Celebrating Black History Month 2022

Cement frieze of four dancers in an Art Deco style
Detail of “Exodus and Dance,” (1933, installed 1941) a frieze by Harlem Renaissance sculptor Reginald Barthé at the Kingsborough Houses. Photo: OHNY

Black history is American history and Black history is New York City history. February has been a time to honor and celebrate the many achievements of African-Americans since historian and educator Carter G. Woodson established what was then called Negro History Week in 1926. The Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, founded by Woodson, selects a theme each year to focus Black History Month celebrations. 2022’s theme is Black Health and Wellness, encompassing the legacy of healing traditions throughout the African diaspora, the Black scholars who made significant advances in medical knowledge and organizations who established hospitals to care for their communities, and raising awareness of the discrimination and disparate outcomes experienced by far too many Black patients.

We encourage everyone to take part in some of the special tours, talks, exhibits, and performances scheduled throughout the city during Black History Month 2022 – we’ve listed some highlights below – and to take advantage of New York City’s many historical sites and cultural institutions to continue learning about Black history all year.

In February 2022:

  • The NYC Black History 50 Run takes place on February 12: a 50-mile, 5 borough journey to key Black historical sites, some of which will hold special interactive programs. Join a guided group or run at your own pace and preferred distance following the route map.
  • OHNY Weekend Partner Weeksville Heritage Center hosts the exhibition Our Story, curated by the Fulton Art Fair, through February 19. Our Story features art celebrating the individuals who lived in and maintained the history of Weeksville, a free Black community in Brooklyn in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Reservations are required to tour the historic Hunterfly Houses at Weeksville, but the exhibition can be viewed any time during the Center’s open hours.
  • New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has an extensive calendar of Black History Month programming in all five boroughs, including an exhibit on the Parks Re-Naming Project honoring Black leaders at the Arsenal and walking tours of Seneca Village and Flushing Freedom Mile led by the Urban Park Rangers.
  • The Queens Public Library embraces the full breadth of the Black Health and Wellness theme with family-friendly grab-and-go craft projects and virtual programs on vegan soul food, mental health and meditation, the beauty of Black hair, and health insurance access, among many others.
  • In addition to an excellent list of Black History Month reading recommendations for all ages and genres, NYPL’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture commemorates a decade of its annual Black Comic Book Festival with the exhibition Boundless: 10 Years of Seeding Black Comic Futures. Archival items, video interviews, and comics reading stations provide a look at the long history of Black comic creators from the Golden Age to now.
  • Beginning February 23, African/American: Making the Nation’s Table will be on view at the Africa Center. Presented in partnership with the Museum of Food and Drink, this ambitious exhibition covers 400 years of African influence on American agriculture, foodways, and commerce. The exhibit includes the Legacy Quilt, a collaborative fiber art depiction of African-American culinary traditions, and the Ebony magazine test kitchen, the iconic backdrop for its column “A Date With A Dish,” both displayed to the public for the first time.
  • The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, in partnership with the Classical Theatre of Harlem, present a new lecture series in February and March, Talking About Race Matters: Join the Conversation. This series provides a forum for discussing difficult but necessary questions about the arts and cultural organizations as a mechanism for increasing social justice and crafting programs that successfully do so.

All Year Long:

  • The Tenement Museum offers both a virtual and in-person neighborhood tour of the Black and African communities of the Lower East Side, Reclaiming Black Spaces, providing a crucial re-examination and expansion of the Tenement Museum’s mission.
  • Historical materials exploring the legacy of enslaved Africans in building and working on the Van Cortlandt estate are available online to guide visitors through Van Cortlandt Park and provide a new lens through which to view the historic house museum and its surroundings.
  • The African Burial Ground National Monument offers tours by National Park Rangers as well as online resources on the history of what was the largest colonial-era cemetery for people of African descent and the role of slavery in building New York City. 
  • See the home of prolific Black inventor and scientist Lewis H. Latimer and celebrate his life at the Lewis Latimer House Museum.
  • The home of jazz great Louis Armstrong has also reopened for small group tours; advance reservations are required.
  • Harlem One Stop offers walking tours exploring Harlem’s cultural heritage all year long and their calendar is a rich source of cultural events – music, dance, art, theatre, and much more – in Harlem and Upper Manhattan.