16 ideas to celebrate Black History Month in New York City

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By Dan Sears

February is Black History Month, and New Yorkers have a variety of ways to celebrate the legacies and achievements of Black people across the African diaspora.

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Across the boroughs, events like concerts, film screenings, art classes, and even a 24-hour party will take place to mark the occasion.

Below are 16 ideas to honor Black History Month.

See dance from Ghana, Guinea and Cuba on the Lower East Side

Brooklyn-based Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation is celebrating Black History Month with “The Rhythms & Movements of African American Culture Festival.”

It will showcase a variety of dance styles including hip-hop and modern dance, from Ghana, Guinea, Senegal and Cuba at Abrons Art Center on the Lower East Side. It runs twice a day, with showing at 10:30 a.m. and noon, from Feb. 12 through Feb. 18. Tickets are around $30. For more information visit here.

Enjoy ‘Drunk Black History’

If history’s your jam, then the comedy show “Drunk Black History” might be for you. It happens on Saturday, Feb. 10 at Caveat on the Lower East Side and features comedians including Charles McBee, from the now-canceled talk show “Hell of a Week with Charlamagne tha God,” retelling stories of historical Black figures while “skunked out of their mind.” Tickets are around $24 and you can purchase them here.

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The recreated parlor of Joseph and Rachel Moore’s home on the 5th floor of 97 Orchard Street

Courtesy of the Tenement Museum

See the Tenement Museum’s new exhibit about a Black family

For the first time in its history, the Lower East Side’s Tenement Museum is featuring a Black family in a new exhibition called “A Union of Hope: 1869.” It explores the story of Joseph and Rachel Moore, who lived in Lower Manhattan in the 1870s. The tour lasts about 75 minutes and tickets start at $30. For more information visit here.

Hear the Harlem Chamber Players in Brooklyn

Enjoy works by Black composers at “Classical Interludes: Harlem Chamber Players Black History Month Concert” at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. This concert will feature The Harlem Chamber Players performing pieces from Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and Carlos Simon, among others. The concert is Feb. 24, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. The event is free, though RSVPs are required.

DeForrest Brown Jr. performing as Speaker Music at Dweller 2.

Ting for Dweller

Party the nights away at Dweller Festival

Dweller, the annual electronic music festival that aims to highlight Black DJs, returns to New York City in late February. This year’s festival features six days of club nights and live performances from artists including rising singer-songwriter KeiyaA, British DJ Josey Rebelle, and alternative R&B artist Liv.e.

For folks with a little more stamina, a 24-hour party at Nowadays in Queens starts on Feb. 24. The festival kicks off Tuesday, Feb. 20 and runs through Feb. 25. Ticket prices vary but many shows start around $23. For more information visit here.

Check out movies, art workshops and more at Brooklyn public libraries

Public libraries across Brooklyn will host an array of Black History Month festivities, including movie nights, art workshops and cooking classes.

You can catch Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” at the Park Slope branch on Feb. 9 at 3:30 p.m., while kids can make art with colorful Pan-African patterns over at the Sunset Park branch on Feb. 12 at 4 p.m. For a full calendar of events visit here.

Archibald J. Motley, Jr.’s The Picnic

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

See “The Harlem Renaissance” at the Met

“The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism” opens at the Met on Sunday, Feb. 25, and will feature a mix of 160 sculptures, photographs, and films that highlight life from the 1920s to the 1940s. Works from artists including Meta Warrick Fuller, Palmer Hayden and Augusta Savage will be on view. For more information what else will be on view and on tickets visit here.

Learn about people who shaped the future of long-distance running

The New York Historical Society on the Upper West Side is featuring an exhibition called “Running for Civil Rights: The New York Pioneer Club, 1936 – 1976.” It examines the legacies of Ted Corbitt and Joseph Yancey, two Black men who helped pioneer long distance running in the United States. Other upcoming events include a discussion titled “The Legacy of Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre,” and a discussion on “Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary: A Biography” by Walter Dean Myers.

Take your family to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum will host a week of activities as part of the “Black Future Festival,” which honors Black talents from the past and looks toward the future. The museum will host Black History Month-inspired dance performances, storytelling events, and art classes from Feb. 18 through Feb. 25. Kids will be able to make their own Afrofuturistic comic book cover at one event, and hear stories about Bed-Stuy at another. Tickets start at around $15. For more information visit here.

Learn more about Langston Hughes

An exhibition about poet Langston Hughes and his friendship with photographer and filmmaker Griffith J. Davis is on view now at Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. It features photos, personal letters between Davis and Hughes, and archival material from the Center, including a letter from Hughes to playwright Lorraine Hansberry. The free exhibit runs through July 8, 2024. For more information visit here.

Untitled (Model Who Embraced Natural Hairstyles at AJASS Photoshoot), circa 1970, printed 2018. Kwame Brathwaite (Brooklyn, New York, 1938–2023, New York, New York).

Photo by Joshua White / JWPictures.com. The Dean Collection, courtesy of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys. © Kwame Brathwaite.

See art from the private collection of Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz

World-famous musicians Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys are offering over 100 art pieces from their collection in a new Brooklyn Museum exhibition called “Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys.” The show starts Feb. 10 and will feature art from the couple’s collection, including works by artists like Gordon Parks, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Lorna Simpson, among others. Tickets are available and start at $26 for adults. For more information visit here.

Sip tea, and listen to the words of Maya Angelou in the Bronx

Crotona Nature Center in The Bronx is hosting “Black History Month: Herbal Brews, Hues and Maya Angelou.” During the hour-and-a-half-long event, attendees can drink tea while listening to poetry by Maya Angelou. There will also be a chance for people to write their own poetry. The free event takes place at 1 p.m. on Feb. 11. For more information visit here.

Listen to free talks from Black writers and politicians at 92NY

92NY is hosting a series of events including a concert from Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald, and a discussion on basketball’s role in racial politics in the United States. An archive of free talks from Black writers, politicians, and scholars is available on 92NY’s YouTube page. For a look at all their offerings visit here.

Go for a walk with the Urban Park Rangers in Queens

Want to learn about history while you walk? Head to the Daniel Carter Beard Mall and walk with the Urban Park Rangers for “Black History Month: Flushing Freedom Mile.” On the walk, you’ll learn about the Underground Railroad and some local sites, including the John Bowne House, the Lewis Latimer House and the Friends Meeting House. The free event happens at 11 a.m. on Feb. 25. For more information visit here.

Take the kids to celebrate a new children’s book about Black families

Karida L. Brown and Charly Palmer authored a new children’s book, “The New Brownies’ Book: A Love Letter To Black Families,” and are hosting a free book talk at Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on Monday, Feb. 12 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The book is a collection of poems and art created for kids, and draws inspiration from the magazine W. E. B. Du Bois made for kids in the 1920s, also called “The Brownies’ Book.” For more information visit here.

Hear poetry by Audre Lorde on Staten Island

Celebrate writer Audre Lorde’s legacy at Silver Lake Park on Staten Island with the Urban Park Rangers on Saturday, Feb. 10. The free, hourlong event kicks off at 11 a.m. and will feature people reading Lorde’s work and then writing their own poetry. For more information, visit here.

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