13 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in NJ

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February is Black History Month, and one takeaway from the past year is we can always do more to learn more about other people’s cultures, experiences, and struggles.  As families, we can discover opportunities to start conversations and gain a deeper understanding of systemic racism and recent events. And taking part in Black History Month—whether it’s listening to a virtual storytime about a Black artist enslaved during the Civil War, learning about Black historical figures from a virtual presentation, or going out to support Black-owned businesses and artisans—is a way to do that. Scroll down to find one or a few ways to celebrate with your family all February. 

featured image via Express Yourself Studios, LLC

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Here Are 13 Ways To Celebrate Black History Month In NJ

Arts Institute of Middlesex County’s Black History Month
Various dates and times in February
Grab your littles and kiddos for virtual afternoon storytime. Listen to a reading of “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats, followed by a collage-making session using scraps from around the house. Or hear the story of Dave, an enslaved artist and poet who created pottery currently on display at the museum. 

Black History Month at Edison Public Library
Various dates and times in February
Littles will love making a Paper People Unity Chain Take & Make Craft, representing the hope of “the unity of all people in peace.” If you have teens, have them test their knowledge of Black history in a Zoom trivia contest. And you can get everyone together for a virtual Southern cuisine cooking class where Chef Jesse Jones will teach you how to make chicken gumbo, Savannah-style red rice, and honey buttermilk cornbread—yum.

Somerset County Library System of New Jersey’s Black History Month
Various dates and times in February
On February 12th, kids will love to “meet” inspiring Black leaders, including scientist George Washington Carver, entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, famous baseball star Jackie Robinson, former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, courtesy of Bright Star Touring Theatre. Then, towards the end of the month, learn about the powerful moments and people of the Civil Rights Movement through stories and songs.

Virtual Black History Bingo
February 18, and 25; 6PM-7PM
Even your littles are encouraged to join in on the fun here. Each Thursday has a different Black history theme, featuring musicians, movie stars, and leaders.

Black History Month Pop Up Weekends
February 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28; 12PM-4PM
Support local Black-owned businesses at this maker and artisan pop-up market. Shop from over 15 vendor stalls, discover new businesses in the area and then grab something to eat with the fam.
American Legion
3 Bond Drive
Union, NJ

Ocean County Library’s Black History Month Events
Various dates and times in February
At this month-long event, kids can create Adinkra charms and “Thank You, Omu!”-inspired gratitude jars, a Mae Jemison rocket craft, and Black History Month bookmarks. Get everyone together for a virtual Move & Groove Storytime, where you’ll sing, rhyme, dance, and learn about books by Black authors and illustrators. And older kids can learn about The History and Impact of Black Superheroes in Marvel and DC universes and talk about how they’ve contributed to promoting diversity and inclusivity in pop culture.

African American Cultural Committee’s Black History Month Events
Various dates and times in February
Join Rowan College at Burlington County’s celebration of Black History Month with a history-meets-fashion combination —hear about the history of Black models in fashion, and then tune into the Atlantic City Fashion Week fashion show. Or head to your kitchen and follow a cooking demonstration—Rowan’s top chefs will show you how to make their favorite soul food dishes.

The Township of South Orange Village’s Black History Month Events
Various dates and times in February
Be sure to check out their Black History Month Children’s Book Release program featuring Black characters and real-life heroes picked each Wednesday—one for your kids in grade school and one for teens. If your fam is looking for a more active activity, go for a socially-distant Erasing South Orange Borders Walk/Run on Saturdays through February. Each route will cover 3.1 miles (5k) and incorporate locations and landmarks significant to the African American experience along the way. 
Virtual and in-person
5 Mead Street
South Orange, NJ

Maplewood Arts & Culture’s Black History Month 2021
Month of February
Get out and about by heading to Maplewood anytime this month, where Maplewood Black Lives Matter Poetry Project features Black poets and poems. At the Hilton Branch of the Library, you can see the work of Simone Anthony-Brown, artist and owner of Express Yourself Studios, featuring abstract and multimedia paintings of notable African Americans from the past and present. Also, check out the Walk of Heroes Education Program, a self-walking tour of historical African Americans. When you’re done in town, make sure to tune in to the Jubilee! A Celebration of Black Composers on February 23, performed by the Columbia High School and Northern NJ Youth Orchestras. 

Let The Whole World Sing Featuring Glory Gospel Singers
February 23, 2PM and 7PM
Enjoy a virtual concert of diverse and inspiring music—centered around unity, peace, caring, and coming together—performed by the internationally-acclaimed Glory Gospel Singers.

Union County Celebrates Black History Month with Pioneering Aviator Bessie Coleman
February 23, 7PM
Join Union County for a live performance of “An Interview with Bessie Coleman,” the first African-American woman to get a pilot’s license—and the first American to have an international one.
Virtual on Facebook and via Zoom (see above link for Zoom link details)

Celebrating Black History Month: The Same Principle Lives in Us
February 24, 7PM
Step into the shoes of African Americans during the American Revolution. Through stories and artifacts from the Museum of the American Revolution, you’ll be encouraged to imagine what the Revolution was like for African Americans like author Phillis Wheatley, Elizabeth Freeman (the first enslaved African American to win a freedom case), and abolitionist James Forten.

Arts Council of Princeton Virtual Workshop: Harlem Renaissance & the Art of Collage
February 27, 1:30PM
Local artist Kenneth Lewis Sr. will be leading this free workshop based around the creativity and art of the Harlem Renaissance—and, specifically, artist Romare Bearden. Kids will use everyday items to stretch their imaginations and express their creativity as he guides them on the basics of using collage as an art form.

How are you celebrating Black History Month with your family? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Author

Caroline is a writer from central Jersey who loves checking out new boardwalks and beach towns (current faves include Long Branch and Ocean Grove), admiring the foliage and walking around downtown Princeton, and singing along to music—often with her younger sister. One of her favorite jobs was being a camp counselor and helping out at local, family-friendly events. She can regularly be found ordering a pie to go from Romeo's in Plainsboro, her favorite pizzeria.

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