Diversity & Inclusion

Celebrate Black History Month virtually with these 8 Philly events

From conversations about generational wealth to a doc screening about AI and race, check out these events from local institutions. Plus, a handful of tech and entrepreneurship events to tune into this February.

City Hall's Octavius V. Catto Memorial to the 19th-century civil rights leader. (Photo by E. Frizzelle for Visit Philadelphia)

Events Roundup is a Technical.ly column where we highlight events happening in the Philly area each month. Got a submission? Email us the details so we can consider it for our next roundup: philly@technical.ly.

As the country recognizes Black History Month in February, we’re counting ourselves lucky to be Philadelphians.

In any given year, this city offers us a range of rich resources, museums, historical figures and events to learn more about and celebrate the achievements Black people have made in and for this country. Each year since Carter G. Woodson established Negro History Week in 1926, the month has held a theme — not to limit the exploration of the Black experience, but to bring to the public’s attention to important developments that merit emphasis.

And in 2021, Black History Month focuses on The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity, and will explore the African Diaspora and the spread of Black families across the country. While this year offers limited in-person celebrations and events, we’ve collected virtual celebrations, conversations, art exhibits and screenings hosted by Philly orgs this month.

You’ll also spot a few tech and workforce-specific events happening this month rounded up at the bottom of this article.

Black History Month at the Kimmel Center

The Kimmel Center is offering a variety of digital events for Black History Month in February. This includes ballet performance “Strange Fruit,” which gives audiences a glimpse into the unchanged landscape of the cycle of sanctioned violence on Black/brown bodies in America; jazz performance “The Music of Nina Simone“; and “Hip Hop Fundamentals,” an interactive virtual performance. The Kimmel is also offering Jazz4Freedom, which is streaming free for teachers through February and teaches about the Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Movement and modern-day heroes, as an alternative to an in-person field trip that might usually be taken during Black History Month.

Coded Bias Screening & Filmmaker Discussion

The African American Museum in Philadelphia is hosting this virtual talk about the film “Coded Bias,” which examines two questions about facial recognition software and race: “What is the impact of artificial intelligence’s increasing role in governing our liberties?” and “What are the consequences for people stuck in the crosshairs due to their race, color, and gender?” This event will feature a screening of the documentary and a discussion between director Shalini Kantayya and Philly-based cultural curator Stephanie Renee.

Black Wealth Tour: Millennials & Generational Wealth

This conversation hosted, by Register of Wills Tracey Gordon, features a panel of millennial Philadelphians on what generational wealth means to them. The event is part of an “Economic Empowerment” series to educate the residents about the resources they need to obtain, protect and preserve generational wealth. Panelists include Rep. Rick Krajewski, Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Councilmember Isaiah Thomas and Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.

Black Generational Wealth: Where the Real Money Resides 

Along a similar theme: Building generational wealth is a goal for many Black community members, and while systemic inequities have not made it easy, this event wants to show that it’s possible. Community leaders discuss how financial planning, building financial literacy, investing and pooling resources can help Black community members gain an advantage in planting the seeds for generational wealth. The Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement and Mayor’s Office of African American Males collaborated for this workshop.

What Does the Black Church Mean to You: Past, Present and Future

WHYY and host Thomas Allen presents this look at how the church has become a vital part of the lives of congregants, church leaders and community members. Allen dives into this topic through stories and photos, and the special features interviews with Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, Cornel West, Bishop Michael Curry, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Bebe Winans and more.

Facing Change: Anti-Racism

Radio producer Loraine Ballard Morrill leads this virtual Barnes Foundation panel featuring writer Vanessa Julye, musician Doug Hirlinger and poet Nina “Lyrispect” Ball as they use anti-racism as a way of countering racism and the systemic oppression of marginalized people. Audience members are encouraged to read Julye’s writing on anti-racism in Friends Journal before the panel.

Black Generational Wealth: Bouncing Back from COVID-19

The Black community in Philadelphia has been negatively affected by the pandemic and recovery will take special steps to recovery. The Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement and Mayor’s Office of African American males also assembled this seminar on economic rejuvenation, and City and community leaders will discuss how stimulus checks, tax returns, unemployment compensation and other resources can help community members bounce back from the pandemic and succeed.

Jessica Vaughn: Our Primary Focus Is to Be Successful

In this new Institute of Contemporary Art exhibition, visual artist Jessica Vaughn considers how late 20th and early 21st century workplace culture and architecture have contributed to the marginalization of workers. Vaughn reimagines workplace objects like employee training videos and career exploration tools as a way to examine the way affirmative action has shaped the way we view workplace culture today. This exhibit opens late this month and will run through May.

  • Friday, Feb. 26, through Sunday, May 9
  • Admission to the ICA is free


Plus, check out these tech and entrepreneurship events this month:

Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: African American Museum in Philadelphia / Kimmel Center / WHYY

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