visit Philly’s unbeatable Overnight Hotel Package. Choose from a variety of participating hotels located throughout the entire city. The Logan - Philadelphia’s Hotel is perfect for the art loving family that offers a kid-friendly environment offering a Family Fun Package that includes free parking, free kid meals and more.
In 1839, New Haven, Connecticut became the final stop for the historic Spanish slave ship, La Amistad. The 53 slaves aboard would wait two full years before ultimately being freed after a Supreme Court ruling. New Haven’s connection to La Amistad is shown throughout the city in various ways.
Don’t miss the Amistad Memorial, situated in the heart of downtown near the New Haven green. This statue was created and dedicated in 1992 as a reminder that we should always strive for freedom and quality of life for all. Also, check out New Haven Museum's Amistad Gallery. This year-round exhibit has portraits, paintings and letters. The portrait on display of Joseph Cinqué, the leader of the Amistad revolt, is thought to be the first of an African American in American art.
By Jeffery James Dinan