New York City has long been a center of African-American life in the United States. It’s where the Harlem Renaissance shook cultural norms, where Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and where Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to Congress. The City remains a beacon of diversity, so it’s no wonder that many institutions offer a strong lineup of Black History Month events. Here are some of our picks for 2019, as well as tours you can take this month and throughout the year.
The Apollo Theater is home to a broad range of programming this February as the iconic theater celebrates its 85th anniversary. On February 7, the Apollo Comedy Club hosts Rey Gibbs, Correy Bell and Shuler King. The Apollo Music Café spotlights Malik Yoba on February 8 and Tamika Lawrence and Bel-Ami on February 9; Kamasi Washington and his 10-piece band will perform on February 23. The month also brings a new season of Amateur Night at the Apollo, kicking off February 20.
Brooklyn Historical Society
Brooklyn Historical Society’s Black History Month festivities begin January 30 with a discussion about a notable postwar civil rights case. Subsequent events include a book talk on Separate: The Story of Plessy v Ferguson led by author Steven Luxenberg (February 19) and a conversation among Obama-era White House staffers (February 28). One of the museum’s long-running exhibits, Brooklyn Abolitionists/In Pursuit of Freedom, is on show through March 24.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Black History Month programs at this Harlem-based center include a conversation on female freedom fighters (February 7), a Black Lives Matter teen conference (February 9) and a talk revisiting Alex Haley’s work on Malcom X’s autobiography (February 21). The month ends with a performance by the Harlem Chamber Players (February 28). On view through April 6 is Crusader, a collection of photos capturing key moments in Martin Luther King Jr.’s extraordinary life.
Noho’s Sheen Center observes Black History Month with thought-provoking events like a 30th anniversary screening of acclaimed film Mississippi Burning (February 4). On February 20, the center hosts two performances of Haunted Files, an immersive theater presentation created in conjunction with the American Slavery Project. Visitors can also attend a screening of the documentary Forgiveness Makes You Free (February 22), which highlights the efforts of Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga to bring peace and forgiveness to the people of Rwanda following the 1994 genocide.
In addition to their general tours, the United Nations offers a special Black History Month tour during the month of February. Departing at 2:30pm each weekday, the tour includes a visit to the Ark of Return, the UN’s permanent memorial to the victims of slavery.
Harlem Heritage Tours
Harlem Heritage Tours offers itineraries that capture the history of jazz, hip-hop, gospel and art in Harlem. Guides for these entertaining journeys were born and raised in the community, giving participants an insider’s perspective on the rich legacy and culture of the area. Participants can enjoy music, dine on delicious soul food and shop neighborhood stores.
Harlem Spirituals Tours
This company’s regular offerings include gospel-themed tours and ones combining soul food and jazz. You’ll get a new perspective on historic landmarks—including the original Cotton Club and the Apollo—important to Harlem’s musical legacy.
Hush Hip Hop Tours
Join Hush Tours on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for a four-hour journey through the Bronx and Harlem that highlights crucial sites in the history of hip-hop. Stops include the former home of genre pioneer DJ Kool Herc. Old-school MCs, among them Grandmaster Caz and Roxanne Shante, often lead or make guest appearances during the tours.
UN Black History Tours
The United Nations is offering a special Black History Month tour for the month of February. Departing at 2:30pm each weekday, the tour includes a visit to the UN's permanent memorial to the victims of slavery, the Ark of the Return.