Celebrate Black History Month: Things to See and Do

This February, check out the events, exhibits, and historic landmarks the city has to offer that honor the contributions and history of African Americans in Raleigh, most of which are free and a few are even available year round. 

Black History Month Events and Exhibits

African American History Symposium
Saturday, Feb. 8

City of Raleigh Museum - 1 to 3 p.m.

Join us on Feb. 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. for the fourth annual African American History Symposium at the City of Raleigh Museum. This event will explore the transformation from slavery to freedom through two lectures. The event is free and open to the public. Collector Craig James will discuss images from his personal collection of early African American photographs. James’ library of rare photos capture the transformation from slavery to freedom and the emergence of a new black identity. A native North Carolinian, James is descended from enslaved people from the Spring Hill Plantation in Pender County. Among his collection are images of his family, “Nursey” James, who was born into slavery and lived into the 20th century. Also speaking will be City of Raleigh Museum director, Ernest Dollar, who will share new research on the enslaved community of Dix Park and the efforts to locate living descendants. During research on the museum’s latest exhibit, From Plantation to Park exhibit, Dollar discovered John Hunter, born in the 1760s, and traced eight generations of his family to New York. In November 2019, John’s family traveled back to Raleigh to learn about their historical roots and the future of the new park. 

North Carolina Opera Presents: Lawrence Brownlee
Tuesday, Feb. 18
A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts - 7:30 p.m.

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee has conquered opera houses worldwide with his dazzling performances. Now experience his artistry even more deeply with this intimate vocal recital with pianist Myra Huang. The program includes Schumann’s Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love) and Cycles of My Being Tyshawn Sorey and Terrance Hayes, which explores the condition of being black and male in America today. NPR Music calls Mr. Brownlee's voice "an instrument of great beauty and expression." You must be there to find out why. 

22nd Annual North Central CAC Black History Month Program
Saturday, Feb. 22

Tarboro Road Community Center - 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Everyone is invited to attend this exciting free event!  The North Central CAC will host its 22nd Annual Black History Month Program. The program will be held Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Tarboro Road Community Center and the program is from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the luncheon is from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. 

Raleigh Trolley Celebrates Black History Month
Saturday, Feb. 22

Mordecai Historic Park - 1 to 4 p.m.

Celebrate Black History Month on this special trolley tour around Raleigh highlighting the downtown area's African American heritage. Tour route includes historic homes, schools, churches, and business areas important to Raleigh's African American heritage. The trolley departs from Mordecai Historic Park and lasts approximately one hour. Tickets are $10.  Call 919-996-4364 for tickets and information.

Pope House Museum Hourly Tours
Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Free
Pope House Museum, 511 South Wilmington Street, 27601
Visit the home of Dr. Manassa T. Pope, one of the most prominent African-Americans in downtown Raleigh’s history. Learn about his life; his medical practice; his family; his contributions to the African-American community in downtown Raleigh; and explore one of the oldest standing houses on Wilmington Street. Tours start at the top of the hour. For more information, request a special group tour or sign a class up for an education program call 919-996-3022.  

Visit Martin Luther King Memorial Gardens
Open from dawn until dusk daily, Free
1215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Raleigh, NC 27610
First built in 1975, it is the first public park in the United States solely devoted to Dr. King and the civil rights movement. A 12-ton granite water monument honors the area's notable pioneers in the civil rights movement. 

Make sure to check back throughout the month as more events will be added.


Historic African American Landmarks

The City owns parks, a cemetery and other landmarks with significance to the African American community. Below are a few who have made it on to the local, state and national registers of historic places.

John Chavis Memorial Park and Carousel
505 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd Raleigh, 27601
Under the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA), Chavis Park was created in 1937 to give black families access to similar recreational opportunities as white families. It attracted black families throughout North Carolina from the late 1930s to the late 1940s. The carousel was installed as one of the main attractions and is one of the small number of vintage carousels that remain in operation today. The park is named for John Chavis, a black Revolutionary War soldier, who went on to establish a school in Raleigh, where he taught white students by day and black students by night. He also became a Presbyterian minister in 1799. Carousel tickets are $1.50 for all riders one year of age and older. Read more about Chavis Park’s history.

Mt. Hope Cemetery
120 Prospect Avenue, Raleigh, 27603
Mt. Hope, which was established in 1872, is one of the first municipal cemeteries for African Americans in North Carolina. Most sizeable towns in the state opened suburban cemeteries for whites in the post-Civil War era, but very few established municipal cemeteries for freed enslaved people. Several prominent residents are buried there including Rev. G.A. Mial, former enslaved person and educator Lucille M. Hunter, James E. Hamlin owner of Hamlin Drugstore and Dr. Manassa T. Pope, the first black mayoral candidate in Raleigh. Read more about Mt. Hope's history

Pope House
511 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh, 27601
As the only African American house museum in the state of North Carolina, the Pope House offers a glimpse into the life of one of Raleigh’s most intriguing citizens, Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope, who was the only African-American man to run for mayor of a southern capital during the Jim Crow Era. The Pope House is free and open to public Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Read more about Pope House's history.

Latta House and University Site
1001 Parker Street, Raleigh, 27607
Rev. Morgan London Latta, a freed enslaved person and teacher, founded Latta University in 1892. At its peak, Latta was home to 26 buildings home and 1,400 students, including orphaned children of former enslaved people. The university operated for 30 years. The Latta residence was the only remaining structure on the site, but it was destroyed in a fire in 2007. The City is currently working on a master plan for a park at the location. Read more about Latta House's history

Pioneers Building at Method Community Park
514 Method Road, Raleigh, 27607
The Pioneers Building was the old Agricultural Building of the Berry O’Kelly High School, the first fully accredited and largest rural high school in the state of North Carolina for African Americans. Read more about the Pioneers Building.