NYC Celebrates Black History Month ~ February 2023




Author Ernest J. Gaines, painting by artist Robert Peterson, to be featured on new stamp commission for Black History Month 2023. Image courtesy the artist and Claire Oliver Gallery.

This year’s theme for Black History Month is “Black Resistance,” and will explore how African-Americans have fought repression from America’s earliest days, from escaping plantations, to the rise out of poverty and struggle for equal housing and education, and voting rights. Here are a few ways to celebrate the month.

Preserving America’s Historic Black Churches

Presented by the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


The National Arts Club Presents ‘Black Architects’ ~ February 8

From Robert Robinson Taylor to Paul R. Williams, Black Architects have contributed significantly to architecture in the nineteenth century in all styles from Beaux Arts ranging through Art Deco and International Style. As minorities they achieved projects both nationally and internationally with great odds against them. King focuses on architects who were born Black in the 19th century and their contribution and achievements in the architectural profession. This is a Free, virtual Event with RSVP.


The Harlem Chamber Players at Schomburg Center ~ February 16

The 15th Annual Black History Month Celebration with The Harlem Chamber Players’ and The Schomburg Center will take place on Thursday, February 16th. This concert is a Free Event with RSVP.


The Blues and its People at The Apollo Theater ~ February 18

The Blues and Its People, is an electrifying evening-length concert featuring critically acclaimed composer and trumpeter Russell Gunn and his Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra that brings to life poet and author Amiri Baraka’s groundbreaking work, Blues People: Negro Music in White America. Special guests include Weedie Braimah, Davell Crawford, Miles Griffith, Craig Harris, Stefon Harris, Jazzmeia Horn, Oliver Lake, jessica care Moore, and Leon Timbo. This exciting one-night-only exploration of jazz, gospel, and blues, commissioned by the Apollo, traverses Baraka’s text through song and readings curated by Fredara Hadley, Ph.D, ethnomusicologist at The Julliard School of Music.


Harlem Fine Arts Show ~ February 24-26

The Harlem Fine Arts Show (HFAS) is the largest traveling African Diasporic art show in the United States. Inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, HFAS provides a platform for African Diasporic artists and American visual artists to exhibit and sell their works. This three-day event serves as an economic platform for the multicultural, general market and arts communities to empower and increase market share in numerous regions throughout the United States. From February 24-26, the Harlem Fine Arts Show will return to New York City to celebrate its 15th Anniversary in a new location ~ The Glasshouse in Chelsea.


ArtBall for AMREF Health Africa ~ February 25

Amref Health Africa presents its annual ArtBall 2023 on February 25th at 7:30pm at 26 Bridge Street in Brooklyn.


Celebrating Black History Month: Jazz, Lindy Hoping the Savoy Ballroom with The Harlem Swing Dance Society at Pelham Fritz Recreation Center ~ February 25

Starting off with a mini dance lesson, the event will continue with an open dance social. This is a Free and Open to the public Event at The Pelham Fritz Center in Harlem. Save the date, March 11th when The Harlem Swing Dance Society will do it all again!


Martin Luther King, Jr. at Standford U on April 14, 1967 ~ a film documentary

Film documents a speech given by Martin Luther King at Stanford University on April 14, 1967 about racism and civil rights in American society. Dr. King contends that there are “two Americas”: one “beautiful” and the “other America, ” which is an “arena of blasted hopes and dreams.” He goes on to explain that “we are seeking to make America one nation.”

View more of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in speech on YouTube.


The James Van Der Zee Archive ~ The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Conversation with Thelma Golden

Join Jeff L. Rosenheim, The Met’s Joyce Frank Menschel Curator in Charge of the Department of Photographs, in dialogue with Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum, on the James Van Der Zee Archive at The Met, a landmark collaborative initiative to research, conserve, and provide full public access to the remarkable catalogue of photographs by James Van Der Zee (1886–1983)


Visit Claire Oliver Gallery and Current Exhibition, Remains by Adebunmi Gbadebo

Jane/Mother of H. Lee/Died Feb 15 1909/ Age 85 yrs/ Gone To Fairer Land/ of Pleasure & Love/ To Join The Bright Band of Angels Above, True Blue Plantation Cemetery soil, human hair from Cheryl Person & Tierra H., wood fired, 2021 10 x 20 in

This exhibition continues the artist’s years-long exploration of her ancestral origins centered on the plantation on which her forbearers were enslaved and currently buried, called True Blue in Fort Motte, South Carolina.  Gbadebo’s interrogation of this lineage through her work encompasses her signature multi-media paper works crafted from indigo, rice paper, cotton, and human hair, and new ceramic works fabricated from the soil in which her enslaved ancestors were buried. These will be displayed alongside historical artifacts salvaged from antebellum architectural fragments from sites built on the labor of her forebears.


