A List of Philly’s Finest Black History Month Stuff, Volume One


Since January, our inbox at PW has been happily filled with events, totems and vibes geared around and dedicated to the full flower of February’s annual Black History Month. However, rather than attempt to cram everything worthwhile into one space at the top of BHM, I’m going to separate out items currently running until mid-month, then report back about additional Black History Month happenings in Philly and South Jersey.

Camden Repertory Theater’s production of playwright Aishah Rahman’s Unfinished Women Cry In No Man’s Land While A Bird Dies In A Gilded Cage, February 4 through March 25, 2023

In 2005, Camden Rep was founded by educator and theater maker Desi P. Shelton in response to that Jersey city’s need for an artistic outlet and a space to improve the life and literature skills of at-risk children looking for college prep. Since then, Camden Rep has called the heights of Black literature and theater writing for only the most poignant plays, hewing to the rarely-produced and too often under-appreciated. Playwright Aishah Rahman’s Unfinished Women Cry In No Man’s Land While A Bird Dies In A Gilded Cage fits that bill, a tale written by a Harlem-born artist raised in the foster care system and writing about the plight of teenage unwed mothers on the last night of Bop jazz great Charlie Parker’s life. Philly-area director/actor Ozzie Jones stars as Bird, and the entire production is bathed in the sounds of a live jazz ensemble – all held in an intimate Camden row home. A must be-and-see event.

Camden Repertory Theater, 445 Mechanic Street, Camden, NJ

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Behind the Bookcase Tour: Black Writers, the Jazz Age, and the Harlem Renaissance at The Rosenbach, February 5, 2023

Always smartly doneThe Rosenbach’s excursions of its rare books and collection dedicated to the Harlem Renaissance culminates in the Behind the Bookcase tour, where visitors can pour through personal letters and first-edition works from several iconic Black writers such as poet Langston Hughes and philosopher Alain LeRoy Locke.

The Rosenbach, 2008-2010 Delancey Street, Philadelphia, PA

Jazz @ Kimmel Cultural Campus with Gregory Porter (February 16 at the Academy of Music) and David Sánchez (February 18th at the Perelman Theater), 2023

The expanded stretch of downtown Philadelphia’s Kimmel Cultural Campus along Broad Street gets a double dose of sleek, chic, 21st Century soul-jazz with warmly embraceable vocalist Gregory Porter (the Donny Hathaway of our generation) and SFJazz Collective member/solo saxophonist David Sánchez doing his explorations of “the kinship between the West Africa drum rhythms of Yuba, Calinda, and Sika and music in Haiti, Carriacou, and his native Puerto Rico.”
The Academy of Music, 240 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA

The Perelman Theater, 300 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA

Black History Month Civic Heroes Trolley Tour, February 5, 2023

I grew up riding the ‘36’ trolley from Southwest Philadelphia into Center City and all parts northward, so I get the glory of old school Septa transport. Kids may not, who knows? That said, Philly’s Mural Arts will host two special trolley tours for BHM’s first weekend, repping the area’s civic minders, heroes of Black consciousness, art, sports and politics, all while highlighting current, lasting social justice issues. So, it’s good for you. Departing from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), at the Lenfest Plaza Paint Torch Sculpture, the first trolley tour takes place this Saturday. Feb. 5, from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Pennsylvania

Academy of the Fine Arts, 28 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA

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The African American Museum in Philadelphia’s Vision & Spirit: African American Art exhibition, now through February 19 and special event with Dr. Bernice A. King,  February 26, 2023

The African American Museum in Philadelphia, the first institution built by a major U.S. city to exhibit and interpret the history, heritage and culture of African Americans always has its Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776 – 1876 exhibition on display, an interactive work where Black freedom icons such as Richard Allen and Octavius Catto come alive. Also, the AAMP is hosting the Vision & Spirit: African American Art exhibition of 100 works from 48 artists portraying what it is to remain strong against all opposing forces. After that, the AAMP welcomes Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King, Jr., to speak at the Mother Bethel A.M.E Church, and celebrating the theme of “The Beloved Community.”

Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, 419 S. 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA

The African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA

Opera Philadelphia presents Carmina Burana + Credo at the Academy of Music, February 3 through 5, 2023

When this city’s most experimental classical music and vocal company, Opera Philadelphia, tackles German composer Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in concert with Black composer Margaret Bonds’ Credo on February 3 and 5 at the Academy of Music, the opera company’s Chorus will become this show’s centerpiece in consideration of composer Bonds’ stately, spiritual Credo and its featuring of text from Black educational avatar W.E.B. Du Bois.

The Academy of Music, 240 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA

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DRUMLine Live at the Miller Theater, February 17, 2023

The creative team behind the Drumline movie franchise portrays the experience of Historically Black College and University marching bands up close and personal. And loud.

The Miller Theater, 250 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA

    • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

      A.D. Amorosi is an award-winning journalist who, along with working for the Philadelphia Weekly, writes regularly for Variety, Jazz Times, Flood and Wax Poetics, and hosts and co-produces his own SoundCloud-charting radio show, Theater in the Round for Pacifica National Public Radio station WPPM 106.5 FM and WPPM.org.

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