Celebrate Black History Month 2024: A Guide to Events Uptown

Join the festivities as we honor Black History Month in Upper Manhattan this February.

Janrey Serapio
February 02, 2024

In the heart of Uptown New York, local institutions are gearing up for an extraordinary celebration of Black History Month this February.

From film festivals to lectures by luminaries in the arts—and even an anime and manga club!—there’s an opportunity for everyone looking to celebrate all month long. We’ll be sure to update this list as the month goes on, but here are some of the events going on Uptown that you should know.

Know of an event that we should include here? Send us an email

On Campus

Kwanzaa Film Festival’s “Films That Heal” Black History Symposium 

Date & Time: Feb. 3, 10:30 am - 6:00 pm 
Price: Free
Location: The Forum: 601 W. 125th St.

The Kwanzaa Film Festival (KFF) honors the rich history and culture of the African diaspora. In celebration of Black History Month, KFF will be hosting a symposium titled, "Celebrating Films That Heal," at The Forum. This year’s symposium will showcase a curated selection of films that explore the resilience, triumphs, and stories of the Black community. From thought-provoking documentaries to inspiring narratives, these films aim to heal, educate, and inspire change.

The Sisterhood: How Black Women Writers Changed American Culture

Date & Time: Feb. 6, 6:00 pm  
Price: Free
Location: Buell Hall: 515 W. 116th St. 

Columbia’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity & Race will be hosting Courtney Thorsson for a discussion on her new book, The Sisterhood: How Black Women Writers Changed American Culture. Read more about the book at Columbia University Press’ website.

The Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter Lecture: Arthur Jafa

Date & Time: Feb. 8, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm 
Price: Free
Location: Lenfest Center for the Arts: 615 W. 129th St. 

Join Columbia’s School of the Arts and the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies for their annual Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter Lecture. Launched in 2020, the lecture series offers a program of thought-provoking public discussions that spotlight the most compelling questions surrounding African Diasporic life, history, and culture. This year, renowned artist, filmmaker, and cinematographer Arthur Jafa will be the keynote speaker.

Films at the Forum 

Date & Time: Feb. 16 and Feb. 23 
Price: Free
Location: The Forum: 601 W. 125th St.

The Forum’s new public program, “Films at The Forum,” is bringing free movie screenings to its theater. For Black History Month, The Forum partnered with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Institute for Research in African-American Studies to screen two documentaries: Invisible Beauty (2023) on Feb. 15 and Black Is… Black Ain’t (1994) on Feb. 23. 

Films at the Forum

Music Monday at The Forum: Morrisania Band Project Tribute to Aretha

Date & Time: Feb. 19, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm 
Price: Free
Location: The Forum: 601 W. 125th St.

Celebrate Aretha Franklin’s musical legacy and artistic activism at this installation of Music Monday at The Forum, a free public concert series. Performances take place in the ground-floor Atrium on Monday evenings, once a month. This February, songstress Elissa Carmona and the award-winning Morrisania Band Project will be performing a tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. 

WORD: LIFE: An Opinionated Mixtape of Hip Hop Journalism

Date & Time: Feb. 20 to Feb. 21 
Price: Free
Location: Schomburg Center (Day 1) and Columbia Journalism School (Day 2) 

This two-day conference recognizes a half-century of hip hop journalism. Celebrating a media movement largely created by young people of color, “Word: Life: An Opinionated Mixtape of Hip Hop Journalism” will offer a window into the impact, challenges, and evolution of this art form.

The conference is a collaboration between Columbia Journalism School, the arts criticism non-profit Critical Minded, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, with support from advisors Syreeta Gates, Shamira Ibrahim, Bakari Kitwana, and Danyel Smith. 

African Diaspora International Film Festival: Black History Month 2024

Date & Time: Feb. 23 to Feb. 25
Price: $49.87 for a weekend pass
Location: Teachers College: 525 W. 120th St.

The African Diaspora International Film Festival is a Harlem-based, minority-led non-profit that presents films exploring the human experience of people of color all over the world. The films they premiere inspire imaginations, disrupt stereotypes, and help transform attitudes that perpetuate injustice.

