Celebrate Black History Month At These Great Local Events

Photo: TADA! Youth Theatre

Since it was first officially designated in February 1976, the purpose of Black History Month has been to highlight and remember the achievements and tribulations of the African American community throughout the course of United States history. From celebrated leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, to perhaps lesser-known–but no less important–figures like Dr. Aubré de Lambert Maynard and Dr. George Washington Carver, the course of United States history owes much of its development to contributions from the African American community. This February, help celebrate these contributions and learn more about American history by checking out some of these family-friendly events.

TADA! Youth Theatre’s “The History Mystery”

TADA! Youth Theatre

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through February 20

Various times

“The History Mystery” broaches many topics that can sometimes be tough to explain to young children, including women’s rights, civil rights, and the freedoms the United States was founded on. During this hour long musical, children will be able to relate to historic characters like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt as they’re portrayed onstage as teens and tweens struggling with all the typical adolescent difficulties like bullying and insecurity, along with more complicated challenges such as racism and sexism. As they watch, children will not only learn about the experiences that helped shape these historic icons, but they’ll also see how the past impacts our present. This fun performance is a fact-packed way to inspire kids to dream about a world with equality for all, and also demonstrate that anybody, no matter their age, can make a positive impact on history.

Celebrate Black History Month: George Washington Carver Workshop

Queens Botanical Garden

February 21


Described by many as the “Wizard of Tuskegee,” Dr. George Washington Carver, an African American scientist and inventor, is known mainly for the many uses he devised for peanuts and for his important contributions to the field of botany. Attendees will learn how plants played an important role in his early life and later achievements, and kids can follow in Dr. Carver’s steps as they use plants to paint and create their own healing lotion.

Morris-Jumel Mansion Tour

Morris-Jumel Mansion

February 25


This 90-minute tour, led by Morris-Jumel docent and historian Gregory Washington, details the African American presence at the Morris-Jumel Mansion. During the tour, which will be held both inside the museum and throughout the surrounding neighborhood, attendees will hear stories about Ann Northrup and her children (who lived at the home between 1841 and 1843), as well as stories about the African Americans who have lived in the Jumel Terrace Historic District from the 1930’s through present-day.

Profiles in Freedom: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Dr. Aubré Maynard, and Yun Gee

Museum of the City of New York

Through the end of February

Open daily (10am- 6pm)

In celebration of Black History Month, the Museum of the City of New York is exhibiting a portrait of Dr. Aubré de Lambert Maynard, best known for his role in helping to save Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life after a 1958 assassination attempt in Harlem. The portrait was created in 1942 by Chinese-American artist Yun Gee, who may have painted it in gratitude for Dr. Lambert’s earlier care of Gee’s wife Helen. Stop by the museum until the end of February to celebrate the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Aubré de Lambert Maynard, and Yun Gee, as well as to learn more about the events of September 20, 1958.

Say It Loud: Distinguished Black Designers of NYCOBA | NOMA

Center for Architecture

Through April 1

Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm

African Americans make up only 2% of licensed architects in the United States, and these individuals’ achievements are still often under-recognized. That’s why, over the past two years, the NYCOBA | NOMA’s Membership Highlight Initiative has decided to highlight and celebrate architects and allied professionals of color and their impacts on architecture and design. “Say It Loud: Distinguished Black Designers of NYCOBA | NOMA” features projects by 20 designers alongside quotes and video interviews on each’s experience in his or her profession. The exhibit will emphasize some of the most influential architects of color, as well as winners of the Jumaane Omar Stewart Award for New York City high school students, and the NYCOBA | NOMA Diversity in the School of Architecture Award. 

Harlem Fine Arts Show

The Riverside Church

February 16-19

Events happen all day, each day through 6pm

This February, the Harlem Fine Arts Show (HFAS) arrives just in time for Black History Month. The largest traveling African Diasporic art show in the United States, HFAS has welcomed over 60,000 visitors and showcased work in nearly a dozen cities since its founding in 2009. The festival’s mission is to create a platform for artists of all genres to empower themselves through culture, ideas, and the arts while at the same time providing “economic empowerment, educational opportunities, and professional recognition within the multicultural community.” Events include a youth empowerment day, and a gospel brunch in honor of African American nurses.

Brooklyn Abolitionists/In Pursuit of Freedom

Brooklyn Historical Society

Through winter 2018

Wednesday-Sunday, 12pm- 5pm

As part of the groundbreaking “In Pursuit of Freedom” public history project that features new research on Brooklyn’s abolition movement (in partnership with Weeksville Heritage Center and Irondale Ensemble Project), this long-term exhibit highlights the unsung heroes of Brooklyn’s anti-slavery movement. These are the people who shaped their neighborhoods, city, and nation with a vision of freedom and equality that was revolutionary during their time.