There’s no shortage of cultural institutions and community centers spread across the boroughs, and in February several of them produce excellent programming for Black History Month. Celebrate by engaging with these educational classes and experiences.
African Art at the Met
Learn more about sub-Saharan Africa’s art by taking one of the Met’s guided tours this month. Over a millennium’s worth of work is on display, including every media from wood to clay to beading. You can pick from several dates throughout February to attend. Several dates, 1pm-2pm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue. Free with admission. metmuseum.org.
Meet Josephine Baker at Wave Hill
Do your kids know Josephine Baker? They will after participating in this event. Visiting storyteller Channie Waites reinterprets Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter using interactive movement and sound. Participants will get to craft handmade musical instruments while learning about the historic entertainer who refused to perform before segregated audiences. February 17, 10am-1pm. Wave Hill House, West 249th Street and Independence Avenue, Bronx. Free. nycgovparks.org.
Become a Botanist at the Queens Botanical Garden
George Washington Carver is known for far more than peanuts. Learn about the Wizard of Tuskegee’s botany prowess while approaching crafts in a brand new way. Kids will paint using plants and even learn to make a healing lotion that they can take home with them. February 20, 1pm-2:30pm. Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Queens. $6, registration required. nycgovparks.org.
Visit Hip Hop's Birthplace
What kid wouldn’t want to see where hip hop was born? The Urban Park Rangers show you the spot, on August 11, 1973, where a recreational room party spawned an entire musical genre. The party, massive as it was, had to be moved out to Cedar Playground, which effectively made the Bronx park the birthplace of hip hop and its origin as an underground urban movement. February 24, 1pm-2:30pm. Cedar Playground, West 179th Street & Sedgwick Avenue, Bronx. Free. nycgovparks.org.
Tour the Food and History of Harlem
Taste Harlem holds two tours you can pick from based on what piques your family’s fancy: a food tour or a historical one. The two-hour historical walking tour highlights important places and people from Harlem, covering architectural styles, musical history, and more. The food tour features far more than soul food, encapsulating Caribbean and African as well as Jewish cuisine. Check site for availability. Starting location determined after time of purchase. For both tours, children under 6 are free. For the historical tour, kids 6-12 are $25 and adults are $45. For the food tour, kids 6-12 are $35 and adults are $75. tasteharlem.com.
Celebrate Art at the Harlem Fine Arts Show
The Harlem Fine Arts Show is a four-day affair that showcases the diverse works created by local, national, and international artists and celebrates the African Diaspora. Stop by to see the art exhibitions or the Harlem Book Fair. There are also some parent-only options should you want to call a sitter! The show has several night events that include a cocktail hour with a slightly more formal vibe. February15-18, check website for schedule of events. The Riverside Church, 91 Claremont Avenue. Cost of admission varies. hfas.org.
An Afternoon at the Apollo
Spend an afternoon at the historic Apollo Theater for a day full of presentations, performances, and more. All the different free events will explore how African Americans combatted oppression in numerous ways, including through activism, creativity, spirituality, and more, flourishing as a community. February 3, 2pm-5pm. Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street. Free, ticket required. apollotheater.org.
Meet Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass
Hear from Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass (or both!) as part of Living History, a New-York Historical Society series in which a Living Historian portrays a famous figure. This hands-on approach is a great way for kids to interact one-on-one and learn about the history of civil rights. Harriet Tubman: February 3-4, 12pm-4pm. Frederick Douglass: February 11, 11am-4pm. New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West. Free with admission. nyhistory.org.
Listen to Stories of Black Female Leadership
Share a special story time with “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” author Vashti Harrison. She’ll read from her debut picture book, which features 40 African American women who played an important role in history. The event will be followed by a Q&A and a book signing. February 25, 11am. New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West. Free with admission. nyhistory.org.
See African-American Achievements in Television
This month, the Paley Center for Media celebrates the civil rights movement’s most crucial moments through the lens of television, also taking into consideration African-American consideration in all creative fields, with African-American Achievements in Television: A Black History Spotlight Presented by Citi. The exhibit features interactive activities, crafts, and screenings. These activities are free and open to the public through the end of February. February, 12-6pm on Wednesday and Friday-Sunday, 12-8pm on Thursday. The Paley Center for Media, 25 West 52nd Street, 212-621-660, media.paleycenter.org