One of the best things to do in February is celebrate Black History Month. NYC offers a bounty of ways you can show your appreciation for African-American culture. Take a tour through the historic neighborhood of Harlem, and don’t forget to dine at one of the best Harlem restaurants while you’re there. You can also take a trolley tour through Green-Wood Cemetery where notables like Susan Smith McKinney Steward (the first female black doctor in New York State) are buried. There are also music and spoken word performances, parties and more.
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Best Black History Month events in NYC
Kick off the Apollo Theater’s 2017 season with the always anticipated “Amateur Night at the Apollo.” Past winners include stars like Ella Fitzgerald, the Jackson 5 and Billie Holiday. This year’s winner takes home $20,000 and a chance to jumpstart their career in entertainment. Be good or be gone!
The annual Harlem Fine Arts Show, which includes a fine-arts exhibition and sale, celebrates African-American art in all its forms. The opening reception hosed by Delta Sigma Theta (BAC) and Riverside Church Foundations salutes African-Americans in medicine with a champagne toast and live jazz, Friday focuses on youth empowerment, and the weekend’s events include a lecture and artist talk as well as a gospel brunch and a salute to African-American nurses.
Taste Harlem offers food and cultural tours of one of New York’s most celebrated nabes. The History & Architectural Landscape Tour explores the most spectacular features of notable theaters, religious buildings and residential homes, as well as the history of Harlem’s transformation from one of the largest Jewish neighborhoods in the world to the home of its current mixed population. Location disclosed after ticket purchase.
If you’ve ever wondered what you’d look like as a cartoon, this is your chance! The visual storytellers and creators of graphic novel Other Side of Wall Street, on the African diaspora in New York City, are on hand to transform attendees into comic characters. DJ Goodwill fills the air with house, Caribbean, blues and hip-hop beats; drinks are poured at the cash bar.
Does black literature really lack marketability? Author Elizabeth Nunez sits down with Essence book editor Patrik Henry Bass, Random House publisher Chris Jackson, president of the Authors’ Guild Roxana Robinson and editorial director at Akashic Books Ibrahim Ahmad to dissect this assumption.
Harlem shakes things up with a weeklong celebration hosted by cultural movement AFROPUNK. Join in on panel discussions, live musical performances, film screenings and comedy shows taking place throughout the historic neighborhood. Don’t miss: “Unapologetically Black: The African-American Songbook Remixed,” Apollo Theater’s tribute to black protest music, with special guests Jill Scott, Bilal, Toshi Reagon and others (February 25 at 7:30pm, $24–$179).
Arts organization Groupmuse, which links classical musicians with hosts for living-room listening parties, teams up with the Brooklyn Historical Society to present a blend of classical music with rap and spoken word. Pieces by African-American composers and lyricists, including Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Maya Angelou, are accompanied by violin, cello and piano compositions.
Take a trolley tour through Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, where notables like Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first female black doctor in New York State, Jeremiah Hamilton, New York City’s first black millionaire, and Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat have been laid to rest. After, the group heads to Weeksville—a neighborhood founded by African-American freedmen in what is presently Crown Heights—for a box lunch, a viewing of Weeksville Heritage Center’s exhibition “Weeksville, Transforming Community/In Pursuit of Freedom,” and a tour of the historic 19th-century Hunterfly Road Houses.