Black History Month

Events

by Erin O'Hara and Mallory Passuite, 01/18/2011

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Black History Month, anchored by the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (February 14) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12), celebrates the important people and events that have shaped the history of black people in America and throughout the world. New York City itself has a notable place in the ledgers of black history. It was the first city in the United States to ban race-based housing discrimination. It was home to the Harlem Renaissance and such cultural and intellectual luminaries as Langston Hughes, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, WEB DuBois and Zora Neale Hurston and so many others essential to this story. Celebrate this month in NYC with events honoring black culture and traditions; music, dance and art; civil rights activism and more. Kids can learn about Coretta Scott King or the Tuskegee Airmen at the Brooklyn Children's Museum, and the whole family can explore the legacy of the legendary Apollo Theater at the Museum of the City of New York. There's also an art exhibition featuring vintage photographs of African-Americans, an open mic night for teens and a youth film series. Read on for more information, and check back for weekly updates.

Every Wednesday
Gallery Talks
African Burial Ground National Monument, 10:30am, free, 212-637-2019, nps.gov/afbg
Every Wednesday during Black History Month, the park rangers at the African Burial Ground National Monument give lectures about the history of the site as well as events and themes throughout black history. The topics for the four talks are burial practices and Pinkster (February 2), reinterment ceremony (February 9), rediscovery (February 16) and the Slave Revolt of 1741 (February 23). Reservations are required.


Every Friday and Saturday
Afternoon Film Series
African Burial Ground National Monument, 1pm, free, 212-637-2019, nps.gov/afbg
Join the National Park Service every weekend in February for films about different parks and their Black History Month celebrations. Reservations are required.


Through April 3
Akwaaba: Weaving Unity Between Bonwire and Staten Island
Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, admission: $3, adults; $2, seniors and students; Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, Staten Island, 718-423-3254, snug-harbor.org/newhouse

"Akwaaba" means "welcome" in Ghanaian, reflecting the connection the show has created between Staten Island and Bonwire, Ghana, the home of kente cloth, a fabric distinguished by its bold patterns, colors and geometric shapes. Learn all about the weaving techniques involved in making kente and see examples woven on a traditional Bonwire loom that was made in Staten Island specifically for this exhibition.


Through May 29
Stargazers: Elizabeth Catlett in Conversation with 21 Contemporary Artists
The Bronx Museum of the Arts, admission: $5, adults; seniors and students, $3; free on Fridays; 718-681-6000, bronxmuseum.org
Visit The Bronx Museum of the Arts in February for Stargazers: Elizabeth Catlett in Conversation with 21 Contemporary Artists, which opens January 27. Catlett, 95, is known for her expressionistic sculptures and prints that concentrate on the black experience, often focusing on the strong female form. The exhibition explores the influence the artist has had on later generations of black artists and their work.


Through August 21
Lorna Simpson: Gathered
Brooklyn Museum, admission: $10, adults; $6, seniors and students; 718-638-5000, brooklynmuseum.org

Through a variety of original and collected images and artifacts, local artist Lorna Simpson explores themes of identity, history and race. She incorporates hundreds of vintage photographs and drawings of African-Americans into her creations, opening up fascinating new interpretations. In one series, May June July 57/09, for example, she juxtaposes a pin-up picture series from the 1950s with a replica series in which she uses herself as the subject.


February 1
Langston Hughes Read-In and Tribute
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; read-in, 1pm, free; tribute, 7pm, $10; 212-491-2200, nypl.org/locations/schomburg
The Schomburg Center celebrates the birthday of the great American writer Langston Hughes with a community read-in of Hughes' works at 1pm, followed by an evening tribute including readings, music and special performances at 7pm. In honor of Hughes, a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance, the City declared the East 127th Street brownstone where Hughes lived for 20 years, until his death in 1967, a landmark and renamed the block Langston Hughes Place.


February 2, 9, 16 and 23
Amateur Night at the Apollo
Apollo Theater, 7:30pm, $19–$29, 212-531-5300, apollotheater.org
There's simply no place like the Apollo on Amateur Night, where many celebrated black performers, including Ella Fitzgerald, got their big breaks. The 2011 season begins with a new crop of talent looking to win over the notoriously fickle Apollo crowd each Wednesday night. February 9 will be "Brooklyn Night," with a slate of contestants hailing from the beloved Borough of Kings.


February 5
Create African-Inspired Masks with Susan Hale
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 4pm, free, 212-491-2200, nypl.org/locations/schomburg

Learn about different kinds of traditional African masks, patterns, colors and techniques. Afterward, design and create your own African-inspired mask to take home. Materials are provided, but space is limited; to register contact the center at schomburgrsvp@nypl.org or 212-491-2229.


