How 7 Places Around the U.S. Are Celebrating Black History Month This Year

Celebrations are taking place across the nation — from Philadelphia to Santa Monica.

Black drumline group, the leader and two drummers in yellow and blue uniforms on white backdrop

Courtesy of Kimmel Cultural Campus

Since 1976, the month of February has been a time for Americans to recognize the central role Black people have played in U.S. history. Officially designated Black History Month, the month of February is a time to honor, recognize, and celebrate Black history — a history that has been foundational to the growth of the U.S. economy and infrastructure and has played a vital role in American culture.

To that end, it is crucial to recognize the people who made the U.S. what it is today. And while the work and culture of Black Americans are something to recognize daily, the celebration of Black achievements reaches new heights in the month of February when several U.S. cities go all out to honor and celebrate Black History Month.

From small towns to major cities, we hope these celebrations inspire you to celebrate Black History Month at home or in a new destination.

San Antonio, Texas

People in front of home in San Antonio's East Side neighborhood on a Black Heritage Bus Tour

Courtesy of Melaneyes Media

The University of Texas at San Antonio goes all out for Black History Month, kicking off a month of activities, events, and celebrations on Feb. 1. From there, the events are ongoing. There’s a talk with Dr. Gregory Hudspeth, the president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and activities like a discounted Spurs game and an Afrobeats barre workout class.

Off campus, there will be a Black History Bus Tour through San Antonio’s East Side neighborhood on Feb. 11. The bus tour travels to some of San Antonio's most historic African American landmarks and locations including Ellis Alley, the first African American settlement in San Antonio after the emancipation, and Ella Austin Orphanage, which grew out of the home of Ella and Edward Austin and made a huge impact on the San Antonio community.

Once the month of February comes to an end, the Black History Film Series at the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum (SAAACAM) kicks off. The monthly series occurs on the third Thursday of the month starting in March and closing in November 2023.

Wilberforce, Ohio

There’s plenty going on in the larger Ohio cities of Cincinnati and Columbus, but the offerings in the small, historic community of Wilberforce (20 minutes east of Dayton) caught our eye. Highlights include a daily exhibit at the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center that explores Black history in comic books. The exhibit, which is titled, “Behind the Mask: Black Power in Comics,” brings to light the historical representation of Black people in comics and the rise of Black comic creators.

Throughout the month, you can also walk through the cultural center’s juried art show, which bears the theme of “Black Love.” The art show award ceremony is on Feb. 25.

Another notable daily exhibit at the cultural center is “Queens of the Heartland,” which outlines the work of 30 Black women who worked tirelessly toward social change since the 1800s. The exhibit also features portrait illustrations by New York artist Nichole Washington.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is a Black History Month hotspot, especially for those interested in the arts. This year, the Kimmel Cultural Campus and Philadelphia Orchestra are offering a lineup designed to honor the contributions of Black artists in opera, theater, jazz, and dance. Highlights include a revisiting of William Dawson’s “Negro Folk Symphony” by the Philadelphia Orchestra on Feb. 2 and 3, and the live filming of Wanda Sykes’ new Netflix comedy special on Feb. 3 and 4. 

DRUMLine Live, which showcases the high-stepping style of historically Black college and university marching bands, is back this year after a standout performance in 2022. This Kimmel Cultural Campus event is part of a fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund in Pennsylvania.

Off the Kimmel Cultural Campus, the excitement continues with Grace Dance Theater's 11th Annual Black History Celebration, where the area's most talented dance companies and ensembles showcase their routines, and the moving “Forgotten Histories: The Original Brown and Copper-Colored People of the United States” presentation at the Parkway Central Library.

Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica beach

Adrian Rudd/Travel + Leisure

Under the theme of Black Resistance, the Santa Monica Black History Month Committee kicked things off early with events in January 2023. Black History Month officially kicks off with a celebration on Feb. 1 that includes food trucks and dancing to beats spun by DJ Ron.

Throughout the month, you can catch special Black History Month exhibits at the Santa Monica City Hall and city libraries, and on Feb. 2, there will be an a cappella performance by members of the Calvary Baptist Church of Santa Monica, followed by a free violin concert and a documentary film screening. Two book discussions — one with author Catherine Adel West — take place in the latter half of the month.

Denver, Colorado

Art patrons view painting in Dirty South Exhibit at Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Colorado

Glenn Ross

Black History Month in Denver is not a one-month affair. The events start in January and continue through July with the Colorado Black Arts Festival. The February festivities include two concerts that showcase the music of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color on Grant Street (Feb. 3) and Alameda (Feb. 4). 

The following day marks the closing of the exhibit “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse” at the Museum of Contemporary Art. This must-see exhibition explores the tradition and legacy of Black culture in the South and how it has shaped visual art and musical expression over the last 100 years.

On Feb. 25, the Denver-based musical group Same Cloth takes to the stage for two consecutive performances. The group, which is led by keyboardist Solomon J. Chapman Sr. and vocalist JoFoKe, takes you on a musical journey that features both original music and covers. 

New York, New York

As you might expect from the nation’s largest city, New York City goes all out for Black History Month. Some of the city’s standout offerings include an art exhibition by multimedia artist Demarcus McGaughey titled “Kindred.” The exhibit, which kicks off with a reception on Feb. 4, honors Black American ancestry and its role beyond enslavement.

On Feb. 19, the city hosts the African Popup Festival, which features food, culture, and community at Hudson Station, and on Feb. 22, the Harlem Chamber Players will present their 14th Annual Black History Month Celebration.

Ongoing events include programming at the New York Public Library (including some events hosted with the co-founder of Black Lives Matter), and special exhibitions and collections at the Museum of the City of New York.

Delray Beach, Florida

Exterior view of Spady Cultural Arts Museum in Delray Beach, Florida.

Courtesy of Spady Cultural Heritage Museum

The state of Florida has a lot planned for Black History Month, but the small city of Delray Beach has some of the state’s most exciting offerings. Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, which is dedicated to showcasing the contributions of African and Caribbean Americans, is at the center of the action. 

The museum offers tours of Delray Beach, including a walking tour that takes visitors to the first Black school, church, and hotel, and shares the stories of the early Black settlers in the area. The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum is also hosting the second annual Black History Youth Awareness Art Festival on Feb. 17. The festival welcomes art and performance submissions and is all about engaging the youth of Palm Beach County through art, music, and Black history.

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