Philadelphia is known for its importance to American history, but it also has as a prominent role in black history. This Black History Month, events featuring prominent black performers, academics, art and film all pay homage to the beauty of the African diaspora and its descendants.
As a storyteller and creator of the identity series Black History Untold, Sofiya Ballin is well aware of Philadelphia’s importance to black history and the significance of celebrating it.
“Black history is so important in Philadelphia,” Ballin said. “It’s one of the oldest cities in America and there’s an amazing history that’s here. When you think about W.E.B. DuBois coming here and writing [his study] “The Philadelphia Negro,” the history of black architect Julian Abele and his designing the [Philadelphia Museum of Art], there is so much black history here that it only makes sense that we go all out in celebrating it.”
Ballin believes it is important to highlight black history at historical museums like the Museum of the American Revolution (MOAR). “At the Museum of the American Revolution — which I’m excited to tour — I’ll be talking about the trajectory of Black History Untold and the importance of the project, particularly in a space like MOAR where we’re talking about the American Revolution,” Ballin added. “Often when people hear ‘American’ and ‘revolution’ they think of white male soldiers and there were so many other people involved like black people and women. I’m really excited to delve into the importance of exploring that.”
Four Black History Month Events To Check Out
Free ‘Black Panther’ Screenings at AMC Theatres
To celebrate Black History Month, blockbuster Marvel superhero film Black Panther will be screened twice a day at local AMC theatres for free from February 1-7. In addition to offering the free screenings, media company and Marvel Studios’ owner Disney will donate $1.5 million to the United Negro College Fund in an effort to help black students attend college. Beyond its commercial success featuring a mostly black cast, Black Panther made history as the first superhero film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Mural Arts Black History Month Mural Tour
On Sunday, Feb. 10, Mural Arts offers a special tour via trolley that allows patrons to see murals throughout the city that celebrate black history. Philadelphia is known for its lush, visually stimulating murals and a tour guide helps provide context for art that celebrates seminal figures in black history like Martin Luther King, Jr.
Theatre in the X and The African American Museum Present The Colored Museum
The African American Museum hosts a free special performance art experience with West Philadelphia’s arts company Theatre in the X from Feb. 16-17. The Colored Museum centers around a artificial museum that holds key black history figures captivate as public commodities. In using 11 different museum exhibits, performers will explore the stereotypes associated with black people and examine what it means to be black.
History After Hours: Black History Month at the Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of American Revolution’s monthly nighttime event on Tuesday, Feb. 19 features discussions on black history featuring experts like Terry Buckalew from the Bethel Burying Ground Project. The creator of identity series black History Untold Sofiya Ballin will be on hand to discuss what inspired her to share stories of black history that generally go undiscussed. A special pop-up museum will allow visitors to bring a single item that reflects their backgrounds for one night only.