Since Philadelphia’s earliest days, African-American culture has played an influential role in shaping the city’s personality. This February, Philadelphia celebrates that heritage and Black History Month with special events and exhibitions, film screenings and other activities. Some highlights:
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• All month long, The African American Museum in Philadelphia buzzes with activity. Events kick off with a screening and discussion of The Contradictions of Fair Hope. Produced by S. Epatha Merkerson (of Law & Order fame) and Rockell Metcalf, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and accompanied by a Christian McBride score, the award-winning documentary examines the tensions surrounding an Alabama African-American benevolent society and its signature Foot Wash Festival. Feb. 1. Zulu native Godfrey Sithole invites people to Step Into South Africa! with a program that delves into South African languages, music, religions and rites of passage. Feb. 8. Museum guests can get an intimate look at the museum’s current art exhibition, The Unflinching Eye: Works of the Tiberino Family Circle, through gallery tours led by members of the Tiberino family and a mural workshop for children. Feb. 22.
• The Penn Museum hosts the powerful exhibition Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster. Archival military recruitment posters, films and other memorabilia track changing messages on race and the methods used to mobilize people of color in wartime, despite the oppression and injustices they faced in the homeland. Through March 2. www.pennmuseum.org
• At the National Constitution Center, visitors can pick up a special “African-American History Month” brochure outlining daily events and activities and artifacts related to Civil Rights. Highlights include a Decoding the Document workshop that examines the Emancipation Proclamation and the interactive Breaking Barriers show, spotlighting the lives of Thurgood Marshall, Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson and other barrier-breaking African-Americans. In addition, the museum’s main exhibition spotlights important moments in African-American history, such as the Dred Scott Decision; the Brown v. Board of Education case; the March on Washington; the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. All month. www.constitutioncenter.org
• A Barnes Foundation exhibition of sculptural works by British artist Yinka Shobinare summons the artist’s Nigerian heritage. Featuring life-size mannequins dressed in the fabrics and textiles associated with Africa, Yinka Shobinare MBE: Magic Ladders is a dramatic, playful and irreverent examina¬tion of identity, history and politics. Through April 21. www.barnesfoundation.org
Content submitted by Visit Philadelphia