This Midwinter Recess, take a family trip through time, Black history-style.

Throughout February, cultural institutions across New York City are celebrating Black History Month by offering New Yorkers of all ages free, family-friendly, digital exhibitions and events that can be accessed from just about any place where there’s an internet connection.

To help City families learn more about these outstanding digital resources and opportunities, we’ve put together the following list of Black History Month-related events that will take place throughout this year’s Midwinter Recess (2/15–2/21). Take a look through our list below, and hit any of our embedded links to learn more about each event.

Which events will you watch or participate in during the break? Let us know in the comments below!

On behalf of the DOE, we wish everyone a wonderful Midwinter Recess!

GIF that says "Honoring Black History Month," while portraits of famous Black Americans from across US history flicker in and out


Black History Month Events Available Online
During Midwinter Recess

Below, you will find a collection of family-friendly digital events hosted by the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the New York Public Library (NYPL), the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), the Queens Public Library (QPL), and the New-York Historical Society (N-YPH) during Midwinter Recess.

Please note that you will need a device with audio and/or video and an internet connection to access any of these events.

For even more Black history-related digital events and resources available in February 2021 for children and/or adults, we encourage you to explore each of these institutions’ websites!


Available Online All Month Long

In celebration of Black History Month, BAM has released a free, limited-time digital adaptation of their annual tribute to the iconic civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Audience members from around the world are invited to watch New York City’s largest public celebration of Dr. King’s legacy, featuring world-renowed activists, public figures, and civic leaders alongside musicians and other performers. Draw inspiration from Dr. King’s words, life, and actions, and enjoy performances by Grammy winner, PJ Morton, Tarriona “Tank” Bell, Sing Harlem!, and more!

Hosted by the New-York Historical Society (N-YHS), this virtual tour of N–YHS’ 2018 traveling exhibit recounts the dramatic, national story of the struggle for Black equality after the end of the Civil War.

Featuring interactive 360˚ views, this exhibit was photographed at the Atlanta History Center and includes specially-created displays about Georgia history.

Kids in Black History: Claudette Colvin! (BPL)

Online until February 28, 2021
Ages 11–18

Learn all about Claudette Colvin, the 15-year-old Civil Rights pioneer who fought against bus segregation and won. She inspired Rosa Parks, and hopefully, she’ll inspire you, too!

On this page, middle and high schoolers can access videos, primary sources, eBooks, and audiobooks regarding this civil rights icon. To get started, watch this video on Facebook, and then visit BPL’s event page for more sources.

Saturday, February 13

Watch this rich cultural program featuring operatic favorites such as “Toreador’s Song” from the opera, “Carmen” by Bizet, and beloved spirituals like, “Steal Away;” “Amazing Grace,” and many more.

Watch this event live on the Queens Public Library’s Facebook page.

Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech at a podium with multiple microphones and surrounded by a sea of people

Throughout February, BAM is hosting a free, limited-time digital adaptation of their 35th annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Watch it before it gets pulled offline after February 28!

Tuesday, February 16

Kids Online Book Discussion African American Folktales (NYPL)

3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
Ages: 5–12 years (with parental supervision)

Celebrate Black History month with an Online Kids Book Discussion about African American folktales. Participants will also be making a fun craft!

To join this activity, online registration is required. Make sure you also have a white paper plate and crayons for this event. Once registered, a URL link will be sent to you by email approximately one day before the discussion.

This activity is geared toward parents/caregivers and their children—both a parent/caregiver and the child must be present during the program: unaccompanied adults or children will be asked to leave the event.

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
All ages

Join the dancers and drummers of Urban Stages in this celebratory program where you can learn dance steps, hear stories, and enjoy a front-row seat to performances from top NYC dancers.

Watch this performance on NYPL’s Watch and Learn webpage.

Dating back to the ancient kingdoms of West Africa, griots are traveling storytellers who have preserved West African traditions, songs, stories, genealogies, and other historical narratives. In this workshop, children will be asked to imagine a griot telling stories around a campfire in a West African village. Then, the students will be asked to make a tabletop model of the griot and and its traditional village structure.

Registration will be required to participate in this event. The following materials will also be needed:

      • Carboard base – cut from a mailing box,
      • Small, recycled boxes for the structure (round or square ones are great)
      • Cardboard scraps
      • Construction paper — especially green and brown
      • Scissors
      • Tape
      • Glue stick and/or Elmo’s glue.
      • Optional transfer: tissue paper, twigs and pebbles, toothpicks, bottle caps, egg cartonss, markers, etc.

Kids Book Discussion: Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (NYPL)

3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
Ages: 7–12 years (with parental supervision)

Join librarians from the Dongan Hills and South Beach Libraries to celebrate Black History Month by learning about the life and artistic style of Jean-Michel Basquiat. During this event, children can listen to librarians read about Basquiat, his paintings, and his drawing style, and then they can create their own Basquiat-inspired works.

Please have paper, scissors, crayons, colored pencils, and/or markers with you for the program.

Registration for this event is required. Once registered, you will be sent a Google Meet event link. Please note that both a parent/caregiver and the child must be present during the program: unaccompanied adults or children will be asked to leave the program.

Student sitting in front of laptop with mother looking over her shoulder

Want to check out more books for Black History Month? Check out our previous post, “Commemorate Black History Month One Page at a Time” for a list of books for all ages!

Wednesday, February 17

Online Family Storytime at Washington Heights (NYPL)

11:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Ages: 0–12 years (with parental supervision)

Join librarians from NYPL’s Washington Heights branch as they host a live, Black history-related online program with songs, rhymes, and favorite read-aloud books for the whole family!

