African-American culture has played a significant role in shaping Philadelphia since the city's founding. Celebrate this rich history with special events and exhibits throughout the month of February. From discussions about the abolitionist movement, to rare showcases of modernist art, Philadelphia offers a wide variety of options to honor influential African Americans.

On February 17, 18, and 20, from 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., enjoy free stories about African Americans who have broken down barriers, and their role in U.S. history, at the Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Bench inside the Independence Visitor Center.

See below for other great happenings commemorating African-American heritage in Philadelphia this month.


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Marian Anderson Day

>>CELEBRATE a legend 

If you don't know the story of America's great opera singer, Marian Anderson, you will soon--when her face is memorialized on the new $5 bill. Anderson performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, a landmark concert made necessary when Anderson was denied the opportunity to perform in another segregated venue. When she sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee," it was an eye-opening moment and catalyst of the civil rights movement. A Philadelphia native, Anderson's house in South Philadelphia is now a museum, which will debut a new exhibit, "Marian and The People," in celebration of Anderson's 120th birthday. The Independence Visitor Center joins in the celebration with a free birthday celebration for Marian, including music and cupcakes, on February 25.
 
Hours: Saturday, February 25, 9:00 a.m. - Noon
Location: Independence Visitor Center

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Independence National Historical Park

>>SEE where it all began

Independence National Historical Park will host Park Ranger-led programs and slide shows every Saturday in February inside of the Independence Visitor Center, as well as its year-round programming "President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation," which explores the paradox of slavery and freedom in an open-air replica of the nation’s first executive mansion.

>>"Free Blacks in Philadelphia History: From Slave Ships to City Hall." Historian Joe Becton spotlights the accomplishments of free blacks like Absalom Jones, Robert Purvis, and others who contributed much to early Philadelphia and the nation.
Hours: Saturday, February 4, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. 
Location: Independence Visitor Center

>>"Lessons from the Earth: Uncovering Black History." 
Join the Park archeologist for a slide program that offers a glimpse into the world of people like James Oronoco Dexter, a free black coachman; and Oney Judge, Martha Washington’s enslaved maid.
Hours: Saturday, February 11, 1:00 - 1:45 p.m.
Location: Independence Visitor Center

>>"Philadelphia's Forgotten Hero: Octavius V. Catto." 
Be inspired by the story of the great 19th century civil rights activist. Catto fought for education, justice, and equality for all.
Hours: Saturday, February 18, 1:00 - 1:45 p.m.
Location: Independence Visitor Center

>>"Pennsylvania Hall: A New Perspective in the Fight for Freedom.Hear about the promise of Pennsylvania Hall, the abolitionist meeting place that stood for just three days before being destroyed.
Hours: Saturday, February 25, 1:00 - 1:45 p.m.
Location: Independence Visitor Center

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National Constitution Center

>>DISCOVER key milestones

The National Constitution Center offers ways for visitors to customize their learning experience with special programming throughout the month. Its interactive "Breaking Barriers" show examines the lives of Thurgood Marshall, Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson, and other groundbreaking citizens who faced struggles to secure rights for all Americans.
With "Decoding the Document: Emacipation Proclamation Document Workshop," visitors can take a closer look at the museum's rare printing of the Proclamation to learn more about its history, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. Self-guided tour materials are also available at the front desk.
 
Hours: Monday - Saturday, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, Noon - 5:00 p.m. 
Location: National Constitution Center

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The African American Museum

>>EXPERIENCE culture come alive 

The African American Museum in Philadelphia is the first institution built by a major United States city to house and interpret the life and work of African Americans. Visitors can experience the richness and vibrancy of African American heritage and culture in four exhibition galleries year-round, including Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776 - 1876, a permanent exhibit that tells the stories of, and contributions made by, people of African descent in Philadelphia during the tumultuous years following the founding of our nation; and Waging Peace: 100 Years of Action, a new interactive traveling exhibition that demonstrates the effectiveness of nonviolence to build justice, overcome oppression and prevent violence using the provocative stories of those who fought against injustice and those who have been helped in the fight during the last century, with a call-to-action for today.
 
Hours: Thursday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, Noon - 5:00 p.m. 
Location: African American Museum in Philadelphia

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Mural Arts Trolley Tour

>>READ a visual autobiography 

The Mural Arts Program is offering a special mural trolley tour that explores civil rights, freedom, and equality. In honor of Black History Month, this mural tour features a rich collection of images that explore civil rights, freedom, and equality through the lens of modern street art. Tours are led by experienced guides who will explain the history of the iconic African American figures pictured; as well as the murals' artists, and the mural-making process. 
 
Hours: Sunday, February 26, 2:00 p.m.
Location: Tours leave from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building

 

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Philadelphia History Museum

>>UNDERSTAND the evolving story

The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent tells how Philadelphians challenged the institution of slavery. In honor and celebration of Black History Month, visitors can explore the unique city stories of Philadelphia's African American communities from Revolutionary America to contemporary times by visiting both the Philadelphia History Museum and the African American Museum in Philadelphia for half off. Purchase a ticket at either Museum and present your receipt for 50 percent off individual tickets to the other museum! 
 
Hours: February 2017; Regular hours of operation
Location: Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent + The African American Museum of Philadelphia

 

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Marian Anderson Day

>>CELEBRATE a legend 

If you don't know the story of America's great opera singer, Marian Anderson, you will soon--when her face is memorialized on the new $5 bill. Anderson performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, a landmark concert made necessary when Anderson was denied the opportunity to perform in another segregated venue. When she sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee," it was an eye-opening moment and catalyst of the civil rights movement. A Philadelphia native, Anderson's house in South Philadelphia is now a museum, which will debut a new exhibit, "Marian and The People," in celebration of Anderson's 120th birthday. The Independence Visitor Center joins in the celebration with a free birthday celebration for Marian, including music and cupcakes, on February 25.
 
Hours: Saturday, February 25, 9:00 a.m. - Noon
Location: Independence Visitor Center

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