February 5
Target First Saturdays
Brooklyn Museum, 5pm, free, 718-638-5000, brooklynmuseum.org
Target First Saturdays bring a whole evening of free talks, music, dancing and fun to the Brooklyn Museum every month. During February's edition, watch Denzel Washington in The Great Debaters, bring your own photos to create a triptych inspired by the work of African-American artist Lorna Simpson (see above), hear artist Hank Willis Thomas discuss his work and how it touches on the themes of race and class in advertising, and enjoy bebop and swing from the Fat Cat Big Band, a DJ dance party and more.


February 6
Open House at The Bronx Museum of the Arts
The Bronx Museum of the Arts, free, 2–6pm, 718-681-6000, bronxmuseum.org
The Bronx Museum of the Arts celebrates the opening of the exhibition Stargazers: Elizabeth Catlett in Conversation with 21 Contemporary Artists with an open house from 2 to 6pm on February 6. Xaviera Simmons, one of the artists featured in the show, will DJ from 3 to 5pm. There will be a free shuttle bus to the museum that will leave from the southeast corner of Lexington Avenue and East 59th Street at 2pm and return at 5:30pm. Reservations are required for the shuttle; email lclick@bronxmuseum.org or call 718-681-6000 ext. 131.

February 8–May 1
Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment
Museum of the City of New York, admission: $10, adults; $6, seniors and students; 212-534-1672, mcny.org

The Museum of the City of New York celebrates the Apollo Theater's status as a historical and cultural landmark with an impressive array of photographs, artifacts, costumes and videos. The exhibition brings to life numerous groundbreaking moments in African-American music and history that took place on the Apollo's stage, including Ella Fitzgerald's Amateur Night win and Barack Obama's election campaign rally.


February 8
Letters From Black America
Barnes & Noble – Park Slope, 7pm, free, 718-832-9066, barnesandnoble.com
Join author Pamela Newkirk as she signs copies of her fascinating epistolary history. Letters From Black America: Intimate Portraits of the African-American gives glimpses into the lives of black people in this country from all walks of life, from slavery to presidency, and from the Revolutionary War through today.


February 8–June 30
Harlem is…The Gospel Tradition
Dwyer Cultural Center, $5 donation requested, 212-222-3060, dwyercc.org

This exhibition examines the pivotal role of four churches at the forefront of the migration of African-Americans from downtown New York City to Harlem. It also honors some of Harlem's most significant contemporary religious leaders.


February 10
Apollo Legends: Leslie Uggams and Dionne Warwick
Museum of the City of New York, 6:30pm, $20, 212-534-1672, mcny.org
In a city full of famous venues, few have launched more careers or proven to be more of a cultural epicenter than the Apollo Theater. A panel discussion with Leslie Uggams and Dionne Warwick, moderated by historian Ted Fox, will explore the theater's unequaled tradition. The event is presented in conjunction with the museum's exhibition Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing. (See February 8 for a description of the show.)


February 10
Drum Workshop
Queens Library at Lefferts, 5:30pm, free, 718-843-5950, queenslibrary.org
At this workshop, kids ages 11 to 14 can drum along while percussionist Freddy Dugar teaches African-American beats, as well as the history of important musicians throughout black history.


February 12
Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: Gallery Tour
Museum of the City of New York, 1pm, admission: $10, adults; $6, seniors and students; 212-534-1672, mcny.org

Co-curator and University of Pennsylvania professor of music Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr. leads a special tour of the exhibition exploring the legacy of the Apollo Theater. (See February 8 for a description of the show.)


February 12
Spotlight: Coretta Scott King
Brooklyn Children's Museum, 1:30pm, $7.50, 718-735-4400, brooklynkids.org
Kids ages 6 and up can learn about the influential role Coretta Scott King played in the civil rights movement and her efforts to continue the work of her husband, Martin Luther King Jr., after his death in 1968.


February 12
Harlem on My Mind
Queens Library at Long Island City, 3pm, free, 718-752-3700, queenslibrary.org
From the Xoregos Performing Company comes a showcase of four short plays that pay tribute to the Harlem Renaissance, as well as poetry and music from the pivotal era.


February 12
Harlem in Film
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 212-491-2200, 4pm, free, nypl.org/locations/schomburg
Come to the Schomburg Center for a screening of I Remember Harlem, Parts 1 and 2, "The Early Years" and "The Depression Years."


