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Jan 23 2014

Philly Celebrates Black History Month

Exhibitions, Performances and Special Program Highlight A Month of Activities

Since Philadelphia’s earliest days, African-American culture has played an influential role in shaping the city’s personality. This February, Philadelphia celebrates that heritage and Black History Month with special events, exhibitions, film screenings and other activities. Visitors can join members of the esteemed Tiberino family of artists on guided tours of The Unflinching Eye: Works of the Tiberino Family Circle at The African American Museum in Philadelphia, catch the Tony Award®-winning classic Porgy and Bess at the Academy of Music or explore the path to Civil Rights at the National Constitution Center.

Here are some highlights of Philadelphia’s Black History Month:

Museum Happenings:

  • All month long, The African American Museum in Philadelphia buzzes with activity. Events kick off with a screening and discussion of The Contradictions of Fair Hope. Produced by S. Epatha Merkerson (of Law & Order fame) and Rockell Metcalf, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and accompanied by a Christian McBride score, the award-winning documentary examines the tensions surrounding an Alabama African-American benevolent society and its signature Foot Wash Festival. February 1. Zulu native Godfrey Sithole invites people to Step Into South Africa! with a program that delves into South African languages, music, religions and rites of passage. February 8. Museum guests can get an intimate look at the museum’s current art exhibition, The Unflinching Eye: Works of the Tiberino Family Circle, through gallery tours led by members of the Tiberino family and a mural workshop for children. February 22. 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380, aampmuseum.org
  • Visitors can explore the African Diaspora at the Penn Museum. The special exhibition Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster presents 33 posters, most targeting Africans and African-American civilians in times of war. Guests witness changing messages on race and politics through propaganda in this innovative exhibit curated by Tukufu Zuberi, host of the PBS television series History Detectives. Through March 2, 2014. The annual Celebration of African Cultures features storytelling, family crafts and dance and music performances and workshops. February 8. The Penn Museum’s permanent African Gallery and Ancient Egypt Galleries round out the February draws. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, pennmuseum.org
  • At the National Constitution Center, visitors can pick up a special “African-American History Month” guide outlining daily events and activities and artifacts related to African-American history or the struggles African Americans have faced to gain equality as citizens. Highlights include Decoding the Document, a workshop that examines the museum’s own rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln, and the interactive Breaking Barriers show, spotlighting the lives of Thurgood Marshall, Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson and other barrier-breaking African-Americans. In addition, the museum’s main exhibition spotlights important moments in and artifacts from African-American history, such as the Dred Scott Decision; the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments; the Brown v. Board of Education case; the March on Washington; the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. All month. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700, constitutioncenter.org
  • The Barnes Foundation’s exhibition of sculptural works by British artist Yinka Shobinare summons the artist’s Nigerian heritage. Featuring life-size mannequins dressed in the fabrics and textiles associated with Africa, Yinka Shobinare MBE: Magic Ladders is a dramatic, playful and irreverent examina¬tion of identity, history and politics. Through April 21. 2015 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7200, barnesfoundation.org

Music & Dance:

  • Dandy Wellington and His Band amp up the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s cool factor with Mood Indigo: A Harlem Renaissance Retrospective, featuring compositions by Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and others. Part of the museum’s weekly series Art After 5, the program invites guests to take in musical and visual arts together, plus enjoy drinks, snacks and a laid-back vibe. February 7. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org
  • Winner of the 2012 Tony Award® for “Best Revival of a Musical,” The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess comes to the Academy of Music. The stunning production includes legendary songs Summertime and It Ain’t Necessarily So, plus other classic tunes. February 18-23.
    Broad & Locust Streets, (215) 893-1999, kimmelcenter.org
    • Led by choreographer and former Fulbright Scholar Angela Watson, Healing African Dance at Bucks County’s Mercer Museum uncovers the role of dance in various events in African life—from births and naming ceremonies to weddings and death. The program includes a discussion, a display of instruments from the museum’s collection, video and, of course, dance demonstrations. February 23. 84 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, (215) 345-0210, mercermuseum.org 
  • Philadanco teams up with The Philadelphia Orchestra to present Poulenc’s Aubade, the tale of mythological Diana’s struggles between passion and loneliness. The internationally acclaimed dance troupe brings contemporary stylings to the classical piece at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. February 28. 300 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-1999, philadanco.org

Movies, Stories, Talks & Tours:

  • Throughout Black History Month, the Free Library of Philadelphia’s calendar is packed with creative writing workshops, scavenger hunts, film matinees, storytelling, trivia games and other activities for all ages. All month. Various library locations. freelibrary.org/blackhistorymonth
  • Among the activities at Independence National Historical Park: 30-minute, ranger-led programs on The Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, taking place every Saturday and Sunday in the Second Bank’s Portrait Gallery; a wreath-laying ceremony at the Liberty Bell marking National Freedom Day, when President Lincoln signed a resolution from Congress that proposed the Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery; and ongoing programming at The President’s House, the commemorative site where the first president and nine enslaved Africans lived. February 1, ongoing. (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
  • Inside the Historic Philadelphia Center, Once Upon A Nation storytellers regale visitors with riveting stories about African-Americans who played a role in America’s history, including Octavius Catto, one of the nation’s most renowned and earliest Civil Rights activists. February 15-17. 6th & Chestnut Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Radio One are teaming up to present a panel discussion titled Philadelphia: Brotherly Love & Sisterly Affection Contributors to the Cultural Landscape of Our City. Radio personality Dyana Williams and State Senator Vincent Hughes lead the event, and a reception will follow. February 26. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org

Visit Philadelphia, formerly known as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.

Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com make up the most-visited website network out of the 10 biggest U.S. cities. Visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.
 

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