Raleigh, North Carolina – It’s Black History Month, which means historic sites and other places take time to reflect and celebrate Black leaders, artists and others who have made a difference in our community and not have often not received the attention they deserve.
Here’s a look at some of the best exhibits, tours, historic sites, events and opportunities to support Black businesses coming to the Triangle in February.
Black History Month Events in Raleigh
1. Visit the Pope’s House Museum
The first licensed black doctor in North Carolina lived right here in Raleigh. People walk past his 120-year-old home in downtown Raleigh every day and don’t even notice him.
Inside the house is a time capsule from the life of a black doctor in the early 1900s. The shelves are full of old books by Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope. An old telephone hangs on the wall. Have fun guessing what some of the old historical objects were once used for!
Tours are available every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and every Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Visits are by appointment only, must be scheduled at least 30 minutes before the visit and will be limited to a family group or 5 people. Please call the Raleigh City Museum to book your visit at 919-996-2220.
2. Bazaar for Black History Month at the Transfer Co. Food Hall
Support local black-owned businesses! On February 19 from noon to 5 p.m., Transfer Co. Food Hall is hosting a local vendor bazaar. Buy and support! Learn more.
3. Driving tour of the city’s African American landmarks
How many black history landmarks do you drive past every day without even realizing it? From the Chavis Park ride to the lost remnants of an African-American university in Latta Park, to the incredible history of Oberlin Cemetery and Mt. Hope Cemetery, there is a lot of black history in the city.
WRAL’s GoAskMom has created a guide to some of the most interesting sites to start your own driving and walking tours.
4. Events at the North Carolina Museum of History
February 9 at 7 p.m.: Virtual conference on the history of the 12 HBCUs in North Carolina. Dr. Jelani M. Favors will discuss how HBCUs became a haven during the oppressive Jim Crow era and functioned as vital breeding grounds for politicians, community leaders, reformers, and activists. Learn more.
Sign up now: FREE family arts and crafts kits based on the work of artist Pinkie Strother. Start your celebration of Black History Month with these attractive, practical figurines to take home. Each kit includes craft supplies and instructions, activities, book list and more. Only 50 kits are available. Learn more.
Feb. 9 at noon: virtual lecture on the history of North Carolina’s segregated beaches during Jim Crow. From the 1920s through the 1950s, African Americans had few opportunities to spend time enjoying recreational activities by the ocean. Although North Carolina has several other separate beaches, Seabreeze was the largest and oldest. Learn more.
5. Raleigh City Museum: African American Genealogy Symposium
On Saturday, February 12 from 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., the Museum of the City of Raleigh welcomes a variety of speakers to share on four different topics related to black history. The virtual event covers the following topics:
- Discover the stories of those who were enslaved at the Spring Hill Plantation, where Dix Park stands today.
- Investigation of a compilation of newspaper advertisements for slaves who ran away from North Carolina plantations.
- Uncover individual stories for the nearly 140 enslaved workers employed at the Capitol.
- Slave Petitions Project at UNC Greensboro.
6. North Carolina Museum of Art exhibit on architect Phil Freelon
From Feb. 26 through May 15, NCMA will host an exhibit highlighting the career of legendary North Carolina architect Phil Freelon, who designed the National Museum of History and Culture. African Americans in DC.
“Freelon’s work examines the multiple functions and meanings of skin, both as a protective covering and as a visual form of identification. In his designs for African-American communities and institutions, he has expanded the idea of skin with intricate building envelopes that explore the use of color, pattern, and material,” explains the NCMA website.
The exhibition is free. Learn more.
Black History Month Events in Cary
1. Backyard Story: Cary’s African-American Community
On Wednesday, February 17 at 7 p.m., this virtual presentation will explore the history of segregation in Cary, telling stories of Cary’s thriving African-American community with historic photographs, maps, and documents with rich visual material. Learn more.
2. Two Black Cultural Films to Watch Online Courtesy of the City of Cary
Take a moment to watch these two powerful films from the comfort of your own home.
River City Drumbeat is a powerful story of music, love and legacy set in the American South.
Through the night is the portrait of three working mothers whose lives intersect in a 24-hour child care center: a mother working night shifts as an essential worker in a hospital; another working three jobs just to support her family; and a woman who, for more than two decades, cared for the children of parents who had nowhere to go.
Both are available on the City of Cary website from February 1-28.
Black History Month Events in Durham
1. Visit the historic Stagville Plantation
One of North Carolina’s largest pre-Civil War plantations, buildings in Stagville date back to the 1780s and the tour spans 163 acres.
About 900 people were once enslaved here, and the site is now dedicated to ensuring those stories are told. Visit the original slave quarters (1851), a massive barn from 1860, and the Bennehan family home from the 1780s. Learn more.
2. Visit to Geer Cemetery
Unfortunately, several of the Triangle’s historically African-American cemeteries have, at some point, become so overgrown and broken up that even the neighbors don’t even realize there is a cemetery there anymore. The Geer cemetery was in such a bad state, but has been cleaned up over the past few years by volunteers. Now, historical signs and archival photos adorn the walking paths, ensuring the stories of those buried here are not forgotten.
There are around 2,000 men, women and children buried in Geer Cemetery in Durham, but only around 200 extant headstones or headstones. It’s a lovely place to walk around and experience black history first hand.
3. Celebrate black culture and music at the Hayti Heritage Center
On February 13 from 6-7:30 p.m., the Hayti Heritage Center will host its Black American Music Series with a tribute to jazz legend Charlie “Bird” Parker.
Tickets are $15-$20 and live music will feature Sam King. Learn more.
As well as witnessing the live show, the building itself contains much of the black history of the Hayti community and Durham.
Coverage of Black History Month on WRAL News
If you have an event you would like to see added to the list, please email [email protected].
Don’t miss our coverage of Black History Month on WRAL News.
We have two series this month: Following the Underground Railroad will explore different “stops” on the road to freedom through North Carolina.
Forward Together will spotlight black changemakers who are making an impact in the community today.