Philadelphia has long been known as an important center for African American history and culture. This was true in the 18th century when Philadelphia had the largest free black population and was the center of the abolitionist movement, and it holds true today. The following are destinations that offer a look into the Philadelphia story that began centuries ago:
Come explore the first museum built by a major city to preserve, interpret, and exhibit the heritage of African Americans. The core exhibit, Audacious Freedom, highlights the contributions of African Americans in Philadelphia from 1776 - 1876. The four exhibition galleries keep history alive. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 47, 48 or 61. The Museum is also a short walk from 8th Street Station on the Market-Frankford Line and Broad Street Line (spur). Plan your trip here.
The National Constitution Center hosts a celebration of African-American history during Black History Month. Explore the Museum’s The Story of We the People exhibit to discover key milestones in African-American history. During daily interactive programs, visitors can learn about the lives of African-American leaders, the history behind the Emancipation Proclamation, and more. Flash your SEPTA Pass for $2 off admission with this Pass Perk. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 17, 33, 38, 44, 47, 48, 57 or ride the Market-Frankford Line to 5th Street/Independence Hall Station. Plan your trip here.
The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent's Collection contains approximately 600 artifacts relating to black history in the city. These items, each with their own story, are part of a broader narrative about the historical African American experience in Philadelphia. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 9, 17, 21, 33, 38, 42, 44, 47, 61, 62, or hop the Market-Frankford Line or Broad Street Line (spur) to 8th Street Station. Plan your trip here.
Founded by Richard E. Allen, a freed slave, the Church is home to the Richard Allen Museum, overflowing with historical documents and artifacts. Mother Bethel AME was also a stop on the Underground Railroad, foundation for the second Prince Hall Masonic Temple, and home of the first African-American Boy Scout Troop. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 12, 40, or 47. Plan your trip here.
There are a number of Public Libraries celebrating Black History Month. This year's events include a cooking workshop featuring ingredients that are deep-rooted in African heritage, a dance workshop and a folk art exhibition. To find the list of events click here. To get there on SEPTA, plan your trip here.
The society contains numerous documents relating to African American history and the anti-slavery movement. It also houses several documents by William Still, one of the most successful African Americans in Philadelphia's history and author of The Underground Railroad. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 4, 12, 27, 32, or ride the Broad Street Line to Walnut-Locust Station. Plan your trip here.
In the 19th century, the Johnson House served as a stop on the Underground Railroad and a meeting place for abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman and William Still. Located in Chestnut Hill, this house is one of the only Underground Railroad sites in the region with an interpretive program open to the public. To get there, hop SEPTA's Route 23. Plan your trip here.
Two talented dance troupes known for their celebration of traditional African-American dance take the stage during Black History Month. The events kick off on February 3 and 4 when the Alvin Ailey American Dancer Theater fills the Merriam Theater for a show of African-inspired modern dance. Even better, you can get discounted tickets to the show with this Pass Perk. On Wednesday, February 8, PHILADANCO presents The Great Mix, Jazz and Dance, a free event intended for school groups. Another free event fills the stage on Wednesday, February 15 as the recurring Sittin' In jam session hits the theater. During this special edition of Sittin' In, guests can groove to Big Band tunes and hear from music experts as they speak about the history of the jam session in African-American culture. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 4, 12, 27, 32, or take the Broad Street Line to Walnut-Locust Station. Plan your trip here.
Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731, the Library Company of Philadelphia is the nation's first cultural institution providing thorough collections of rare books, manuscripts and prints. The Library Company has one of the most comprehensive collections by and about African Americans which pre-dates the Civil War. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 4,12, 27, 32, or ride the Broad Street Line to Walnut-Locust Station. Plan your trip here.
The first residence purchased by Marian Anderson in 1924 is filled with memorabilia and rare photos of the singer. Celebrate Marian Anderson's 120th Birthday the opening of the new exhibition 'Marian & the People' on Saturday, 2/25. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 17. Plan your trip here.
Robeson's former home is now a museum where his sheet music, period furnishings, and photographs are displayed. Tours are by appointment only. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 21, 42 or 52. Plan your trip here.
Founded in 1884, the Tribune is America's oldest and Greater Philadelphia's largest newspaper serving the African American community. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 2, 4, 27, 32, 40, or ride the Broad Street Line to Lombard-South Station. Plan your trip here.
In the 1790s, at the President's House location at Sixth and Market Streets, Presidents George Washington and John Adams lived and conducted their executive branch business. Washington brought some of his enslaved Africans to this site and they lived and toiled with other members of his household during the years that our first president was guiding the experimental development of the young nation toward modern, republican government. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 17, 21, 42, 33, 38, 44, 48, or ride the Market-Frankford Line to 5th Street/Independence Hall Station. Plan your trip here.
Throughout Black History Month, the Penn Museum presents everything from an African Culture Day on February 25 to a Nigerian mask-making workshop on February 12. Black History Month is also the perfect time to peruse the museum’s extensive African collection, which is one of the largest in the United States. Flash your SEPTA Pass for $2 off admission with this Pass Perk. To get there, hop SEPTA Route 30, 40, 42 or take Regional Rail to University City Station. Plan your trip here.
What did we miss? Where do you plan on going to celebrate? Will you be riding SEPTA? Comment below! Don't forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all month long for updates and tips on your favorite Philadelphia spots and the easiest ways to get there!