By Jessica Allen
Celebrating black history and culture, Black History Month offers an opportunity to reflect, reconsider and revel. This February, an array of activities will take place throughout the five boroughs. Below are our recommendations for five you won’t want to miss.
Brooklyn Abolitionists/In Pursuit of Freedom
The Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
This winter the Brooklyn Historical Society seeks to tell the stories of the “unsung heroes of Brooklyn’s anti-slavery movement—ordinary residents, black and white—who shaped their neighborhoods, city, and nation with a revolutionary vision of freedom and equality.” Also on display is a replica of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, along with an exhibition placing the document into historical context. Ongoing, see website for details, tickets required.
830 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10029
Central Park has its very own art gallery, and this month it celebrates Black History with an exhibition of work by nine artists exploring the theme of identity, using “elements of swag, spirituality, icons, music, and social justice,” as well as a variety of fiber media, from quilts to embroidery. The exhibition was organized by the NYC Parks Ebony Society, which has worked to promote Black History Month using art and artists since 1991. Now through Friday, February 23, free.
253 West 125th St.
New York, NY 10027
This year’s Open House at the legendary Apollo Theater features two free afternoon programs: one entitled “Still, We Rise!,” featuring performances and talks on spirituality and environment, and the other called “Tell Them We Are Rising,” which tackles the topic of historically black universities and colleges. After a screening of the eponymous documentary, there will be a panel discussion. Saturday, February 3, and Sunday, February 4, 2 to 5 pm, free, tickets required.
Harlem Chamber Players Black History Month Concert
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY, 10037
In honor of Black History Month, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will be hosting a number of events, including an exhibition of key items from the Harlem Renaissance and related Q&A with curators. The Harlem Chamber Players will be performing their 10th Annual Black History Month Celebration concert, including a performance of Nonet, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s piece for winds, strings, and piano. Thursday, February 15, concert begins at 6:30 pm, free.
George Washington Carver Children’s Workshop
Queens Botanical Garden
43-50 Main St.
Queens, NY 11355
Known as the “Wizard of Tuskegee,” Dr. George Washington Carver made tremendous contributions to medicine, botany, industrial engineering, and agriculture. He devoted his life to research and study. This kid-focused workshop helps little ones understand Carver’s efforts and accomplishments. Participants will paint with plants and create a special lotion to take home. This popular annual workshop will definitely sell out. Tuesday, February 20, 1 to 2:30 pm, $6, advanced registration required.
Seneca Village: Central Park
New York, NY 10017
Kick off Black History Month with a tour of Seneca Village. From 2 -3:30 p.m. on February 1st visit the portion of New York City that once was a community of African-American property owners before the development of Central Park. The tour meets at 85th Street and Central Park West. Tickets are $10-$15. Then on February 17 from 1 -2:30 p.m. the Urban Park Rangers host a history lesson on the area, which is free.
Vivian Reed Sings Lena Horne
254 W. 54th St.
New York, NY 10019
Vivian Reed celebrates civil rights activist and legendary singer Lena Horne’s 100th birthday at Feinstein’s 54/Below. February 7 marks a return to the “cellar” where she honors her idol amongst a four-piece band. Hear Reed’s take on Horne’s standards that has received great reviews since the opening in Pittsburgh.
B.B.King Blues Club & Grill
237 W. 42nd St.
New York, NY 10036
February at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill celebrates Black History Month with musical performances by Regina Belle, the Harlem Gospel Choir, George Clinton and more. Enjoy brunch, cocktails and bites as you go back in time with tributes to Louis Armstrong, Bob Marley and Motown.