9 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Westchester

Black History Month in Westchester is celebrated with local stories that many outside of the area are not familiar with – many stories that have had a lasting impact throughout history. This year, there will be many returning and new opportunities throughout the county to learn about and celebrate both local and worldwide Black history. Here are several Black History Month events happening this month:

Through February 25
Bokandeye African Dance Workshop Series
presented by New Rochelle Public Library

Dance has been an outlet for people to express their emotions and uphold cultural traditions throughout history. The New Rochelle Public Library will be keeping up this tradition with the Bokandeye African Dance Workshop in honor of Black History Month. In fact, participants will learn West African dance moves that date as far back as the 13th century. Students can pop into any or all classes. The workshop culminates into a performance on February 25. (1 Library Plaza, New Rochelle)



Through March 3
Black History & Culture: Fulfilling the Vision in Westchester
presented by Bethany Arts Community

Back for its third year, the Bethany Arts Community brings back its award-winning exhibition Ossining Black History & Culture: RESILENCE. DEDICATION. EXCELLENCE. This year’s show will have a new theme titled “Fulfilling the Vision.” The exhibition will expand upon the Black history in Westchester County, primarily focusing on Ossining. Concurrent programs will include concerts, curator talks, discussions and more throughout its month-long stay. (40 Somerstown Rd. Ossining)


February 1- March 1
The Sustaining Presence Stalwarts of African American Contemporary Clay
presented by Clay Art Center

For Clay Art Center’s month-long virtual exhibition, The Sustaining Presence Stalwarts of African American Contemporary Clay, viewers can experience renowned clay works by contemporary African American clay artists. The show, which was organized by guest curator Syd Carpenter, will feature works from influential, long-standing Black artists such as Winnie Owens Heart, Earline Grey, Malcom Mobutu Smith, Sana Musasama and more. Each of these artists have had their work displayed around the world and now it can be experienced in one virtual place. A virtual artist talk in conjunction with the show will take place on February 8, moderated by Carpenter.  (Online)


February 5 & 12 (Pelham)
Do The Right Thing

February 6 & 13 (Bronxville)
presented by The Picture House

For its Black History Month programming, Picture House Regional Film Center will present two renowned films by Black filmmakers. Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, screening on February 5 in Pelham, takes place over the course of a sweltering summer day in Brooklyn, during which racial tensions run high, erupting in violence and tragedy. Chinonye Chukwu’s Till, screening on February 12 in Bronxville, tells the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley, who became a leading Civil Rights activist following the lynching of her 14-year-old son, Emmett, in 1950s Mississippi. (175 Wolfs Lane, Pelham / 84 Kraft Ave, Bronxville)


February 5-March 1
Tracing Our Roots: New Rochelle’s Black History
presented by New Rochelle Council on the Arts

The history of New Rochelle’s Black history spans over 325 years. Its first big exhibition, titled 300 Years: Blacks and New Rochelle in 1984, uncovered history that was unknown or untold. Now, with Tracing Our Roots, New Rochelle Council on the Arts will be expanding on that history. On display at the New Rochelle Public Library, this exhibition will encapsulate a time from when New Rochelle was the location for one of the region’s largest Underground Railroad operations up until the initial fight against segregation for schools in the north. Reception on Feb. 25 (1 Library Plaza, New Rochelle) picture: Gospel Choir St Catherine AME Zion Church



February 6
Black History Month Celebration
presented by Westchester County Executive George Latimer
(148 Martine Avenue, White Plains)

Pictured: “No Justice in AmeriKKKa” by Jessica Greene / photograph courtesy of Westchester County Archives



February 9
Teen Tuesdays: Black History Month Celebration
presented by ArtsWestchester

In this Black History Month Celebration workshop, teaching artist Taeesha will lead students aged 12-16 through the creation of an artwork inspired by African American artists from the past and now. Students aged 12-16 will work on a layered collage inspired by the works of Romare Bearden, and will learn more about historical Black figures. They will then discuss what these figures did in the past and what they are currently doing (or might be doing if they were alive today). This workshop is part of ArtsWestchester’s Teen Tuesdays & Thursdays program. (31 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains)


February 12
Lift Every Voice
presented by Westchester Symphonic Winds

To celebrate Black History Month, and to kick off the second half of its 35th season, Westchester Symphonic Winds presents Lift Every Voice, a program for the Black National Anthem. The program features music composed by Omar Thomas, Jack Stamp, Kelijah Dunton and more. It will also feature soloists JoAnn Lamolina on trumpet and Matt Bilyk on trombone. Finally, concertgoers will experience Fisher Tull’s Sketches on a Tudor Psalm 50 years after being published. (Tarrytown Music Hall: 13 Main St Floor 2, Tarrytown)



February 28
D.I.G. (Discovering in Genealogy)
presented by the Westchester & Rockland Countywide Juneteenth Coalition

During this interactive workshop and conversation in ArtsWestchester’s gallery, Ossining native Joyce Sharrock-Cole, an award-winning historian and genealogist, will discuss some of the challenges she had, and discoveries she made, while researching her family lineage as well as the histories of other African American and slave-owning families in Westchester. Participants will be introduced to essential genealogical research tools and methods to help discover their own family histories. (31 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains)


More Black History Month Events


Through February 28
Black History StoryWalk
presented by White Plains Public Library

Visitors to the White Plains Public Library can stroll through its second floor gallery to read the children’s book, Molly, By Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter by Dianne Ochiltree and Kathleen Kemly.


February 6-9
Black History Month Programs
presented by Philipse Manor Hall

On Feb. 6, Philipse Manor Hall (PMH) will co-host the First Annual Northern Slavery Conference, which will address how area researchers and historic sites work to educate and improve understanding of slavery in the North. On Feb. 8, an in-person and virtual lecture by Lavada Nahon looks how historians identify artifacts, religious practices, names and lives of enslaved people across New York State. On Feb. 9, PMH will host the New York State Commission on African American History, which serves to highlight contributions by Africans and African Americans to the United States and New York State.


February 16 & 17
Haven by Samuel Harps
presented by Westchester Collaborative Theater

Hudson Valley was a key route on the Underground Railroad. This play is the first in a series that focuses on these important links to freedom. Starring Dameon Reilly, Maiysha Jones Reilly, Donna James, Steve Allen, Scott Schneider, Brian Bagot and Michelle Evans.