Because Online Family Storytime is a program for parents/caregivers and their children, both the parent/caregiver and the child must be present during the entire program: unaccompanied adults or children will be asked to leave the program.

Register for this event before Monday, 2/15/21, as a Google Meet link will be emailed to registrants on Monday, 2/15/2021 by 5:00pm.

Celebrate Black History Month! Virtual Program for Kids (NYPL)

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Ages: 5–10 years (with parental supervision)

Join staff members at the Tottenville, Richmondtown, and Great Kills Libraries on Google Meet to celebrate and honor the achievements of African Americans throughout history!

This program is geared toward parents/caregivers and their children—both the parent/caregiver and the child must be present throughout this event. Unaccompanied adults or children will be asked to leave the program

Register for this event by Monday, 2/15/21, with your email address; a participation link will be sent to you by email approximately one day before the discussion.

African American Poetry Celebration (NYPL)

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Ages: 13–17 years

Celebrate the rich history of African American Poetry with readings, discussion, and the history of some of the best loved poets and poems of all time. You can either bring a poem of your choice, or you can choose from some great works on hand.

Registration is required. This program will take place on Google Meet. Once you register, you will receive an event confirmation via email containing the Google Meet link you’ll need to join this event.

Kids Explore: Shirley Chisholm (BPL)

3:30 p.m.– 4:30 p.m.
Ages 7–12 years

Before Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris, back in 1972, there was another woman that ran for president. Her name was Shirley Chisholm, and she was a Black woman from Brooklyn.

During this event, kids will celebrate Shirley Chisholm’s life and learn about her amazing legacy. They’ll even be some poetry writing!

Registration is required for this program—a Zoom link will be sent out an hour before the event.

Celebrate the Voices of Black History: Virtual Program for Kids (NYPL)

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Ages: 5–10 years (with parental supervision)

Build craft rockets and celebrate Black history with staff members from the Tottenville, Richmondtown, and Great Kills libraries on Google Meet!

To participate in the craft portion of this program, you will need:

      • an empty paper towel roll;
      • some aluminum foil (or a rectangular piece of paper or cardboard);
      • Construction paper;
      • scissors;
      • glue;
      • tape; and
      • crayons/markers.

This program is geared toward parents/caregivers and their children—both the parent/caregiver and the child must be present throughout this event. Unaccompanied adults or children will be asked to leave the program

Registration is requiredyou must register with your email address in order to receive the link to participate. The link will be sent to you by email approximately one day before the event.

Shirley Chisholm giving a speech at a podium

Shirley Chisholm’s (1924–2005) political career inspired generations of women and black people to seek public office, including President Barack Obama, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Thursday, February 18

The Woodson Project Presents: Online Family Storytime Black History Month Celebration (NYPL)

10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Ages 0–12 years (with parental supervision)

Join the children’s librarians from the Harry Belafonte and Fort Washington libraries for online storytime featuring classic early literacy titles and new, Black History Month-related favorites.

Because Online Family Storytime is a program for parents/caregivers and their children, both the parent/caregiver and the child must be present during the entire program: unaccompanied adults or children will be asked to leave the online event.

Registration is required for this event—you must register with your email address in order to receive the Google Meet link needed to participate. The link will be sent to you by email approximately one day before the program.

Virtual Book Adventures: In Celebration of Black History Month (BPL)

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Ages 6–8 years old

Watch librarians from the Dyker Library as they read “This is the Rope: a Story from the Great Migration,” by Jacqueline Woodson, and “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut,” by Derrick Barnes, on Facebook Live!

Visit BPL’s Facebook page at this event’s official start time to begin watching.

Friday, February 19

Tales of Black Heritage from Around the World (BPL)

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
All ages

Watch and listen as storyteller, Tammy Hall, recounts her “Tales of Black Heritage from Around the World,” a fantastic literary journey of stories from the African Diaspora, and hear about lands in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas.

Tune into BPL’s Facebook page and YouTube channel at this event’s official start time to begin watching.

Black History Month Story and Craft: Music (QPL)

3:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Ages 4–7 years

Join Ms. Jeanne, Youth Services Manager at Flushing Library, to explore Black History Month through story and a craft using paper, scissors, glue, and crayons.

Register for the event to participate.

The Rhythms of Our Roots with Urban Stages (QPL)

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
All ages

It’s time to go on a rhythmic journey from Africa to the US! Listen to the patterns and beats that have moved around the world and been passed down through the generations, and then get a chance to try them with your family! By the end of this workshop, your whole family will be able to use just about any common household object as an instrument!

Tune into to QPL’s Facebook page during the event time to watch it live.

Saturday, February 20

City Hope (BPL)

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Ages 10 and under

“City of Hope” is the story of how music from African Roots developed into beloved forms of artistic expression around the world. Featuring a score that blends Zydeco, Jazz, R&B, and Broadway, “City of Hope” is a fun family musical will take you on a musical journey from Africa to New Orleans, Paris and Detroit.

This performance was previously filmed at the Historic Actor’s Temple Theatre off Broadway in February of 2020. Tune into BPL’s Facebook page and YouTube channel at the start of this event to begin watching.

Watch an entertaining and educational production based on the life and times of Harriet Tubman. During this dramatic one-woman show starring Christine Dixon, you’ll see how Harriet’s harrowing and dangerous life unfolds as she tells the moving story of how she brought hundreds of slaves – and her own family – to freedom during the Civil War. The show includes original and reinterpreted music from period spirituals.

This pre-recorded program will air on the BPL’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel and remain there for 48 hours.


Banner photo by August de Richelieu. Used under Creative Commons license. Original can be found on Pexels.

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NYC Department of Education, 2019