20 ways to celebrate Black History Month 2023 in NYC

February 1, 2023

Photo of the Seneca Village mosaic courtesy of © 6sqft

February is a month dedicated to the celebration of Black culture and achievements in the United States. In New York City, you can commemorate Black History Month with special events and programs at museums, theaters, art galleries, pop-up markets, parks, and more. From listening to the Harlem Chamber Players perform pieces by legendary Black composers to viewing period rooms inspired by homes from Seneca Village at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, here are 20 ways to celebrate Black history throughout February.

Image courtesy of Kolin Mendez

First Saturday: Legacy
Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway
February 4 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Hosted by the Brooklyn Museum for the last 25 years, First Saturdays are free, monthly events that feature a variety of special programming, including live music, talks, and much more. The theme of February’s First Saturday highlights the legacy of Black artists in Brooklyn who have helped shaped the culture of the borough and beyond. The event will feature live music, poetry, dance, and a curator talk, and guests will be able to purchase signature cocktails. Admission to the event is free but advanced registration is required.

Brooklyn Pop-Up
Outside of the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway
February 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The beloved Brooklyn Pop-Up market will be setting up shop in front of the Brooklyn Museum and showcasing Black-owned businesses in honor of Black History Month. Vendors will be offering a wide variety of artisan goods, including handmade clothing, jewelry, art, and more. Brooklyn Pop-Up will be announcing the market’s vendors on its Instagram page.

Image courtesy of Jonathan Blanc

Saturday Afternoon Movie: Black History Month
St. Agnes Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue
Every Saturday in February, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Every Saturday afternoon during the month of February, the New York Public Library’s St. Agnes branch on the Upper West Side is screening movies in honor of Black History Month. Movies featured throughout the month include The Women King, 12 Years a Slave, Selma, and Respect.

Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Strange Fruit: A Black History Collection
Metrograph, 7 Ludlow Street
February 5 through 25
To celebrate Black History Month, the Lower East Side’s independent theater Metrograph is hosting Strange Fruit: A Black History Collection. Curated by Brandon Harris, the movie screening series will span the entire month of February and feature movies that “normally don’t make the Black Exceptionalist highlight reel but should.” Featured movies include Is That Black Enough For You?!?, The Learning Tree, Passing Through, and more. Ticket information can be found here.

Journaling: Reflecting on Black History
Bronx Library Center, 310 East Kingsbridge Road
February 7 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
In celebration of Black History Month, the Bronx Library Center is hosting its monthly journaling session that gives participants prompts that will test their writing skills and inspire creativity. This month’s session will feature prompts and questions that explore the importance of Black history and celebrate Black History Month.

Freedom Narratives
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Celeste Bartos Forum, 476 5th Avenue
February 7 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Hosted by the New York Public Library, acclaimed authors David Wright Faladé and Ilyon Woo will speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage about the inspirations behind her works. The live event will cover the captivating stories of real and dramatic struggles for freedom by enslaved and formerly enslaved people in America in the 1800s, which all three guest speakers have covered extensively in their careers. Admission is free, and you can register for an in-person ticket here. The event will also be streamed live on the NYPL’s website.

“Speak To Me” Black History Month Group Art Exhibition
345 Lenox Avenue
February 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Presented by Cafe Melo Gallery, “Speak To Me” features the work of NYC-based contemporary Black artists Jaleel Campbell, Chanti “Catalyst” Louison, Robert L. Newman III, Taeesha M. (Sophisticatedcookie), and Will Porter Jr. The event will begin with a brief talk with the artists, who will share insight into their work and inspirations. Admission is free, and you can RSVP here.

15th Annual Black History Month Concert
Brooklyn Public Library, Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza
February 12 from 4 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Presented as part of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Classical Interludes series, the Harlem Chamber Players will play a selection of iconic pieces composed by Black composers. The Harlem Chamber Players are made up of Ashley Horne and Claire Chan on violin, William Frampton on viola, and Wayne Smith on cello. The event is free and open to the public. You can RSVP for the free tickets here.

The Brown-Jackson image copyright: Copyright: 2021 Getty Images; Marshall image copyright: Bachrach/Getty Images.

Hands On History: Supreme Black History
King Manor Museum, 150-3 Jamaica Avenue
February 18 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
King Manor is celebrating Black History Month by honoring the first Black Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and the first Black woman to be on the Supreme Court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Guests will be able to design their own gavels and be inspired to pursue a career in the justice system. The event is free and open to the public. You can register here.