February 12
Dr. Larry Ridley and the Jazz Legacy Ensemble
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 7pm, $20, 212-491-2200, nypl.org/locations/schomburg

Dr. Larry Ridley and his ensemble play this special concert, accompanied by students from jazz studies programs at various historically black colleges and universities.


February 12
Cabaret Chocolat
Harlem Stage, Aaron Davis Hall, 7:30pm, $25, 212-281-9240, harlemstage.org

Tamar-kali presents her newest multidisciplinary piece, which incorporates dance, song, burlesque, humor and spectacle in an homage to old-fashioned cabaret. Tamar-kali has a storied involvement with hip-hop, rock and punk and is central to NYC's revered Black Rock Coalition crew.


February 12 and 26
Family Memory Box Workshop
African Burial Ground National Monument, 11am, free, 212-637-2019, nps.gov/afbg
This hands-on workshop helps family members connect with one another and their ancestors as they create a one-of-a-kind memory box together. Reservations are required.


February 12–November 1
Portraits in Leadership: African American Entrepreneurs of SI
Staten Island History Center & Archives, Staten Island Museum, admission: adults, $3; seniors and students, $2; 718-727-1135, statenislandmuseum.org

Members of Staten Island's African-American community tell their stories in their own voices. Portraits in Leadership was curated by Jeanine Otis, with photographer Willie Chu, guest historian Cynthia Copeland and folklorist Chris Mulé.


February 14–18
Black History Month Youth Film Series
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 10am, free, 212-491-2200, nypl.org/locations/schomburg
This weeklong film series presents a variety of movies about black culture, history and experience to empower and educate young people. To register, contact the center at schomburged@nypl.org or 212-491-2234.


February 15
African Textiles
African Burial Ground National Monument, 12:15pm, free, 212-637-2019, nps.gov/afbg
Learn all about African textiles like kente, adinkra and mud cloth—what they mean and how they're used—at this educational event. Reservations are required.


February 15
African-American Dance with Christine Campbell
Queens Library at South Jamaica, 4pm, free, 718-739-4088, queenslibrary.org
Christine Campbell teaches kids how to do a variety of popular dances in the African-American tradition, including many jazz- and ragtime-era favorites.


February 15
Drum Workshop
Queens Library at Sunnyside, 4pm, free, 718-784-3033, queenslibrary.org
At this workshop, kids ages 11 to 14 can drum along while percussionist Freddy Dugar teaches African-American beats, as well as the history of important musicians throughout black history.


February 15
Symposium: Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing
Museum of the City of New York, 6:30pm, admission: $12, adults; $8, seniors and students; 212-534-1672, mcny.org
A panel of writers, critics and historians will use the exhibition on the Apollo Theater as a jumping-off point to discuss institution's importance to black cultural life for more than 75 years.


February 16
Recoloration Proclamation
Harlem Stage, The Gatehouse, 7:30pm, $10, 212-281-9240, harlemstage.org

Artist John Sims will present his documentary film Recoloration Proclamation as part of a special multimedia event. The film examines reactions to the Confederate flag, its iconic—and racist—cultural symbolism and its effects on our oft-fractured society.


February 17
African-American Dance with Christine Campbell
Queens Library at Rochdale Village, 3:30pm, free, 718-723-4440, queenslibrary.org
Christine Campbell teaches kids how to do a variety of popular dances in the African-American tradition, including many jazz- and ragtime-era favorites.


February 17
Free Thursday Night: Tuskegee Airmen
Brooklyn Children's Museum, 5pm, free, 718-735-4400, brooklynkids.org
The Brooklyn Children's Museum gets a visit from Captain Desmond Powell, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group dedicated to preserving the memory of the country's first black military pilots.


February 17
Uptown Open
Harlem Stage, The Gatehouse, 5pm, free, 212-281-9240, harlemstage.org
Teens can speak their minds through poetry, spoken word, freestyle music and emceeing at this monthly open mic night. The event is a safe space for young people to come together and be heard.


February 17
Traces of the Trade: A Story From the Deep South
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 6pm, free, 212-491-2200, nypl.org/locations/schomburg

Katrina Browne's movie examines the history of her New England forefathers, who were among the largest slave traders in the country. The screening, presented by African Film Festival New York, will be followed by a Q&A with the director.


February 19
Black History Month Family Discussion Group
Morris-Jumel Mansion, 1pm, free, morrisjumel.org
Children from grades 3 through 6 and their parents are invited to a group discussion about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the importance of serving one's community. Call 212-923-8008 to register.


February 19–20
Invention Convention
Brooklyn Children's Museum, 2:30pm, $7.50, 718-735-4400, brooklynkids.org
Kids can learn all about famous black inventors and the important innovations they've contributed to society—and then put their own thinking caps on to try to develop solutions to challenges we face today.


