Cultural Resources Attractions Celebrate Black History Month

RALEIGH, NCBlack History Month is being observed with an array of programs at venues of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources throughout February. From escaping slavery, to ocean rescuers, songs of freedom, a barrier-breaking pilot or a day at the beach, a cornucopia of experiences await you. See listings for all our events at

Highlights include a major program about the work of escaped slave, author and abolitionist Harriet Jacobs at Historic Edenton on Feb. 9; a program on the Emancipation Proclamation and its meaning for America, along with a Trail to Freedom Tour with black and white Civil War era interpreters at Bennett Place in Durham on Feb. 23; and a program featuring retired US Airways Capt. Bill Wilkerson, the third black pilot hired by Piedmont Airlines, at the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer on Feb. 16.


Civil War - CannonMuseum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City. Feb. 9. Civil War Living History Day. Learn about life in America in the turbulent 1860s through re-enactors, docents and historian demonstrations, cannon firings and lectures. Visit with collectors of African American quilts, artifacts and more.

Feb. 10. Faith and Freedom. Gospel music by the Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church Celestial Chorus and the presentation “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality.”

Feb. 16. Memorable Sands Exhibit Opening. Be the first to see the relaxing, refreshing and removed images of African American beaches in the region and book signing with Frank Stephenson Jr., author of “Chowan Beach: Remembering an African American Resort.”

Feb. 17. Music at the Museum. Enjoy gospel music by the Greater Anointing Ministries and the Elizabeth City State University Gospel Choir and visit with collectors of African American quilts and artifacts.

Click here to see listings for other February programs at the Museum of the Albermarle.

Somerset Place, Creswell. Feb. 23. Waves of Freedom: The Emancipation Proclamation. (Presented at Creswell High School). Signed by President Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation transformed the Civil War. African American Heritage Commission Chair Michelle Lanier will review the complexities of the document and its effect.

Harriet Jacobs

Harriet Jacobs

Historic Edenton, Edenton. Feb. 9. Harriet Jacobs Bicentennial Celebration. Examines the life and work of Harriet Jacobs, who escaped slavery and became an abolitionist, activist and worker for freedmen after the Civil War. Her book, “Incidents is the Life of a Slave Girl,” was documented as the first slave narrative written by an African American woman by Dr. Jean Fagan Yellin, who is the key presenter. The Elizabeth City State University Choir will perform. Registration $25; students $12.

Historic Bath, Bath. Feb. 2. Thomas Day, Cabinet Maker: Man in the Middle lecture by filmmaker and educator Laurel Sneed on a free African American artisan and businessman at the height of the slavery era. Day was a father of the furniture industry in North Carolina and caught between competing forces.

Feb. 21. Historical Film Series: Red Tails. See the film that tells the story of 332nd fighter group that became the best U.S. pilot escort group and was known as “Red Tails.”

Tryon Palace, New Bern. Feb. 21. Down Home Eatin’. Shillena Parks as Ms Sadie Peppers, who has traveled the world and sampled many foods, but best loves a plate of chitlins’, collard greens and ‘tato salad. In her wisdom, Peppers realizes that problems can be solved and burdens lifted around the kitchen table.

N.C. Maritime Museum, Beaufort. Feb. 22. The Story of Pea Island Lifesavers. The producers of the documentary Rescue Men, the Story of the Pea Island Lifesavers, will be present for a screening of the film and Q&A. It is the true story of the only African American team in the U.S. Lifesaving Service, which was predecessor to the U.S. Coast Guard.

N.C. Maritime Museum, Southport. Feb. 1. We Fished for a Living. A tribute to Southport’s “Gentleman Giant,” the story of Elias “Nehi” Gore, who supported his family by working in the fishing industry. At 7′ 8″ tall, he stood out because of his height and also his contributions to Southport.


read-in-Victoria-300x201State Capitol, Raleigh. Feb. 16. African American Read-in. The public is invited to share favorite passages from the writings of contemporary and historical black authors, in collaboration with Richard B. Harrison Library. Contact Education Coordinator Terra Schramm to be a reader.

N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh. Feb. 9 and 23. African American History Tour. Explore the lives and accomplishments of African American North Carolinians from the antebellum period to the Civil Rights era.

Feb. 16. Make It, Take It. Drop in program for elementary school students to learn about African Americans from North Carolina and make a craft, jump rope or hear a story.

Feb. 17. At the Movies: Glory. Enjoy the 1989 film based on the story of Col. Robert Gould Shaw and the first African American Union regiment in the Civil War. Discussion with N.C. State University Associate Professor Susanna Lee.

North Carolina Symphony. Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville.  Feb. 21. Freedom. William Henry Curry will conduct . Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” “Symphony Number 2″ by Charles Ives, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” by Roy Harris, and other works. The photochoreography performance piece “The Eternal Struggle” will feature large format Civil War and Civil Rights images set to the music of Aaron Copland. David Hartman will narrate. Also part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial observance of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. Tickets required.

North Carolina Symphony. Meymandi Concert Hall, Raleigh.  Feb. 22 & 23. Freedom. Same program as above.

Bennett Place, Durham. Feb. 23. 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Historian Earl Ijames will explore what the document meant for free blacks, the enslaved and all Americans. Historic Burwell School staff will share the background of Elizabeth Keckly, seamstress and confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln and also activist Pauli Murray, whose grandfather served in the Union Army. Historic interpreters at stations on the grounds will represent the free and enslaved, U.S. Colored Troops and Confederate soldiers.

Stvlle-cabins-225x300Historic Stagville, Durham. Feb. 22. Reach for the Stars. In partnership with Morehead Planetarium, Stagville will explore the night sky and focus on myths and legends told in the African culture and related stories told by scientists today. Storytelling, tours of slave cabins and a constellation tour included.

Museum of the Cape Fear Complex. Fayetteville. Feb. 23. Fayetteville’s African American History. From the first appearance in the tax records to today, Professor Charles Anderson will discuss African Americans in Fayetteville, including John Leary, who participated in John Brown’s attack at Harper’s Ferry, writer Charles Chestnutt and Ezekiel Ezra Smith, 40 year president of what is now Fayetteville State University.


N.C. Transportation Museum, Spencer. Feb. 9. Journey Stories – Stories from the Underground Railroad with Meltonia Loretta Young. Part art exhibition and part history, the program examines the decoding of secrets of African American quilt patches synonymous with the Underground Railroad including myths. The role of Quakers and other heroic individuals is included.

Feb. 16. Retired Piedmont Airlines/US Air Capt. Bill Wilkerson’s Journey Story. In 1974, Wilkerson became the third black pilot hired by Piedmont Airlines. He shares the inspiring tale of growing up in a segregated society yet becoming a commercial pilot responsible for thousands of lives. Regular admission applies.

Through February. Hands on History highlights Black History Month with a special map of exhibits, including the Brockway fire truck used by an all-black firefighting force, black inventors Eli Janney and Garrett Morgan, the museum’s preserved segregated rail cars and the past segregation of Spencer Shops.