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Black History Month guide: Exhibits, tours and events around the Triangle

Here's a look at some of the best exhibits, tours, historic sites, events and opportunities to support Black businesses coming up in the Triangle this February.

Posted Updated
A man poses for a photograph taken in the 1800s.
Heather Leah
, WRAL multiplatform producer
RALEIGH, N.C. — February is Black History Month, which means historic sites and other venues are taking the time to reflect on and celebrate Black leaders, artists and others who have made a difference in our community and often haven't received the spotlight they deserve.

Here's a look at some of the best exhibits, tours, historic sites, events and opportunities to support Black businesses coming up in the Triangle this February.

Black History Month events in Raleigh

1. Tour the Pope House Museum

The first licensed Black doctor in North Carolina lived right here in Raleigh. People drive past his 120-year-old home in downtown Raleigh everyday and never even notice.

Inside the house is a time capsule to the life of a Black doctor in the early 1900s. The shelves are full of Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope's antique books. An old-timey phone hangs on the wall. Have fun guessing what some of the old, historic items 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. Tours are by appointment only, must be scheduled at least 30 minutes prior to the tour, and will be limited to a family group or 5 people. Please call the City of Raleigh Museum to reserve your tour at 919-996-2220.

2. Bazaar for Black History Month at Transfer Co. Food Hall

Support local Black-owned businesses! On Feb. 19 from noon to 5 p.m., Transfer Co. Food Hall is hosting a bazaar of local vendors. Shop and support! Learn more.

3. Driving tour of African American landmarks around the city

How many Black H\history landmarks do you drive past every day and not even realize it? From the carousel at Chavis Park, to the lost remnants of an African American university at Latta Park, to the incredible history at Oberlin Cemetery and Mt. Hope Cemetery – there's a lot of Black History around the city.

WRAL's GoAskMom has created a guide to some of the most interesting sites to begin your own driving and walking tours.

4. Events at the North Carolina Museum of History

  • Register now: FREE family arts & craft kits based on the work of artist Pinkie Strother. Start your celebration of Black History Month with these engaging, take-home, hands-on figurines. Each kit includes craft supplies and instructions, activities, a book list, and more. Only 50 kits are available. Learn more.
  • Feb. 9 at noon: Virtual talk uncovering the history of segregated North Carolina beaches during Jim Crow. From the 1920s to the 1950s, African Americans had few opportunities to spend time enjoying oceanside recreational activities. Though North Carolina had several other segregated beaches, Seabreeze was the largest and operated the longest. Learn more.
  • Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.: Virtual talk on the history of North Carolina's 12 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Dr. Jelani M. Favors will discuss how HBCUs became a refuge during the oppressive Jim Crow era and operated as vital seedbeds for politicians, community leaders, reformers and activists. Learn more.

5. City of Raleigh Museum: African-American Genealogy Symposium

On Saturday, Feb. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., the City of Raleigh Museum is hosting a variety of speakers to share on four different topics related to Black History. The virtual event covers the following topics:
  • Uncovering the stories of those who were enslaved at the Spring Hill Plantation, where Dix Park is today.
  • Investigating a compilation of newspaper ads for enslaved individuals who ran away from plantations in North Carolina.
  • Uncovering individual narratives for the nearly 140 enslaved workers employed at the Capitol.
  • Slave petitions project at UNC Greensboro.

6. North Carolina Museum of Art exhibition on architect Phil Freelon

Starting on Feb. 26 and running until May 15, the NCMA will host an exhibition highlighting the career of storied NC architect Phil Freelon, who designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

"Freelon’s work examines the multiple functions and meanings of skin—as both a protective covering and a visual form of identification. In his designs for African American communities and institutions, he expanded the idea of skin with complex building envelopes that explore the use of color, pattern, and material," says the NCMA website.

The exhibit is free. Learn more.

Black History Month events in Cary

1. Backyard History: Cary's African American Community

On Wednesday, Feb. 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 for online viewing courtesy of the Town 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 legacies set in the American South.
Through the Night is a portrait of three working mothers whose lives all intersect at a 24-hour daycare center: a mother working the overnight shift as an essential worker at a hospital; another holding down three jobs just to support her family; and a woman who for over two decades has cared for the children of parents with nowhere else to turn.
Both are available on the Town of Cary website throughout the month of February.

Black History Month events in Durham

1. Visit Historic Stagville Plantation

One of the largest plantations in North Carolina before the Civil War, the buildings at Stagville date back to the 1780s and the tour spans 163 acres.

Around 900 people were once enslaved here, and the site is now dedicated to ensuring their stories are told. Tour the original slave quarters (1851), a massive barn from 1860 and the Bennehan family house dating back to the 1780s. Learn more.

2. Tour Geer Cemetery

Sadly, several historically African-American cemeteries in the Triangle have, at some point, become so overgrown and broken that even neighbors don't even realize there's a cemetery there anymore. Geer Cemetery was in such a state, but has been cleaned up within the past few years by volunteers. Now, historic signage and archival photos adorn walking trails, ensuring the stories of those buried here are not forgotten.

There are an estimated 2,000 men, women and children buried in Geer Cemetery in Durham, but only around 200 existing grave markers or headstones. It's a lovely place to walk and take in Black history firsthand.

3. Celebrate Black culture and music at the Hayti Heritage Center

On Feb. 13 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., the Hayti Heritage Center will be hosting their Black American Music Series with a tribute to jazz legend Charlie "Bird" Parker.

Tickets are $15 to $20 and the live music will feature Sam King. Learn more.

Aside from attending the live show, the building itself holds a lot of Black history from the Hayti community and Durham.

Black History Month coverage on WRAL News

If you have an event you'd like to see added to the list, please email hleah@wral.com.

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 route to freedom across North Carolina.
Forward Together will highlight Black change makers making an impact in the community today.

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