Did you know that USPS Issued a New Stamp as Part of its Black Heritage Series

As part of the Black Heritage Series, new stamp honoring author Ernest J. Gaines. Image courtesy the artist and Claire Oliver Gallery.

The 46th stamp in the Black Heritage series for the USPS honors author Ernest J. Gaines (1933-2019). Best known for such novels as ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’ and ‘A Lesson Before Dying‘, Gaines drew from his childhood as the son of sharecroppers on a Louisiana plantation to explore the untold stories of rural African Americans. Artwork by Robert Peterson.


Adding to our Black History Month Art Exhibitions ~ Anthony Amoako-Attah at Heller Gallery

Anthony Amoako-Attah. Photo: Owen Richard

Anthony Attah kilnforms glass plate and powders to make pieces which use the colors and patterns of Kente designs and Adinkra symbols. Through the language of Kente cloth, a Ghanaian textile, traditionally handwoven of strips of silk & cotton, but now mass produced as printed fabric, Attah explores themes of personal and tribal identity, commodification, globalization and migration.


Charles Gaines.Southern Trees at Hauser & Wirth

Portrait of Charles Gaines © Charles Gaines. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen.

The exhibition’s title, ‘Southern Trees,’ alludes directly to the 150-year-old pecan trees pictured in the new works, and symbolically to the opening lyrics of ‘Strange Fruit,’ Billie Holiday’s haunting protest anthem from the 1930s. Charles Gaines.Southern Trees.


Derrick Adams: I Can Show You Better Than I Can Tell You at The Flag Foundation

Derrick Adams. So Much To Celebrate. 2021. Acrylic, paper birthday hats, pompoms on wood panel, 72 x 95 5/8 x 2 inches (200.7 x 242.9 x 5.1 cm). Courtesy the artist and LGDR.

I Can Show You Better Than I Can Tell You, a solo exhibition by Derrick Adams, comprises a cycle of sixteen large-scale works from Adams’s new series Motion Picture Paintings, 2020-22, which extend the artist’s signature deconstructed, cubist-style portraits in a new cinematic direction. Freeze framed moments—drawn from movies, media, and the artist’s imagination—are emblazoned with a variety of graphic texts reminiscent of film titles. “Black life is a movie,” says Adams, “a psychological thriller, situational comedy, romance, adventure drama, suspense, and horror all rolled into one.” Opening at The Flag Art Foundation in Chelsea on January 13th.


Myrlande Constant: Drapo at Fort Gansevoort

Myrlande Constant, Apres Gran Met La Fey Nan Bwa Se Tretmant Yo Viy, 2022,
Beads, sequins and tassels on fabric, 80 x 111.5 inches

Fort Gansevoort presents Drapo, its first solo exhibition with Haitian artist Myrlande Constant, who has attracted international attention for dazzling hand-beaded and sequin-embroidered textile works in which heritage techniques are used to mingle contemporary and traditional themes. The evolution of Constant’s personal aesthetic and mastery of her medium will be evident in monumental new pieces juxtaposed with examples from earlier in the artist’s career.


TAFA: The Echoes of Memories at Pictor Gallery

TAFA, ‘Pele the Greatest’, Acrylic one canvas. Image courtesy of the artist

Pictor Gallery will open its doors to a solo exhibition by West African born, Harlem based artist TAFA entitled The Echoes of Memories.

Well known for his colorful abstract oil & acrylic paintings of musicians, sporting events, marches, and protests, his brush strokes take viewers on a literal moving adventure. Below, ‘Pele the Great’…… His paintings also bring to light social and political issues, such as the featured image on this post (above) Sarah Baartman…


Take a Historic Harlem Walking Tour

Mural ‘Spirit of Harlem’ by artist Louis Del Sarte, Commissioned for the people of Harlem by North Fork Bank, 2005 and restored and dedicated to the Harlem community in 2018. Located on the corner of 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd. in Harlem. Photo credit: AFineLyne

Harlem-based tour company Welcome To Harlem originated in 2004 with tour guides who are born and raised in the neighborhood. Tours range from walking tours through historic neighborhoods to jamming jazz and gospel brunch.

New from Welcome to Harlem, Harlem Roots. Take a Harlem Civil Rights Virtual Tour!

Traverse Harlem, learn its personalities, and play your way through the Harlem Renaissance with Harlem-Opoly, the Board Game.


Shop at Your Favorite Black-Owned Business

NiLu Gift Shop, 191 Malcolm X Blvd, NYC

Support your local Black-owned business. This NYC Guide will give you some wonderful suggestions, and a map of businesses in your area.


Crafting Freedom: The Life and Legacy of Free Black Potter Thomas W. Commeraw at New York Historical Society

Thomas W. commerce, Jug, ca. 1800-1819. New York Historical Society, Purchased from Elie Nadelman, 1937.820.