February 22
Drum Workshop
Queens Library at Broadway, 3:30pm, free, 718-721-2462, queenslibrary.org At this workshop, kids ages 11 to 14 can drum along while percussionist Freddy Dugar teaches African-American beats, as well as the history of important musicians throughout black history.


February 22 and 27
Following the Drinking Gourd
Brooklyn Children's Museum; February 22, 2:30pm; February 27, 1:30pm; $7.50, 718-735-4400, brooklynkids.org
After learning about how runaway slaves used the stars to guide them on their dangerous journey to the North, kids can then make a constellation projector of their own to take home.


February 23
Drum Workshop
Queens Library at Queensboro Hill, 3pm, free, 718-359-8332, queenslibrary.org
At this workshop, kids ages 11 to 14 can drum along while percussionist Freddy Dugar teaches African-American beats, as well as the history of important musicians throughout black history.


February 25–27
Harlem Fine Arts Show
Riverside Church, $20, 914-450-4269, hfas.org
This exposition showcases works by emerging and established artists that are reflective of their African-American heritage and ancestry.


February 24
Drum Workshop
Queens Library at Hillcrest, 4:30pm, free, 718-454-2786, queenslibrary.org
At this workshop, kids ages 11 to 14 can drum along while percussionist Freddy Dugar teaches African-American beats, as well as the history of important musicians throughout black history.


February 26
Charles Moore Dance Theater: Across the African Diaspora
Queens Library at Flushing, 2pm, free, 718-661-1200, queenslibrary.org
Immerse yourself in African music and dance with this Black History Month production by performers from the Charles Moore Dance Theater.


February 26
City Stories: Family Workshop
Museum of the City of New York, 2pm, admission: $10, adults; $6, seniors and students; 212-534-1672, mcny.org
Visit the museum for a reading and meet-and-greet with acclaimed author Andrea Davis Pinkney (Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra). Pinkney will be sharing excerpts and insights from her books and providing context for younger audience members.


February 27
Digital Diaspora Family Reunion
Harlem Stage, The Gatehouse, 3pm, admission: $10, adults; $5, teens; 212-281-9240, harlemstage.org
Family photographs deserve better than a shoebox at the back of the closet; the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion project asks participants to "explore the rich and revealing historical narratives found within their own family photograph collections." Members of the community are invited to bring images, photo albums and other scannable mementos in to Harlem Stage from February 23 to 25. The project will culminate on February 27 with a special live event and multimedia presentation celebrating Harlem's hidden family history. Make a reservation to bring in your images by calling 212-281-6002 or visiting ddfr.tv.


February 28
The Apollo Legacy: Jazz!
Museum of the City of New York, 7pm, $5, 212-534-1672, mcny.org
In honor of Black History Month and in conjunction with its exhibition on the Apollo Theater (see the February 8 description of the show), the Museum of the City of New York presents a special night of music hosted by Loren Schoenberg, executive director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. The National Jazz Museum All-Stars honor the artists that helped make the Apollo a mecca of American music, from Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald to Cab Calloway, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.


February 28
A Tribute to Betty Allen
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 7pm, $10, 212-491-2229, nypl.org/locations/schomburg
The New York City Opera and the Schomburg Center team up to honor the life and achievements of African-American mezzo-soprano Betty Allen, whose successes in the 1950s helped dissolve racial barriers in opera. The evening features film and sound clips of Allen, as well as musical selections.


 

related venues/(9)

  1. 1
    Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
    515 Lenox Ave.
    Manhattan – Harlem
    NY 10037
  2. 2
    Harlem Stage - The Gatehouse
    150 Convent Ave.
    Manhattan – Harlem
    NY 10031
  3. 3
    Brooklyn Children's Museum
    145 Brooklyn Ave.
    Brooklyn – Crown Heights
    NY 11213
  1. 4
    Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
    1000 Richmond Terr.
    Staten Island – Randall Manor
    NY 10301
  2. 5
    Museum of the City of New York
    1220 Fifth Ave.
    Manhattan – East Harlem/El Barrio
    NY 10029
  3. 6
    Morris-Jumel Mansion
    65 Jumel Terr.
    Manhattan – Washington Heights
    NY 10032
  1. 7
    Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway
    Brooklyn – Prospect Heights
    NY 11238
  2. 8
    Apollo Theater
    253 W. 125th St.
    Manhattan – Harlem
    NY 10027
  3. 9
    Dwyer Cultural Center
    258 St. Nicholas Ave.
    Manhattan – Harlem
    NY 10027

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