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. And guess what? You can ride SEPTA to each and every one!
The Black Journey: African-American History Walking Tour of Philadelphia
Experience the sights, monuments and stories that make up Philly’s Black history during The Black Journey guided tours. Led by subject matter experts, the two tour options — one of historic Old City and one of the old 7th Ward — guide guests past iconic Philly landmarks, highlight early Philadelphia’s most transformative events and tell the often untold accounts of some of America’s most prominent Black figures. The guided tours run up to two hours and tickets are required. Tours begin at the Independence Visitor's Center. Get there on SEPTA. Ride the Market-Frankford Line to 5th Street or hop Bus Routes 17, 33, 38, 44, 47 or 57.
Legacy Reclaimed: A 7th Ward Tribute Walking Tour
A new art and history exploration, Legacy Reclaimed: A 7th Ward Tribute honors the lives — and lesser-known history — of the 19th-century Black residents of Philadelphia’s old 7th Ward, an important part of the Underground Railroad and Great Migration, and former home to 15,000 Black residents including Octavius V. Catto and W. E. B. Du Bois. As part of the event, a 90-minute guided 7th Ward Tribute Walking Tour takes you to nearly a dozen neighborhood sites, including new art installations and several homes and businesses. Can’t make a guided tour? Grab a self-guided tour map. Tours begin at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Take Route 40 to visit this historic spot.
Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America at The African American Museum in Philadelphia
“Is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy?” Nearly two-dozen artists interpret that question into new artworks in the collaborative exhibition Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America on display at The African American Museum in Philadelphia. Featuring paintings, sculptures, photography, video installations and more, this landmark exhibit explores racial equality, free speech and the modern American experience. Get here on SEPTA. It's a short walk from the 8th Street stop on the Market-Frankford Line or hop Routes 47 or 48.
A Raisin in the Sun at Bristol Riverside Theatre
In 1950s Chicago, a Black family living in the South Side receives a life-changing insurance check — and each member has a different vision for how to use it to pursue the American dream. This critically acclaimed play by Lorraine Hansberry tackles topics like housing discrimination, racism, assimilation and the power of self-determination. Take SEPTA to the show! Hop the Trenton Line to Bristol Station. Get 20% off tickets with this Perk!
Black History Month at the National Constitution Center
For Black History Month, the National Constitution Center features daily self-guided tours, special shows and exhibits highlighting the museum’s vast collection of artifacts, including a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. Don’t miss the return of The Four Harriets of History, a pop-up program exploring the lives of Harriet Tubman, Harriet Robinson Scott, Harriet Jacobs and Harriet Beecher Stowe — four women who fought to overturn slavery in the United States through direct action. General admission tickets are required. Hop the Market-Frankford Line to 5th Street/Independence Hall or Routes 17, 33, 38, 44, 48 or 57.
Black History Month at the Free Library of Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia celebrates Black History Month with free events at libraries throughout the city all month long (no library card needed). Included among the Free Library’s dozens of Black History Month talks, concerts, food programs, film screenings and more. Take Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, or 34 there!
Black History Month Events at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art puts Black History Month on full display! Check out their full list of events here! Get here on SEPTA. Bus Routes 7, 32, 38, 43 & 48 serve the Museum area. Check out this Perk before you go!
Black History Month at The Franklin Institute
Join The Franklin Institute and other local organizations for this Black History Month celebration, exploring the accomplishments of Black scientists and workers in STEM fields. The afternoon also sees performances by Philly African dance and drum ensemble Troupe Da Da. Black History Month events are included with general admission tickets to the Parkway attraction. Leave the driving to SEPTA. Short walk from Suburban Station, hop Bus Routes 7, 33, 38, 48 or Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 34 or 36.
Meet the History Makers and Once Upon a Nation Storytelling at the Betsy Ross House
Explore the historic Betsy Ross House during the family-friendly Meet the History Makers event. Costumed actors recount amazing stories about prominent members of colonial Philadelphia’s free Black community (Saturdays) and Once Upon A Nation Storytellers and share tales of the Black experience in 18th-century Philadelphia (Sundays). Black History Month events at the Betsy Ross House are free to attend. Short walk from 2nd Street Station on the Market-Frankford Line or hop Routes 17, 33 or 48.
Leaders and Legends of Philadelphia at Smith Memorial Playground
Back for its fourth year, Smith Memorial Playground honors the contributions of African American Philadelphians positively impacting our city with this month-long exhibit. This year’s honorees include the iconic DJ Jazzy Jeff, Philadelphia’s first woman mayor the Hon. Cherelle Parker, community champions Caleb Jones and Andre Wright; NBA hall of famer Wilt Chamberlain, and more. So easy to get here on SEPTA Route 3.
50 Years of Hip Hop: Art, Music, Power at the National Liberty Museum
In celebration of 50 years of hip-hop, National Liberty Museum takes a journey through the art, music and influence of hip-hop culture — and how it was shaped by Black history. This day of art-making, music tributes and pop-up talks honors hip-hop’s legacy and culture, and highlights the hip-hop influences present in the museum’s latest multimedia exhibition, Amplified: Art, Music, Power. Tickets are required. Get there on SEPTA! Catch the Market-Franklin Line or take Bus Routes 42, 44, or 48.
The Drunk Black History Show with Gordon Baker-Bone at World Cafe Live
Comedian and MTV writer Gordon Baker-Bone delivers history with a twist during this interactive (and intoxicating) Black history comedy show. The set features tipsy special guests taking to the stage to share wild and hilarious anecdotes about history’s most prominent Black figures. Tickets are required and food and drink are pay as you go. Take Regional Rail to William H. Gray III 30th Street Station, the Market-Frankford Line to Drexel Station at 30th Street, Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 34 & 36 to 30th Street, or Bus Routes 21, 42, or 49.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Academy of Music
Through the lens of modern American dance and the African American cultural experience, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s revolutionary show celebrates artistry and the human spirit. This multi-part program includes Revelations, a renowned performance honoring Black cultural heritage and set to spirituals, song sermons, gospel and holy blues — plus signature classics and new works from esteemed choreographers. Get there on SEPTA. Take Regional Rail to Suburban Station, the Broad Street Line to Walnut-Locust, the Market-Frankford Line to 15th Street, or Routes 4, 9, 12, 21, 27, 32 or 42.