NPSD Celebrates Black History Month

Black History Month
The celebration of Black History Month began as “Negro History Week,” in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, an African American historian, scholar, educator and publisher. It became a month-long celebration in 1976. The month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.  

The Association for the Study of African American Life and Culture has established themes for Black History Month since 1928. The theme for 2024 is "African Americans and the Arts".

African American art is infused with African, Caribbean, and the Black American lived experiences. In the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary, and other forms of cultural expression, the African American influence has been paramount. African American artists have used art to preserve history and community memory as well as for empowerment. Artistic and cultural movements such as the New Negro, Black Arts, Black Renaissance, hip-hop, and Afrofuturism, have been led by people of African descent and set the standard for popular trends around the world. In 2024, ASAL examined the varied history and life of African American arts and artisans. 

A Few Fascinating Facts:

1. The origin of Black music is traced back to slavery. Spirituals were one of the earliest forms of musical expression (1619-1865). During slavery, enslaved people were forbidden to speak their native languages, as owners feared they would plan and share escape routes or seek revenge and rebel. To communicate feelings, slaves began singing and creating songs that were passed down to many generations. These songs were referred to as spirituals. There were songs of freedom and survival, influenced by African and religious traditions. Many say that Gospel music is a genre that comes from Spirituals. 

2. Blues music was created in the South in the 1860s, post-slavery. African-Americans created this new form of sound, taking inspiration from both work songs and spirituals. The genre is characterized by call and response patterns. It's the originator of the groove pattern and has many sub-genres, such as the Chicago Blues, Country, Delta, West Coast, Electric, and more.

3. The hip hop dance style originated in the Bronx, New York City during the late 1970s. The first song that popularized hip hop around the world was a 1979 single by The Sugarhill Gang called "Rapper's Delight". The word hip-hop was invented in 1974 by DJ Africa Banbaataa. Run D.M.C. was the first rap group to be featured on Rolling Stone Magazine and the first rap group to appear on MTV.

4. Joshua Jackson (1763-1824) was the first known African American painter who made a career out of art. Johnson was born a slave but when his freedom was bought at the age of nineteen, he began offering his services as a portraitist. Johnson probably learned to paint while he was enslaved.

5. What do the following artists have in common: Patti LaBelle, Jerry Pickney, Billie Holiday, Chubby Checker, James Dupree, and John Coltrane? All were born or grew up in Philadelphia!

Upcoming Black History Events in the Philadelphia Area


Local History


African American Art


African American Music



African American Dance



Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was the period of time from roughly 1910s to the mid 1930s when the Harlem neighborhood in New York City emerged as the Black cultural mecca. The social and artistic explosion that resulted in literature, music, stage performance, and art transformed African American culture.

General Resources