For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development

Free Library Celebrates Black History Month Virtually

PHILADELPHIA, January 28, 2021—The Free Library of Philadelphia is proud to celebrate Black History Month throughout February with extensive virtual programming that examines and illuminates the vast achievements of Black Americans and the systemic barriers that have been placed in their way throughout history.

“We want to celebrate Black voices with amplification; we want to highlight Black experiences by listening; and we want to illuminate the work of Black Americans by not only learning about their accomplishments, but also about the systemic inequality that makes those accomplishments that much more astounding,” said Leslie M. Walker, Interim Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia. “We have put together a slate of free programs for all ages and backgrounds, so that we can celebrate this important month together as a city.”

Programs invite attendees to listen, learn, and share their thoughts about African American culture and experiences. Listed below are highlights of our virtual Black History Month programming. For a complete up-to-date listing of all upcoming events, visit

Radical Self-care in an Era of Activism: A Virtual Salon
Thursday, February 11 | 7:00 p.m.
Join chef Jena Harris and Professor Pysche Williams-Forson for an evening of self-care grounded in the salon-style traditions of the Harlem Renaissance. Chef Jena will welcome participants to make and enjoy sustaining food and drink while discussing and learning more from Professor Williams-Forson about how the contributions of authors, artists, and activists to American art and politics have built movements which center radical self-love. This free, interactive program is a collaboration with the Rosenbach's I Am an American! exhibit and the Free Library's Making Her Mark exhibit -- both of which highlight the life and legacy of Alice Dunbar-Nelson.

Collectors' Showcase: Philadelphians Collect Black Writers
Wednesday, February 17 | 7:00 p.m.
The Rare Book Department is thrilled to host five local collectors who have spent years preserving and celebrating the work of Black writers and artists. Join Gloria Akers, Supreme Dow, Oliver St. Clair Franklin OBE, Bea Joyner, and Frank Tyson to hear about their amazing collections and how they are working to share Black history. 

Michael Eric Dyson | Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America
Thursday, February 18 | 7:30 p.m.
Michael Eric Dyson is the author of Tears We Cannot Stop, an “eloquent, righteous, and inspired” (Philadelphia Inquirer) call for racial change that was named one of the best books of 2017 by multitudes of publications. His many books address Barack Obama’s presidency, Hurricane Katrina, Jay-Z, and the effects of MLK’s assassination, among other wide-ranging topics. A frequent New York Times opinion writer, MSNBC political analyst, and a professor at Vanderbilt University, his many honors include an American Book Award and two NAACP Image Awards. In Long Time Coming, Dyson employs the lives and legacies of five contemporary Black martyrs as catalysts for America’s long-needed voyage toward a racial reckoning and redemption. In conversation with Jon Meacham.

Black Writers, the Jazz Age, and the Harlem Renaissance at The Rosenbach | Virtual Behind the Bookcase Tour
Thursday, February 25 | 6:00 p.m.
The Harlem Renaissance is the fulcrum for this look “behind the bookcase” at great Black writers. Beginning with Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first acclaimed Black poet after Emancipation, we’ll spend the bulk of our time with letters and first editions of poet Langston Hughes and philosopher Alain LeRoy Locke-including the keystone work of the Harlem Renaissance, Locke’s The New Negro.

In addition to the schedule of programs for Black History Month, the Free Library now offers access to The HistoryMakers oral history database, the largest video collection of African American Oral history in the nation. This access is made possible by a grant from the Knight Foundation. Free Library cardholders can access The HistoryMakers Digital Archive at A library card number and PIN is required to login.

The Free Library will also be spotlighting the words and works of Black Americans all month on social media under the hashtag #blackhistoryeveryday.



Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850