How to celebrate Black History Month 2022 in New York City

February 7, 2022

“Renaming Project” Exhibition, Photo Credit: Daniel Avila / NYC Parks

In the United States, February is a month dedicated to the celebration of African American history and culture. Ahead find a variety of events to commemorate Black History Month in New York City, ranging from community service and walking tours to jazz concerts and live performances.

The Paley Center’s Salute to Black Achievements in Television 
The Paley Center for Media is hosting a variety of in-person programs and panel discussions celebrating the achievements of Black TV icons over television’s nine-decade history. Starting on February 5 and running until February 27, exhibit programs include:

  • Commemoration of the premiere of Sanford and Son’s 50th anniversary, and the centennial of comedian Redd Foxx.
  • Gallery exhibit featuring milestones of Black TV’s most accomplished figures throughout the decades.
  • Iconic costumes like Maya Rudolph’s “Vice President Kamala Harris” pantsuit and Kenan Thompson’s “Diondre Cole” suit from Saturday Night Live.
  • A virtual event on February 3 with the cast of ABC’s ‘The Wonder Years’ reboot, discussing the importance of telling a coming-of-age story to this generation.
  • Interactive trivia questions on Black TV personalities and visionaries.
  • Family fun and educational programming including arts & crafts, classes, and a home guide with viewing recommendations.

Image courtesy of Flushing Town Hall

Black History Trilogy at Flushing Town Hall
Flushing Town Hall’s Black History Trilogy is returning this year, a three-part series featuring award-winning Broadway stars paying tribute to influential African-American artists and entertainers.

  • The trilogy begins on February 12 at 7 p.m. with a tribute to one of the most influential electric guitarists in both the history of the instrument and popular music, Jimi Hendrix. The event is titled Third Stone from the Sun – A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix and is led by the longest-running and most authentic Hendrix tribute artist, Jimy Bleu. Bleu will be joined by Moby Medina on the bass guitar and Ted Edwards on drums.
  • On Sunday, February 20 at 7 p.m., the second part of the trilogy commences with the presentation of The Black King of Vaudeville – Remembering Bert Williams in Song, featuring Tony-nominated actor Larry Marshall. The presentation celebrates the life and music of Bert Williams, the first Black American to push against racial barriers and avoid the typical tropes of being a Black entertainer in the Vaudeville era.
  • For the final part of the trilogy, award-winning Broadway actress Tina Fabrique is leading The Power & The Glory – Music of the Black Church, a commemoration of Gospel music.

Tickets for each event are $15 and $12 for members of Flushing Town Hall. The events will be live-streamed for free here.

Image courtesy of Daniel Avila / NYC Parks

NYC Park’s “Renaming Project” Exhibition
NYC Parks is hosting an exhibition that brings attention to parks or parts of NYC Parks that have been recently renamed to honor the Black experience in NYC. The exhibition “The NYC Parks Renaming Project: Celebrating Black Leaders,” is on view at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park now until February 28. The gallery exhibition focuses on 28 recently renamed park spaces, presenting historical images from the NYC Parks photo archive and placing them beside contemporary images and text that details the park’s history and biographies of the honored individuals.

“This year’s Black History Month exhibition is a moving retrospective of our renewed effort to incorporate Black history into the fabric of our city,” Liam Kavanagh, NYC Parks Acting Commissioner, said. “With archival and recent photographs of more than a dozen newly named park spaces, the show helps to preserve the legacy of these influential people and places. It illustrates our ongoing work to make the park system more diverse and reflective of the people it serves.”

Since NYC Parks promised it would demonstrate its solidarity with the Black community in 2020, 28 park spaces have been renamed to honor the legacy of Black Americans, including Gil Scott-Heron Amphitheater in St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx, Lena Horne Bandshell in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Malcolm X Promenade in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, among others.

Image courtesy of Michelle Alerte

Black History Month Pop-Up Shops
Each Saturday this month from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. the New Women Space in Brooklyn is hosting a pop-up shop event that features an incredible mix of Black, womxn, and queer-owned local and small businesses. Vendors will be offering a wide variety of items and services, ranging anywhere from jewelry and clothing to tarot card readings. Come enjoy live music, grab a drink, and support local business owners!

Flushing Freedom Mile
On February 13 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. the Urban Park Rangers will be leading a walk of historic Flushing known as the Flushing Freedom Mile. This mile stretch of Flushing includes sites that are important to the history of freedom in the United States. Historic landmarks like the John Bowne House and Friends Meeting House are included in the walk, structures that were rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad. The event will begin at Northern Boulevard and Linden Place in Queens. More information on the event can be found here.

