Philadelphia in February Features Opera Star Denyce Graves & 30th Anniversary of the African American Museum

Events Really Heat Up In February, Giving Tourists Another Reason to Stay Overnight

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 9 /PRNewswire/ — Philadelphia celebrates African American history 365 days a year, but things really heat up in February when the region’s museums, arts and cultural organizations and historic sites pull out all the stops for Black History Month. The 2006 celebration will be especially festive as the African American Museum in Philadelphia kicks off its 30th anniversary year and opera star Denyce Graves performs in the East Coast premiere of Margaret Garner.

Visitors can make the most of their Philadelphia visit with overnight packages offering value-added benefits and amenities. For a comprehensive listing of Black History Month events, hotel packages and to book accommodations, visit the newly redesigned http://www.gophila.com/.

Here are just a few of the month’s highlights:

Performing Arts:

* Internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves stars in the East
Coat premiere of Margaret Garner, the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s
powerful new work based on the true story of a fugitive slave who gave
up everything to save her children from slavery. The all-star cast,
featuring Rodney Gilfry and Angela Brown, performs the English libretto
written by Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison at the Academy of Music.
February 10-26. Broad & Locust Streets, (215) 893-3600,
http://www.operaphilly.com/

* The Renaissance Artist Puppet Company turns the Southwestern African
folk tale of Ananse and the Sky God into a full stage production at the
Montgomery County Cultural Center. The performance weaves together
puppets, music and dance. February 17-19. 208 DeKalb Street, Norristown,
(610) 630-4259, http://www.renartpuppetco.com/

Historical Happenings:

* Every Saturday and Sunday in February, the National Park Service (NPS)
conducts presentations about the President’s House and the slaves who
served there during the 18th century. Each weekend rangers will also
lead Slavery and the Underground Railroad, a walking tour of key sites.
NPS programs and tours originate at Independence Visitor Center. 6th &
Market Streets, (215) 965-2305, http://www.nps.gov/inde

* Pottsgrove Manor, the 1752 home of ironmaster John Potts, hosts Bound to
Serve — A Look at Slavery in the 18th Century. The lecture will delve
into the history of Pottsgrove and the slave trade. Free, but
reservations are required. February 12. 100 W. King Street, Pottstown,
(610) 326-4014, http://www.montcopa.org/historicsites

Museum Hopping:

* The African American Museum of Philadelphia celebrates its 30th
anniversary with a year of special events. Sundays during Black History
Month are film days with such classics as “The Color Purple” (February
5), “Hotel Rwanda” (February 12), “Sankofa” (February 19) and “Four
Little Girls” (February 26). Arts are on the agenda Tuesday through
Saturday with African dance workshops, storytelling and interactive
dramatic presentations presented by Mlanjeni Magical Theatre, Denise
Valentine and others from Keepers of the Culture. Lectures and book
readings by Haki Madhubuti (February 10), Carl Westmoreland (February
16) and Dr. Molefi Kete Asante (February 18) are also on tap. 701 Arch
Street, (215) 574-0380, http://www.aampmuseum.org/

* History lives at the Civil War and Underground Railroad Museum when a
costumed African American Civil War soldier talks about his experiences
in the Union Army (February 11) and when Harriet Tubman holds court with
stories and memories (February 18). The Museum’s Faith and Freedom kicks
off on February 19 with a re-enactment of the famous “Thanksgiving
Sermon” by Absalom Jones at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas.
1805 Pine Street, (215) 735-8196, http://www.cwurmuseum.org/

Out And About:

* During the Independence Visitor Center’s Black History Month
celebration, visitors can meet and chat with sports heroes
(February 4-5); black inventors (February 11-12); blacks in the
military, including surviving Buffalo Soldiers and Tuskegee Airmen
(February 18-19); and visit the Commemorating Slavery exhibition
(February 25-26). 6th & Market Streets, (800) 537-7676,
http://www.independencevisitorcenter.com/

* Discovery Day at Longwood Gardens is packed with activities for all
ages. Families can visit the African Bead Plant display, hear
storytelling by Mama Sandi, take part in a dance workshop by Dunya
Performing Arts Company, enjoy a jazz concert, participate in the Pot-a-
Plant activity or get creative at the kids’ African beading workshop.
February 4. US Route 1, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000,
http://www.longwoodgardens.org/

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) builds the region’s economy and image through destination marketing to increase the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county region. For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit http://www.gophila.com/ or call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Independence National Historical Park, at (800) 537-7676.

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