It’s always wonderful to celebrate in February the tradition of Black History Month—an observance of the history of the African diaspora and a time to celebrate, recognize and reflect upon the history and accomplishments of African Americans. Black History Month was originally formed by historian Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week in 1926, with the goal to educate the American people about African Americans’ history, cultural backgrounds and achievements. Every year Harlem has a number of exciting and educational events, activities and happenings in honor of Black History Month and we hope you’ll be able to stop by and check out a few of the following great events!

Mahalia Jackson 218x300 Celebrating Black History Month in HarlemEchoes of our Ancestors African American History & Song- A Film and Lecture Series: In Honor of Black History Month

When: February 7, 2012 – February 28, 2012 at 7:00pm

Where: The Joseph P. Kennedy Center (34 West 135th Street)

The Harlem Art Alliance is honoring Black History Month by showing a series of outstanding documentaries depicting the lives of four different African American who have made major contributions to history and society. Each documentary is presented individually, with an introduction at 6:30pm and viewing at 7:00pm. The first documentary, screened on February 7, was “Rejoice and Shout,” which features an exuberant experience of gospel music through the ages, with commentary by Mavis Staples, Andre Crouch, Smokey Robinson, and more. The following three films are listed below and each cost $15 to attend. For more information please visit the Harlem Art Alliance website, here.

February 14: “Sacred Journey” – Musical Director Dr. Paul Kwami takes The Fisk Jubilee Singers to his native country ofGhana.

February 21:Mahalia: Give God the Glory“- Song after great song performed by Mahalia Jackson, “The World’s Greatest Gospel Singer,” during an incredible European tour.

February 28:On the Shoulders of Giants: the Greatest Basketball Team You Never Heard of” (2011) – An amazing documentary of a Harlem Renaissance basketball team that achieved greatness playing at the Renaissance Ballroom.

Harlem Opera Theater 200x300 Celebrating Black History Month in HarlemHarlem Opera Theatre Black History Month and 10th Anniversary Concert

When: Thursday, February 16 at 7:30pm

Where: The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Blvd at135th Street)

This Thursday, the Harlem Opera Theatre will be celebrating Black History Month by featuring performances and excerpts of several great operas written for voices of African descent. Some of these operas will include: Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin, Treemonisha by Scott Joplin, Lost in the Stars by Kurt Weill and Queenie Pie by Duke Ellington. Each performance will be sung by classically trained opera singers and winners from Harlem Opera Theatre’s past vocal competitions. This performance is also a prelude to their international tour! Tickets for the pre-reception and concert are $40; tickets for the concert only are $25. Please visit their website here for more information and to purchase tickets.

Swing Dancing Celebrating Black History Month in HarlemSwing Dancing at the Morris Jumel Mansion

When: Tuesday, February 21 and Saturday, February 25

  • Tuesday, February 21, 2012 @ 11:00am
  • Tuesday, February 21, 2012 @ 3:00pm
  • Saturday, February 25, 2012 @ 1:00pm

Where: Morris-JumelMansion(65 Jumel Terrace)

Come join Jonathon Gill, the author of the book, Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America, as he discusses the history and style of swing dancing and its interesting development in Harlem over time. The lessons are free and also come with a tour of the museum and light refreshments. Registration is required, so please visit http://www.morrisjumel.org/ for further details on how to sign up.

4th Annual Black History Month Celebrating Black History Month in Harlem4th Annual Black History Month Celebration

When: Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 3:00pm

Where: St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (521 West 126th Street)

For a great night of classical music, look no further than the Harlem Chamber Players at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in a performance dedicated to celebrating African American musicians. Programs of the night include Daniel Bernard Roumain String Quartet No. 2 “King” (2nd movement), with spoken word by Lindsey Wilson, as well as Dvořák Serenade in D Minor, Op. 44 for 10 Winds, Cello and Double Bass. The event will be hosted by Terrance McKnight, the weekend evening host of Classical 105.9 WQXR. General admission tickets are $15 and $10 for senior citizens and students. For more information please visit the website here.

We hope everyone has a chance to enjoy these terrific events!  Let us know if there are others we should add to the roster…