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Black History Month is here and there are plenty of ways to celebrate with these events and exhibits in the city. From a 30-artist collection, jazz and hip-hop sessions, movie screenings, music, and a performance celebrating 50 years of preserving African American dance traditions, there’s enough to get the month started off right. Some of the events have virtual alternatives, too, which is always a welcome option.
Dreams of Freedom
Philadelphia City Hall, 1400 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Through March 31, 2022
The Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy presents Dreams of Freedom: The Threads That Hold Us Together, a multimedia exhibition featuring the works of 30 artists inspired by Harriet Tubman. Featuring contributions from the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University Libraries and the Lest We Forget Museum, the exhibit honors Tubman’s life and impact as an abolitionist, Underground Railroad conductor, and women suffragist. This year also marks the 200th anniversary of her birth. Catch the exhibition at City Hall, or view the virtual exhibition online.
Angel sings the blues
Kimmel Cultural Campus’s Verizon Hall, 300 S. Broad Street
Soprano Angel Blue comes to the Kimmel Cultural Campus for a performance drawing from Knoxville: Summer of 1915 by Samuel Barber, a vocal work by Valerie Coleman inspired by Philadelphia poet Sonia Sanchez, and Florence Price, the first symphonic work by a Black woman to be played by a major American orchestra.
Philadanco celebrates 50 years
Friday, February 4, 7:30pm
In-person at Teatro Esperanza, 4261 N. 5th Street; streaming online
Philadanco is celebrating its 50th anniversary (which would have been in 2020—thanks, Covid) just in time for Black History Month. The company has worked over the decades to celebrate and preserve predominantly African American traditions in dance, and on Friday, will honor that with a night of dance.
Jazz, hip-hop, and Harriet
African American Museum in Philadelphia
February 5-6, times vary
AAMP is offering a pair of events to open Black History Month. First up is Learning through the Arts: Hip Hop Jazz Musicology, an event included with general admission that will teach participants about the social, historical, and musical influences on hip-hop music and how it relates to other genres within African American traditions and culture. The session will be led by Text Rich Ali, a Philly-based music educator and multi-instrumentalist.
Then, on Sunday, AAMP is virtually screening Harriet, the 2019 film about Harriet Tubman’s life. It stars Cynthia Erivo (Broad City, Genius), Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and one of my personal favorite beings on the planet), and Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton … I probably don’t need to say more than that for most of you). It’s also free to the public.
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