The best Black History Month events in NYC

Honor (and get inspired by) some talented African-Americans during these epic and educational Black History Month events
Jumaane Williams, New York City Council Member (Brooklyn 45th District) - The Drum Major Instinct
Photograph: Courtesy David Andrako
By Dorkys Ramos and Jennifer Picht |
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One of the best things to do in February is celebrate Black History Month. NYC offers many ways you can show your appreciation for African-American culture. Take a tour through the historic neighborhood of Harlem, and followed by dininig at one of the best Harlem restaurants. 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's also music and spoken word performances, parties and more fun events to attend all month long.

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Best Black History Month events in NYC

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Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros./Photofest
Things to do

Fight the Power: Black Superheroes on Film

As the world gears up for the release of Marvel’s Black Panther, the Brooklyn Academy of Music hosts a two-week film series dedicated to black screen actors any superhero fan will love. But as the saying goes, not all heroes wear capes: Some sport platform boots, black trench coats or spiffy business suits as depicted in flicks like as Foxy Brown, Blade and Men in Black.

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Collaboration: Warhol & Basquiat
Photograph: Rick Stockwell
Things to do, Talks and lectures

Brooklyn Talks: "A Tribute to Basquiat"

Fans of American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat can reminisce over his work during this talk led by artists Def Jam Cey Adams, photographer Maripol and others highlighting their favorite Basquiat masterpiece. The chat concludes with a conversation about the creator's legacy.

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Things to do

Martin Luther King’s “The Drum Major Instinct”

The Brooklyn Public Library gives everyone a chance to revel in the legendary activist’s wise and captivating teachings. Actor Samira Wiley performs a dramatized reading of King’s 50-year-old sermon “The Drum Major Instinct,” an inspiring speech about leadership and influence. An open conversation about racism, inequality and social justice follows the performance.

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Photograph: Courtesy Harlem Fine Arts Show
Things to do

Harlem Fine Arts Show

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. 

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Miller Theatre (at Columbia University)
Photograph: Chad Batka
Things to do

Salute Black History Month: Lift Every Voice and Sing!

Prepare to get goosebumps at this concert celebrating the achievements of John Rosamond Johnson—one of the earliest and most renowned African-American composers during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. Listen to the beautiful vocals of Harlem Opera Theater as they sing the words to Johnson’s melodies, including “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song which the NAACP has called “the Black National Anthem.” Fun fact: The lyrics were written by the composer’s brother and poet James Weldon Johnson.

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Harlem Courthouse
Photograph: Laura Gallant
Things to do, Walks and tours

Harlem's Historic Faces and Places

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.

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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Things to do

The Harlem Chamber Players' 10th Annual Black History Month Celebration

The Harlem Chamber Players, a non-profit dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion within the arts, teams up with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to present a blend of classical music with a full band. Pieces by African-American pianists Mikael Darmanie and James David Jr. are accompanied by violinist Ashley Horne, cellist Robert Burkhart, soprano Andréa Bradford, baritone Jorell Williams and more.

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Things to do

Black in Brooklyn

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.

Want to go to a museum this month?

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