Crafting Freedom: The Life and Legacy of Free Black Potter Thomas W. Commerawis the first exhibition to bring overdue attention to a skilled craftsman whose racial identity was long overlooked. Born enslaved, Commeraw rose to prominence as a free Black entrepreneur, owning and operating a successful pottery. Over a period of two decades, Commeraw amassed property, engaged in debates over state and national politics, and participated in the life of New York City’s free Black community. The exhibition explores Commeraw’s multi-faceted history—as a craftsman, business owner, family man, and citizen.


Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious at FotografiskaNYC

‘Queen Latifah’, 1990, Photo credit: Jesse Frohman. Courtesy of Fotografiska New York and © of the artist.

Celebrate Black History Month with a visit to the exhibition Hip Hop: conscious, Unconscious during the 50th anniversary of the most powerful cultural movement of a generation.


African American Landmarks & Historic Districts in New York City by NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

nyc Landmarks Preservation Commission site, Before 1865

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) created an interactive story map to celebrate New York City’s African American history through its designated places. Entitled Preserving Significant Places of Black History, it celebrates New York City’s African American history through designated landmarks and historic districts. For five decades LPC has been recognizing, supporting, and celebrating places of African American cultural and historic significance through designation. This story map highlights landmarks and historic districts that illustrate the experiences and achievements of African Americans through interactive maps, narrative text, images, and multimedia content.


Black History in NYC Parks

Sculpture of Frederick Douglass at the FDB Circle on Central Park West and 110th Street.

Learn about parks, sculptures, and other green spaces in New York City that highlight and honor the black experience in the United States.


NYC Landmarks Preservation Launches ‘Seneca Village Unearthed’ Online

1855 Viele Topographic Survey with the added outline of Seneca Village, courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)  launched the site, Seneca Village Unearthed, an online exhibitand collection of artifacts from what was once New York City’s largest community of free African-American landowners. Seneca Village was located in what is now Central Park, a scenic landmark. Through this online exhibit and collection, the general public will for the first time have access to nearly 300 artifacts and get a glimpse of what life was like for Seneca villagers in the mid-19th century.


MTA Arts & Design Celebrates Black History + Culture with its treasure trove of artwork within the MTA System

Artist, Beatrice Lebreton ‘Wisdom Along the Way’, 2017 at Rockaway Avenue

During Black History Month, MTA Arts & Design features its treasure trove of glass, mosaic and metal artworks throughout the MTA system. Above and below ground, passengers will enjoy seeing works by some familiar names from Faith Ringgold, Terry Adkins, and Maren Hassingerto Louis Delsarte, Xenobia Bailey and Derrick Adams + many many more. Above, artwork by artist Beatrice Lebreton, ‘Wisdom Along the Way,’ 2017 at Rockaway Avenue.


Visit The Historic African Burial Ground

The Maerschalck map of the City of New York is a historic map made in 1754 that clearly shows the African Burial Ground and its surrounding neighborhood
Library of Congress

African Burial Ground (managed by the National Park Service) is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. It protects the historic role slavery played in building New York. The Visitors Center is located at 290 Broadway; The outside memorial is located at the intersection of African Burial Ground Way (formerly Elk Street) and Duane Street.


Visit the Oldest African-American Musical Organization in the Country ~ NAMA

Founded in 1904, the New Amsterdam Musical Association (NAMA) is the oldest African-American musical organization in the country. It was founded at a time when the musicians union didn’t admit minority musicians, and the law stated that one had to be in the union in order to perform in New York City!


Did You Know That The Schomburg Center houses the Full Digital Collection of Green Books? 

Covers of The Negro Motorist Green Book published by Victor H. Green: 1940, 1956, and 1962. Public access via the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, New York Public Library

While The Green Book has been very much in the news this year, with The Museum of Arts & Design’s exhibition by artist Derrick Adams entitled Sanctuary and Unpacking the Green Book: Travel and Segregation in Jim Crow America, along with the about-to-be released movie, Green Book, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture houses the full digital collection of Green Books and other similar guides.


Help Preserve one of the Many Stops on the Underground Railroad by Signing the Petition 

13th Street Repretory Company

Did you know that the building located at 50 West 13th Streetwas one of the many stops on the Underground Railroad? Constructed in the late 1700s, it still has the trap door in the basement floor. The building is under threat of being demolished. You can help save the building by adding your name.


Underground Railroad, the Secret History by The Science Channel

Archaeologists and historians use cutting-edge technology to investigate and explore some of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Underground Railroad, a secret network that helped enslaved African Americans escape to freedom.


Celebrate the Preservation of 227 Duffield Street, Brooklyn

227 Duffield Street, Brooklyn via Google Maps 2020

On February 2, 2021, the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission voted to designate 227 Duffield Street (aka Abolitionist Place), Brooklyn, a New York City Landmark, with a vote of 11 in favor and 0 against. The home is a rare surviving 19th Century abolitionists’ home, and a stop on the historic underground railroad.


A nice image via The Art Deco Society