Image courtesy of Carte-de-visite of Frederick Douglass, late 19th century

Our Composite Nation: Frederick Douglass’ America
On February 12, the New-York Historical Society is opening Our Composite Nation: Frederick Douglass’ America, a special installation that honors the life and legacy of one of America’s most prolific freedom fighters. The installation is named after one of Frederick Douglass’ most iconic speeches written at the end of the Civil War, which paints a picture of Douglass’ optimistic view of a new America during the era of Reconstruction. Tickets can be purchased here.

Seneca Village
The Urban Park Rangers will be leading a program that teaches participants about Seneca Village, a 19th-century settlement inhabited by mostly African American landowners in Central Park. The event will teach guests about the lives of Seneca Village’s residents and the community’s place in New York City before the creation of Central Park. The event will take place on February 13 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and will be held at 81st Street and Central Park West. More information on the event can be found here.

Image courtesy of NYC Parks

Phil Young Experience Jazz Concert
On February 17 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Jazz Foundation of America is putting on a celebration of Black History Month with a jazz concert led by Phil Young. A beloved figure in the Uptown community, Young is an esteemed drummer who over the course of his career as a musician has played with the likes of Bobby “Blue” Bland, Jimi Hendrix, George Benson, Art Farmer, and Dizzy Gillespie. This event will also feature a number of special guests. The concert will take place at the Hansborough Recreation Center on 35 West 134th Street. More information on the concert can be found here.

Audre Lorde Walk
On February 20, the Urban Park Rangers are leading a walk through Staten Island’s Silver Lake Park that. The walk honors the legacy of famous New York City-born poet Audre Lorde, who drew inspiration from the park’s natural beauty in her work. The walk will begin at the intersection of Forest Avenue and Silver Lake Park Road. More information on the event can be found here.

14th Annual Black History Month Celebration
The Harlem Chamber Players are presenting the 14th annual Black History Month celebration on February 23 at 6 p.m at the Harlem School of the Arts. The program features performances of three pieces written by famous Black composers. The first is Ennanga by William Grant Still, We Met at the Symphony by Nkeiru Okoye, and Through This Vale of Tears by David Baker. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors.

Image courtesy of The Standard, High Line

Pix on the Plaza at The Standard, High Line
In celebration of Black History Month, the outdoor movie theater located at The Standard on the High Line is screening fan-favorite films starring Black directors and Black actors. Situated in the Standard Plaza’s seasonal pop-up The Forest, guests can watch incredible films in a winter-themed space complete with twinkling lights, pine trees, and space heaters. Complimentary popcorn is served with every movie, with candy, hot beverages, and comfort foods available for purchase. You can find a full list of the movies that are playing here.

The Black Index at Hunter College Art Galleries
The traveling group exhibition The Black Index is moving into the Hunter College Art Galleries. The exhibition features work from Dennis Delgado, Alicia Henry, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Titus Kaphar, Whitfield Lovell, and Lava Thomas. These artists use the tradition of Black self-representation as an antidote to colonialist images. On view until April 3, 2022, The Black Index features work that makes viewers realize their own expectations of Black figuration by disrupting traditional epistemologies of portraiture through unexpected and unconventional depictions.

“The Negro Motorist Green-Book.” Photograph by Robert Kato

Treasures: Voices in Black History
The New York Public Library’s Polonsky Exhibition has compiled a special selection of objects that tell the stories and experiences of iconic Black writers, artists, activists, and more. Many of the artifacts are part of the Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Highlights from the collection include texts written by Ida B. Wells, Frederick Douglass, and Maya Angelou and a page of Malcolm X’s unpublished autobiography chapter and the Negro Motorist Green Book, a guidebook listing places like hotels, restaurants, and gas stations African Americans could safely visit while traveling during the Jim Crow era. You can reserve tickets here.

92Y New and Archived Programming
In celebration of Black History Month, 92Y has released a new YouTube channel featuring both new and archived talks and readings from this past year. Highlights include Roxane Gay and Debbie Millman’s talk with Saeed Jones and Chanel Miller, Why Design Matters, from last October. 92Y’s YouTube playlist of archived talks can be found here. In addition to the new digital content, 92Y is also hosting a number of dance performances and talks.

On February 11 at 7 p.m., 92Y is hosting The LayeRhythm Experiment & Guests, an event that features improv dance, music, and spoken word poetry from the collective dance troupe LayeRhythm. Tickets and more information on the event can be found here.

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