Lenfest Kids: The Wiz

Date & Time: Feb. 24, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm 
Price: Free
Location: Lenfest Center for the Arts: 615 W. 129th St.

This cult classic, based on the Broadway hit of the same name, is an urban Wizard of Oz set and filmed in New York City. Dorothy, a young and shy Black school teacherail, is whisked away from her family’s Harlem home to a magical version of The Big Apple. 

Lenfest Kids is a monthly series of films for the whole family, including recent animation and live-action, as well as critically acclaimed classic films.

Speak Now: Claudia Rankine 

Date & Time: Feb. 29, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm 
Price: Free
Location: Lenfest Center for the Arts: 615 W. 129th St.

Celebrated writer Claudia Rankine (SOA'93) returns to Columbia University School of the Arts for the first of a new series of events, “Speak Now,” organized by Columbia’s Interim Dean and Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Sarah Cole.

Around the Neighborhood

New York Public Libraries

Date & Time: Various
Price: Free
Location: Various

Throughout February, the New York Public Library will be hosting a series of Black History Month events across the city. To see a full list, navigate to their events page and filter for the series, “Black History Month.” There are plenty of events to choose from, but here are a few taking place Uptown that caught our eye: 

Schomburg Center: Black History Month

Date & Time: Various
Price: Free
Location: Schomburg Center: 515 Malcolm X Blvd

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is technically a branch of the New York Public Library, but their Black History Month offerings are so comprehensive and deserve a solo spot on the list. 

Here are a few events for you to attend, but make sure to check out the Schomburg Center’s website for the full list of events:

The Apollo Theater: From The Victoria to The Village: A Visual History of Black Creative Spaces

Date & Time: Feb. 1 to April 30 
Price: Free
Location: The Apollo’s Victoria Theater: 233 W. 125th St.

The Apollo Theater is celebrating the grand opening of its Victoria Theater with an exhibition and visual exploration of Black artists and creativity from the 1950s through the early 2000s. The opening of the Victoria Theater will serve as the main incubation space to host multidisciplinary emerging and established artists to create and present work on The Apollo’s stages.  

Harlem School of the Arts 60th Anniversary Celebration

Date & Time: Feb. 8, 6:00 pm 
Price: Free
Location: Harlem School of the Arts: 645 St. Nicholas Ave.

Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) is celebrating its 60th anniversary with an exciting evening with special guest Latonia Moore, an international artist and Grammy-winning soprano. The evening will feature spectacular performances by Latina Moore, HSA students, and more special guests.

Screening of Dear Josephine by African American Women in Cinema 

Date & Time: Feb. 16, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm 
Price: Free
Location: Dwyer Cultural Center: 258 St. Nicholas Ave.

African American Women In Cinema is screening Dear Josephine, an award-winning documentary about the celebrated French dancer, singer, and actress Josephine Baker, presented by iONE Digital. The event will include a “talk back” with the director Amber Monet. Refreshments will be served and seating is limited. 

Schomburg Center

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism

Date & Time: Feb. 25 to July 28 
Price: Museum entrance fee (there may be a special admission fee for the exhibition) 
Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1000 5th Ave. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present the groundbreaking exhibition The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism. Through some 160 works of painting, sculpture, photography, film, and ephemera, it will explore the comprehensive and far-reaching ways in which Black artists portrayed everyday modern life in the new Black cities that took shape in the 1920s–40s in New York City’s Harlem and nationwide in the early decades of the Great Migration when millions of African Americans began to move away from the segregated rural South.

Cafe Melo’s “More than a Month” Exhibit

Date & Time: March 9, 1:00 pm - 9:00 pm 
Price: Tickets start at $23.18
Location: Cafe Melo: 345 Lenox Ave. 

Black History Month is more than just a month—and Cafe Melo is continuing the celebration with an art exhibition celebrating Black history that will open in March. Visit the cafe and community space to take in a collection of artworks by talented local artists. 

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