7 can’t-miss events for Black History Month in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia History Museum has an exhibit dedicated to Octavius V. Catto's legacy of activism. | Provided

Philadelphia has a knack for history, and that much is especially true when it comes to black history. Its brilliant community of artists, speakers, performers and musicians will share integral stories and perspectives of black culture throughout February and beyond. We’ve cultivated a list of upcoming events in the city, shining light on must-see shows, exhibits and screenings.

Black History Month Film Screening: “Disney’s Ruby Bridges”
Feb. 10; 3 p.m.
Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library
125 S. 52nd St.

Ruby Bridges was one of the first African-American children to attend the previously segregated all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis in 1960. Bridges’ story is highly revered, and she has been a significant name in civil rights activism. The Disney documentary originally debuted in 1998.

“Henry Box Brown: A Hip Hop Musical”
Feb. 8-18
Bonnell Auditorium at Community College of Philadelphia
556 N. 17th St.

Henry “Box” Brown spent 27 hours folded into a wooden box and mailed himself from slavery in Virginia to freedom in Philadelphia. In this hip-hop musical, Grammy-award nominee Karl “Dice Raw” Jenkins, best known for his collaboration with The Roots, introduces us to Box and tells a different kind of slave narrative.

“The Black Panther Project: A Living Oral History”
Feb. 10-11
Community Education Center
3500 Lancaster Ave

Iron Age Theatre and Theatre in the X collaborate to give voice to the Black Panther Party movement. Oral histories and music of the Black Panthers from a ground level perspective tell many of the unheard and often misunderstood stories of the Panther efforts for racial and social justice.

“Black Pulp!”
Through April 29
African American Museum of Philadelphia
701 Arch St.

“​Black Pulp!” is an unprecedented overview of a century (1912–2016) of image production by black artists and publishers, and non-black artists and publishers who foreground the black experience. The exhibition sets historical material in dialogue with contemporary art that explores the creative and strategic use of printed media, including small-run magazines, novels, posters, comic books and fine art prints that challenge racial narratives and preconceived notions of the black experience.

“Stoop Daze”
Feb. 23-25
Mar. 2-4
The Klein Theatre at The Church of the Advocate
2121 Gratz St.

“Stoop Daze” focuses on Philadelphia natives tackling the struggles of relationships, school, self-confidence, conception, and the fear of failure. Although weary from witnessing the unjust treatment of innocent African Americans, they face these challenges head-on as they prepare to take action in the form of a protest. Yet, when tragedy hits home, their faith is questioned.

“Taking A Stand For Equality: Octavius V. Catto”
Through March 31
Philadelphia History Museum
15 S. 7th St.

“Taking a Stand for Equality” highlights Octavius V. Catto’s legacy of activism for equal access to education, public transportation, voting rights, and full citizenship. Catto, who was assassinated in 1871—a move meant to intimidate black voters—continued to live on as an inspiration for the black community in Philadelphia. The exhibition will feature artifacts from Philadelphia’s historic African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas where Catto served on the vestry, in addition to a variety of documents and images recording Catto’s life and service from the Philadelphia City Archives, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and more.

“Sittin In”
Wed., Feb. 4
8 p.m.
The Kimmel Center
300 S. Broad St.

Anthony Tidd, Sonny James of Ill Vibe Collective, Stacey Wilson and more will grace the stage in this year’s “Sittin’ In” Performance at The Kimmel Center. The annual show, celebrating its sixth year, can be described as a huge jam session, introducing audiences to cutting-edge artists that defy genres, drawing from everything from straight-ahead jazz to freestyle hip-hop. 

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