13 Things to Do During Black History Month in NYC

Events, activities and more

black history month nyc a photo of a man playing an instrument at juilliard
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Black History Month is a time to celebrate, learn and support the Black community. While you shouldn't limit this only to February, this month can give you an opportunity to see what the city has to offer in uplifting and supporting Black New Yorkers. Whether you're interested in live performances, family-friendly activities or delicious cuisine, we compiled a few cool events and activities to check out for the entire month. Ahead are 13 things to do during Black History Month in NYC.

20 Things (Big & Small) You Can Do to Support Black History Month

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1. Attend a Broadway Show

Broadway is currently host to some amazing Black stories and Black-led productions. Check out new shows like Jelly’s Last Jam, a musical all about jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton starring Billy Porter (Pose) and Joaquina Kalukango (Paradise Square). Or finally get tickets to see Tony-nominated MJ the Musical and jam out to classic hits from the King of Pop. 

black history month nyc apollo theater
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2. Go on a Walking Tour of Harlem

On February 17, retrace the steps of W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr., and more icons through the historical landmarks of Harlem. The Big Onion hosts a walking tour known as the Historic Harlem: Celebrating Black History Month. Learn about the Harlem Renaissance and how the upper Manhattan enclave became the "Capital of Black America." The walk lasts for two hours, where you'll stop at places like The Apollo Theater, The Schomburg Center and Striver's Row.

black history month nyc amateur night at the apollo theater filled with a packed crowd
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3. Check Out a Show at the Apollo

This historical landmark has been one of the city’s leading entertainment destinations for over four decades and is hosting a variety of events in February and beyond that celebrate Black performers. Are you a music fan? Four-time Grammy nominee Stefon Harris will show off improvised jazz through technology, poetry and stunning visual elements on February 18. There’s also the theater's classic series—Amateur Night at the Apollo—that’s returning on February 21 with a new line of performers. Luther Vandross, Lauryn Hill and H.E.R. are some of the many legends who've previously performed in the famous talent show, so get your tickets now to see the next big star hit the stage.

4. Explore Special Art Exhibits

The New York Historical Society currently has a special exhibit called “Running for Civil Rights: The New York Pioneer Club,” where you can learn all about the legacies of runner Ted Corbitt and civil rights activist Joseph Yancey. The exhibition explores race, running and community through photographs, prints and artifacts. It opened in October and will be available until February 25.

Also on February 25, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is presenting a new exhibit, “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism,” which offers a look into modern life in emerging Black cities during the 1920s through the 1940s featuring paintings, sculptures and photography of the era. And if you’re looking for even more art, power couple and big time musicians Alica Keys and Swizz Beatz are currently showing off their impressive collection at the Brooklyn Museum until July 7. 

black history month nyc a photo of a man playing an instrument at juilliard
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5. Celebrate Black Music at Juilliard

Hosted by opera singer Denyce Graves on February 27, the “Claiming Your Space: A Celebration of Black Music” performance will honor the 90th anniversary of a 1934 concert that was curated by Black artists and composers of the time. The one-night event will also feature new works from current Juilliard students. Attendees will have a chance to check out a special exhibit showcasing photographs and programs of Black artists and activists that went to Julliard such as Danielle Brooks, John Lewis and Alvin Alley. 

black history month nyc a photo of octavia butler
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6. Learn About Inspiring Past and Present Black Women

The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation is hosting a variety of activities and events this month honoring Black women. On February 18, join a storytelling hike and fireside chat happening at Van Cortlandt Park in The Bronx. You’ll walk along the trails and learn more about the science fiction writer Octavia Butler. Or head over to St. Nicholas Park in Harlem to learn more about the revolutionary Black women who’ve contributed to the community on February 25. 

7. Educate Yourself on the Intersection of Black History and Immigration

The Tenement Museum has launched a new permanent exhibit, “A Union of Hope: 1869,” which highlights Black history during and after the Civil War. The space will immerse visitors into the world of Joseph and Rachel Moore and give us a glimpse into Black New Yorkers in the 19th century. The fifth floor of the historic building will host a recreated apartment with over 200 never-before-seen artifacts. 

black history month nyc new york public library
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8. Join a New York Public Library Event

The New York Public Library is offering a plethora of Black History Month activities. Attend a storytime with your kiddo, a virtual discussion discussing the impact of comic superhero Static Shock or a talk on why Black authors matter. There’s also an in-person presentation about An Island in Bloomingdales: Life in the Old Community, which will discuss the life of Black New Yorkers who moved to the Upper West Side during the 20th century. Plus, a few libraries across the five boroughs are hosting movie screenings. Check out films likeI Am Not Your Negro, Southside with You and The Color Purple, to name a few. (Note: Check the NYPL website to find out your local library movie showings and in-person book discussions.)

9. Support Local Black-Owned Businesses

The city is buzzing with Black-owned businesses, so explore the five boroughs for clothes, home decor and more. Don't know where to start? On February 24, there’s going to be an all-day pop-up celebration at the Flatbush Central Caribbean Marketplace in Brooklyn filled with presentations, music, food and vendors. And don’t miss the brick-and-mortar market BLK MKT Vintage, where they host a vast collection of art, decor, literature and more created by Black artists.

black history month nyc the lit bar
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10. Visit Black-Owned Bookstores

If you’re a bookworm, there are seven bookstores you have to check out in NYC. Head over to The Lit. Bar, a wine bar and bookstore located in the Bronx (which FYI is the only indie bookstore in the entire borough). Or you can head over to Cafe Con Libros located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn where you can grab a book and delicious coffee. There’s also The Free Black Women’s Library, where you can peruse over 5,000 books written by Black women and non-binary writers. 

black history month nyc brooklyn childrens museum
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11. Have Fun at the Black Future Festival

The Brooklyn Children's Museum is hosting its annual Black Future Festival. The all-day event celebrates and highlights the African Diaspora and Black History Month as a whole. The entire family can enjoy hours of storytelling, workshops, performances and more. It'll run from February 18 to February 25.

12. Grab a Bite at a Black-Owned Restaurant

What better way to celebrate Black History Month than by checking out a Black-owned restaurant? NYC is home to so many delicious delicacies. To find the best of the best, one PureWow editor compiled the top 26 restaurants in the Big Apple to try. A few favorites include Brown Butter, Lolo's Seafood Shack and Bunna Cafe.

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13. Watch a Movie at AMC Theaters

In honor of Black History Month, AMC Theaters is offering $5 tickets to four movies that celebrate Black stories, characters and filmmakers. In nine- selected theaters across NYC, you can check out The Color Purple, The Equalizer 3, Spider-Man Across The Spider-Verse and Soul all month long. 

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Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...