Shop Black: A Black History Month Pop-Up Shop
New Women Space, 188 Woodpoint Road
February 18 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Come and browse through a wide selection of goods created by Black artisans. Items include sustainable skincare products, candles, clothing, jewelry, art, and other unique finds. You can also grab a drink or bite to eat and get a tarot card reading.

Black History Month: George Washington Carver’s Contribution to Agriculture
Fairview Park, Parking Lot – Bricktown Way Entrance
February 19 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
To celebrate Black History Month, the NYC Parks is hosting a free educational event that teaches participants about George Washington Carver’s contributions to the field of agricultural science. Guests will also identify and learn about plant species while traveling through Staten Island’s Fairview Park.

Black History Month: Seneca Village
81st Street and Central Park West
February 19 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
This free event hosted by NYC Parks celebrates Black History Month by teaching New Yorkers about the lives of the residents of Seneca Village, a thriving Black community that existed in Manhattan before the construction of Central Park.

Image courtesy of Brandon Todd

AFROPUNK + Lincoln Center: Black HERstory Live
Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall and David Geffen Hall
February 24 and 25 at 5:30 p.m.
AFROPUNK and Lincoln Center are teaming up for a special two-day festival in celebration of Black History Month. The festival will celebrate a Black woman’s journey to find her own voice expressed through music, art, poetry, dance, performance art, and more. Day one of the festival, hosted at Alice Tully Hall, is centered around the theme of agony, with the second day, hosted at David Geffen Hall, centering around the theme of ecstasy.

Feeling Good by Andrew Nichols. Image courtesy of the artist

Harlem Fine Arts Show
The Glasshouse, 660 12th Avenue
February 24 through 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Returning for its 15th year, the Harlem Fine Arts Show hosts over 120 booths of artists from the African Diaspora. The three-day event will serve as a way to showcase Black and progressive artists and draw customers to purchase their one-of-a-kind creations. Tickets can be purchased here.

The Black Version
February 25 at 7 p.m.
Midnight Theatre, 75 Manhattan West Plaza
Hosted at the Art-Deco-inspired Midnight Theatre in Midtown’s Manhattan West development, The Black Version is a completely improvised comedy show that asks the audience prompted questions and transforms them into intricate skits. Tickets are available here.

Sedalia to Harlem: A Celebration of Black History
Church In the Gardens, 50 Ascan Avenue
February 25 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Hosted at a church in the scenic Forest Hills Gardens, this event will guide guests through jazz, opera, and African American spiritual music, “tracing the rich tradition of Black music, art, and culture in America,” according to the event page. Performers include Jay Aubrey Jones, baritone, Geraldine McMillian, soprano, Byron Singleton, tenor, Barbara Podgurski, pianist, and Maestro David Close as host and pianist.

Candlelight: Celebrating Black America – Jazz, Soul, and Blues
The Opera House, 288 Berry Street
February 25 at 6:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Sit back, relax, and take in the soothing sounds of music written by legendary Black artists like Stevie Wonder, Duke Ellington, and John Coltrane in the dimly lit interior of Brooklyn’s The Opera House. Performed by Pure Soul NY, the intimate musical experience will be a night to remember. Tickets can be purchased here.

Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room
The Met, 1000 Fifth Avenue
Through December 31, 2024
This exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art features period rooms inspired by the homes of Seneca Village, a neighborhood that existed in present-day Central Park just a few hundred yards west of the museum. Founded in 1825 by free African American landowners, the village thrived for three decades before it was destroyed in 1857 to make way for the construction of Central Park. Created by Hannah Beachler, known for her work on Black Panther, and Fabiana Weinberg, the exhibit includes a wood-framed 19th-century home that contains work from the Met’s American Wing that is similar to remnants of Seneca Village that were found in 2011.

Cloe’s Corner Black History Month Pop-Up Shop
Every Saturday in February from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
535 Atlantic Avenue
Cloe’s Corner is supporting BIPOC small businesses in celebration of Black History Month. Vendors will offer a wide variety of artisan goods, including handmade jewelry, art, clothing, body and hair products, home goods, treats, and more. There will be free beverages, music, and dancing.

Image courtesy of NYC Parks. Tuwanda Harmon, Busy Women, 2016, Digital Art.

Heritage: Exploring the Past, Present, and Future in Black Art
Arsenal Gallery, 830 Fifth Avenue
Every weekday in February, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hosted by the NYC Parks’ Ebony Society and Art and Antiquities, the exhibition features artwork by NYC Parks’ employees who explored their Black heritage through a variety of media. Included in the exhibition are selections from the Ebony Society’s vintage hip-hop flyer and invitation collection.

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