Three Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, as one of the most historic U.S. cities, is rich with Black history. It is where abolitionists like William Still and Harriet Tubman helped people escape slavery via the Underground Railroad. It is home to Black artists, athletes, lawyers, doctors, sergeants, activists, and other change makers and leaders.

This (by no means exhaustive) list showcases Philly events, landmarks and tours that serve to educate and celebrate during Black History Month.

Take a walking tour

7th Ward Tribute: 90-minute tours, every Saturday through Feb. 23, starting at 11 a.m., departs from Mother Bethel Fellowship Hall at 419 S. 6th St. “In tribute to the Black City Makers who built this vital hub, we invite you to step back through time. Visit community landmarks and get to know prominent locals who worked relentlessly to uplift the Seventh Ward–people like Octavius Catto, Fanny Jackson Coppin, or W.E.B. Du Bois, who famously mapped and studied the area in his groundbreaking sociological work, The Philadelphia Negro.”

Black History on South Street: A Self-Guided Tour: “Black History and South Street History are inseparable: the all-Black Engine #11 fire station; the Seventh Ward and sociological studies of W.E.B. DuBois…The growth and evolution of South Street would not be possible without the cultural input and impact of Black community members, neighbors, and business owners. Take a trip through Black history on and around South Street with this self-guided tour of Black history, culture, and community in the South Street Headhouse District!” Click here for more information and to access the map.

Celebrate Black art

The theme for Black History Month this year is “African Americans and the Arts”.

Black History Month Civic Heroes Trolley Tour: Tours run through Feb. 25 from 10 – 11:30 a.m. and depart from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), 128 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia. “In celebration of Black History month, join us for a special trolley tour featuring murals that represent iconic Black figures, civic heroes, and insightful social justice issues. A professional tour guide will take guests through Philadelphia neighborhoods to view these stunning and impactful murals, hear the stories behind each work of art, and learn about the artists as well as the mural-making process.”
Check out more Black history in murals here.

“Tribute to Harriet Tubman” by artist Sam Donovan, 2950 Germantown Ave. This mural commemorates abolitionists, activists freedmen and freedwomen like Harriet Tubman, who led at least 70 people out of slavery over the course of 13 dangerous missions.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia: “The African American Museum in Philadelphia Celebrates and Commemorates Black History Month by exploring the theme of “African Americans and the Arts” and offering inclusive programming for visitors of all ages and backgrounds, bringing together diverse audiences in greater appreciation of the Black Experience.”

Visit historic landmarks and institutions

Plenty of Philadelphia institutions are highlighting the history and contributions of Black Americans in February. Those include:

  • Betsy Ross House: Click here for more information on History Maker Saturdays and Storytelling Sundays. “Meet influential African Americans from Colonial America and hear true stories of the Black experience in Philadelphia history for free at the Betsy Ross House during Black History Month!”
  • The Franklin Institute: “Throughout the month, images of notable African American achievers in science, including Astronaut Guion Bluford and NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson, as well as Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts and other local Philadelphians currently making waves in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, and medicine, will rotate on the screens in Franklin Hall and some throughout exhibit galleries.”
  • National Constitution Center: “Celebrate Black History Month by viewing our exhibits featuring some of the many African Americans who transformed constitutional history—including Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Robert Smalls, and Sojourner Truth—to better understand the long fight for freedom and equality.”
  • Free Library of Philadelphia: Click here to access the schedule. “Join us during Black History Month as we celebrate the rich heritage, culture, and achievements of African Americans. Explore our diverse collection, and attend events that entertain and inspire!”