“You can never know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.”
~ Amelia Boynton, American activist and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement
In commemoration of Black History Month, the Borough of Collingswood is proud to showcase local events and initiatives dedicated to celebrating the rich history, culture, and contributions of African Americans. Throughout February, residents and visitors alike are invited to participate in a variety of activities, ranging from economic empowerment initiatives to cultural events that highlight the importance of diversity and unity.
We've put together a featured list of ideas and activities below to celebrate Black History Month. There are events, historical sites, and celebrations throughout our town and region and we welcome additions to this list!
Trains, Trains, Trains: Voyages in African-American History
February 3, 10:30 AM, Camden County Library Voorhees Branch
Camden County Library presents the Mlanjeni Magical Theater and its storytelling program. This form of East African theater features music, magic, puppets, and more! Be ready for lots of audience participation - all ages are welcome. Register at events.camdencountylibrary.org
The Influence of Black Media in American Culture
February 5, 4:30 - 6:30 PM, Rutgers University-Camden
Celebrate Black History Month by honoring past stories shaping future success featuring events educating, celebrating, and fostering community. Learn unsung tales inspiring resilience and register for the keynote kickoff featuring Susan L. Taylor, Founder & CEO of National Cares Mentoring Movement & Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Essence Magazine. Register Here
A Celebration of Black History Month at Perkins Center for the Arts
February 17, 12:30 – 4:00 PM, Perkins Center for the Arts, Collingswood
Join us for a special day of readings and spoken word by local artists, musical performances including CPR Music Invincible and soloist from the Marian Anderson Music Guild, plus local fare and desserts. Presented by the Perkins Center for the Arts, Collingswood Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and the Borough of Collingswood. Tickets Here
Black History Month Movie
February 24, 11:00-1:00 PM, Collingswood Library
Join your neighbors for a community viewing of an Oscar-winning documentary about a legendary Cultural Festival celebrating African-American music and culture. The movie is PG-13. Please call the library or visit their website for details at the Collingswood Library's website
Trailblazers Trolley Tour
February 25, 10:00 AM & 2:00 PM Tours
Sponsored by Ida’s Bookshop and Haddon Township Equity Initiative
Embark on a trolly tour to honor Black History, celebrate diversity, and contribute to a more inclusive South Jersey community with this specially curated tour of Black-owned businesses and vendors along Haddon Avenue.
View Tour Itinerary and Purchase Tickets Here
Stay tuned for more event updates throughout February.
Check out Camden County's Featured Events for even more activities in our area HERE
SUPPORT COLLINGSWOOD BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES
One of the highlights of this year's Black History Month celebration in Collingswood is the introduction of Economic Empowerment Hours. Various local Black-owned businesses will be featured during designated “Buy Black Blitz” hours throughout the month. Sponsored by the Collingswood BID (Business Improvement District), this initiative aims to encourage community members to support and uplift these businesses that play a crucial role in the town's economic landscape. The schedule will be released in early February. Check out the businesses below and support them in February and all throughout the year!
Action Karate | 1 W. Wayne Terrace
Avant’s Barbershop | 327 Haddon Ave
Beauty Trenz | 689 Haddon Ave
East Coast Calligraphy | 821 Haddon Ave
Elegant Star Boutique | 581 Haddon Ave
Galerie Marie | 709 Haddon Ave
Ida’s Bookshop | 734 Haddon Ave
Irene’s Place | 325 Haddon Ave
JeffMoney’s Best Kept Secret | 614 Collings Ave
Monarch School of Dance | 30 Irvin Ave
Three Twenty-One Salon | 321 Haddon Ave
Wander Boutique | 825 Haddon Ave
EXPLORE BLACK LITERATURE
Collingswood Reads Book Club Discussion
Stories from the Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana
February 28, 7:00 PM, Collingswood Library
Set in a Harlem high rise, a stunning debut about a tight-knit cast of characters grappling with their own personal challenges while the forces of gentrification threaten to upend life as they know it. Like Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place and Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, Sidik Fofana’s electrifying collection of eight interconnected stories showcases the strengths, struggles, and hopes of one residential community in a powerful storytelling experience.
Discover Black Authors
The Collingswood Public Library offers a wide variety of titles for all ages to celebrate and honor Black writers throughout history. From timeless classics to contemporary masterpieces, shelves are filled with works that showcase the richness and diversity of Black literary voices. We invite readers to explore these thought-provoking and impactful stories during Black History Month and throughout the year!
Click here for reading lists
Want to add to your home library?
Check out Ida’s Bookshop in downtown Collingswood. Named for historic heroine, Ida B. Wells the bookshop located at 734 Haddon Avenue carries a wide variety of titles and is one of the region’s most cherished Black-owned businesses.
VISIT A MUSEUM OR EXHIBIT
African American Museum of Philadelphia
The African American Museum in Philadelphia Celebrates and Commemorates Black History Month by exploring the theme of “African Americans and the Arts” and offering inclusive programming for visitors of all ages and backgrounds, bringing together diverse audiences in greater appreciation of the Black Experience.
Negro Baseball League Exhibit - Camden County College
The A League Apart exhibition showcases the importance of breaking barriers through the stories of the Philadelphia Negro Leagues and their ongoing legacy. Using photos, artifacts, and stories from the past, A League Apart focuses on the players who stepped up to the plate to change the biases and traditions of baseball. Hosted by Camden County College Cherry Hill Campus from February 1 - May 20.
Museum of the American Revolution
Celebrate Black History Month and explore the stories of unsung Revolutionaries with the Museum this February. Through the Museum’s galleries, special exhibition, and events for all ages, experience a fuller and more inclusive history of the nation’s beginnings and discover that the Revolutionary story is for everyone.
Did you know?
Unlock the treasures of the region’s cultural scene with FREE museum passes available to all Collingswood Library cardholders! Discover an array of area museums and attractions by simply checking out a pass.
More info and a list of participating museums here.
VISIT A HISTORICAL SITE
Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal, Camden
Macedonia AME (African Methodist Episcopal), established in 1832, is the oldest African American church in the city of Camden. Macedonia was a stop on the Underground Railroad and its minister, Thomas Clement Oliver, was New Jersey’s foremost stationmaster. The church served as the spiritual and civic center for the African American community in the Fettersville neighborhood, and it has continued to do so for 185 years.
Peter Mott House, Lawnside
Not only is this one of the few existing Underground Railroad stations that was owned and operated by an African American but it was also operated in an all-black town. Lawnside was incorporated as a municipality in 1926, the only all-black community in New Jersey, and possibly in the North, to have such a status., according to the New Jersey Historical Commission. Mott was a free black farmer who also served as the pastor of Lawnside’s historic Mt. Pisgah AME Church. The homestead is one of four sites in New Jersey officially registered as an Underground Railroad Historical site with the National Park Service.
Croft Farm, Cherry Hill
In the mid-19th century, this Cherry Hill farm was owned by Thomas Evans and later, his son Josiah, both Quaker abolitionists and members of the New Jersey Abolition Society. According to the Haddonfield Historical Society, the farm operated as an Underground Railroad safe house under the two men. Listed on the New Jersey and National Registers since 1999, today Croft Farm is owned and operated by Cherry Hill township as a community center. The grounds of Croft Farm also have 1.6 miles of trails open from dusk to dawn.
The Harriet Tubman Museum of New Jersey, Cape May
Cape May played a pivotal role in the fight for abolition and was a frequent stop for civil rights hero Harriet Tubman in the early 1850s. According to biographies and historical accounts, Tubman spent time as a cook at private residences and hotels in Cape May, which helped fund her missions to guide enslaved people to freedom.