It’s a time to celebrate the instrumental role and incredible achievements of African Americans throughout U.S. history — which are often undervalued and overlooked — as well as acknowledge and help work to overcome the issues and inequalities still plaguing the Black community today.
As former President Barack Obama has said, Black history is inextricability tied to American history itself, with countless individuals changing this country for the better.
NYC is commemorating the month with a number of special events and exhibits, from special concerts to film screenings to pop-up exhibitions. Whether you want to learn more about Black figures in history, honor Black talent and artists, or support local Black-owned businesses and creators, there’s something for everyone!
Check out our 10 ways to celebrate Black History Month in New York City here:
If Soul was your favorite Pixar movie, you don’t want to miss this exhibition at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. The experience first premiered at Disney World itself in EPCOT, and allows visitors to follow Soul’s Joe Gardner on a tour through the rich and surprising history of jazz. You can even view Duke Ellington’s white grand piano in person! Read more here.
*Opening February 11
Where: 58 West 129th St.
Tickets: Admission is donation-based, advanced reservations required.
2. Historic Harlem jazz concert by candlelight at City Winery
This special evening champions the history of Harlem jazz with some of the neighborhood’s best musicians performing masterpieces from the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. The interior of City Winery’s Pier 57 location will be completely aglow flickering candlelight throughout the event, with food and beverages available for purchase.
Where: City Winery, 25 11th Avenue at Hudson River Park
Tickets: $30-45; purchase them here.
3. Black Dolls at the New-York Historical Society
This groundbreaking new exhibit from the New-York Historical Society “immerses visitors in the world of dolls, doll play, and doll making while examining the formation of racial stereotypes and confronting the persistence of racism in American history.” You can view over 200 objects, including 110 handmade dolls, commercially produced 20th-century dolls, textiles, books, games, sewing tools and more.
*Opening February 25
Where: 170 Central Park West
Tickets: $22 for adults, purchase tickets online here.
4. A Salute to Black Achievements in Television at the Paley Center for Media
With a special spotlight on comedy and the 50th anniversary of Sanford and Son, this exhibit from February 5-27 is open to the public for $20 for non-members (free for members). You can watch a curated selection of screenings honoring the late Sidney Poitier and check out tons of original costume displays, from Maya Rudolph’s “Vice President Kamala Harris” pantsuit on Saturday Night Live to “The Williams Family” wardrobe from The Wonder Years.
Where: 25 West 52 Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues
Tickets: $20 for non-members, free for members. Advanced reservations are not required — purchase here
5. The NYC Parks Renaming Project at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park
This gallery within Central Park is currently showcasing city parks and monuments that have been recently renamed to honor the Black experience in NYC, in both photo and written form. Since June 2020, NYC Parks has renamed 28 parks spaces to draw attention to and honor significant Black Americans. It will take place now though February 28, 2022. Find out more here.
Where: 830 5th Ave
Tickets: Admission is free.
6. Afrofuturism at Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is hosting a city-wide festival celebrating Afrofuturism, a practice where “music, visual arts, science fiction, and technology intersect to imagine alternate realities and a liberated future viewed through the lens of Black cultures.” There are countless events taking place February-March. Find them all on their website here.
Where: Various locations across NYC
Tickets: Dependent upon event
7. Black History Month film screenings at the Museum of the Moving Image
The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens has partnered with the Afrikan Poetry Theatre on a series of twelve film screenings and discussions highlighting iconic Black actors Woody Strode, Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte. Find the full schedule on their website here.
Where: 36-01 35th Ave, Astoria
Tickets: Varies, purchase online here.
8. Brooklyn Talks: White Shoes with Nona Faustine at the Brooklyn Museum
This book talk at the Brooklyn Museum features author Nona Faustine as she speaks about her new book White Shoes along with contributors Jessica Lanay, Pamela Sneed and Seph Rodney. White Shoes shares self-portraits taken around New York at former sites of auctions for enslaved people, burial grounds, slave-owning farms and docks where enslaved people were brought in on ships — locations now mostly forgotten nor unacknowledged.
Where: 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY
Tickets: Overall museum admission is $16 for adults. Find out more on their website here.
9. Soul of the City at the Museum of the City of New York
This new concert series at MCNY, “Soul of the City,” will feature various local artists performing acoustic sets in the Museum’s Rotunda and sharing insights into their music process. The kick-off event highlights hip-hop, funk and soul-inspired artist Topaz Jones.
Where: 1220 Fifth Ave., at 103rd St.
Tickets: Register online here.
10. Patronize Black-owned businesses & restaurants throughout the five boroughs
It’s always a good time to support your local Black-owned businesses, but if you needed a reminder, let this month serve as that! Check out our list of 85 Black-owned restaurants & bars across NYC, and other local shops & online businesses to show some love to.