A bit of history…
Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans.
Delaware County History
Many vital parts of the Underground Railroad, a network of people who offered shelter and aid to enslaved people on their journey to the north, had their home Delaware County. Guides on the Underground Railroad, known as conductors, sheltered fugitive enslaved people in private homes, churches, and schoolhouses in a dangerous passage to freedom. Recently, a new self-guided walking tour of some underground railroad sites has opened in the county. The tour begins in Drexel Hill and terminates at Friends Southwestern, where many prominent abolitionists and notable figures are buried. More Information
Delaware County is home to Eden Cemetery, the oldest public African American burial ground in the United States and the final resting place to more than 400 U.S. Colored Troops. Eden Cemetery is also home to several famous individuals, including Marian Anderson, the American contralto. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Washington, D.C. Anderson, in return, struck a blow for civil rights when she sang on the Lincoln Memorial steps to an in-person audience of 75,000 and a radio audience of millions. Learn more about Marian Anderson and her career.
Also buried at Eden is William Still, a free-born man, leader of the abolitionist movement, and father of the Underground Railroad. Still helped guide hundreds of enslaved people to escape bondage, at one point, helping as many as 60 enslaved people a month flee to freedom. Learn more about William Still’s life and work.
Other pioneers buried at Eden include John Baxter Taylor Jr., a veterinarian who was the first African American Olympic gold medalist, and the Rev. Dr. Charles Tindley, regarded as the Father of American Gospel Music, as well as Laura Wheeler Waring, the well-known Harlem Renaissance artist.
Delaware County is home to the oldest historically Black college in the United States, Cheyney University. Lecturers at Cheyney include W.E.B DuBois and Langston Hughes; commencement speakers have included former President Jimmy Carter, author Alex Haley, and former NAACP Executive Director Benjamin J. Hooks. Learn more about Cheyney University.
A native of Chester, Delaware County, Bayard Rustin was a civil rights activist and close advisor to Martin Luther King Jr. In 1941, Rustin worked on the March on Washington Movement, whose aim was to end racial discrimination in employment. Rustin was also one of the principal organizers of Freedom Rides, rides on interstate buses into the segregated Southern United States in 1961 and subsequent years that challenged the non-enforcement of the United States Supreme Court decisions that segregated public buses were unconstitutional. Learn more about Bayard Rustin.
Other notable Delaware County natives include Leroy Russell Burrell, a former track and field athlete who won gold in the 100 m ahead of Carl Lewis at the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle; Ted Dean, running back for the Philadelphia Eagles; famed broadcast journalist, Bill Whitaker; and Wanda Sykes, actress, comedian, and writer.
Local Nonprofit Events
NAACP Chester Local Branch
Chester City Hall Community Center
1 East 4th St Chester, PA 19013
Sat. Feb 18, 2023, at 12:00 p.m.
Free admission, Hostess: Lady Chaplain Lisa R Dennis
Contact City Hall for more information 610-447-7700
Park Avenue Community Center
129 Park Ave Swarthmore, PA 19081
Friday Feb 3, 2023
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Hands on Interactive event, special guest presentations
Refreshments after the program
Stax Music Academy 2023 Black History Month Production, Soul of America: The Evolution of Soulsville Teaser
Streaming live online
Fri. February 3, 2023, at 8:00 a.m.
Middletown Free Library
Indoor Story Times with Mr. Jason featuring books by Black authors, illustrators, or feature Black characters/ historical figures.
464 S. Old Middletown Rd Suite 3 Media, PA 19063
Monday Feb 20, & Feb 27, at 10:00 a.m. & 11:00 a.m.
Tuesday Feb 7, 14, 21, 28, at 10:00 a.m. & 11:00 a.m.
Wednesday Feb 1, 8, 15, 22, at 10:00 a.m.
There will be a scavenger hunt which showcases Black leaders and a cookbook activity from the book “black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora”, which will be on display at the library.
Delaware County Community College
2nd Annual Black and Diverse Business Forum
Presented by Senator Tim Kearney and Representative Gina H. Curry
901 S Media Line Rd. Media, PA 19063
Sat. Feb. 25, 2023, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
For more information, contact Senator Kearney’s office: 610-544-6120
Haverford Township Free Library
Crafternoon Thursday: Black History Month
1601 E Darby Rd Havertown, PA 19083
Thursday Feb. 2, 2023, 4:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Children will create a craft inspired by Black History Month
For families and children ages 6-12
Delaware County Libraries/Council
Delaware County Council: Celebrating Black History Month
Wednesday February 1, 2023, at 7:00 p.m.
Streaming live on Facebook
Screening of the Documentary We Been Here
Produced by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated Chester (PA) Alumnae Chapter. The documentary looks at the history of Black Americans in Delaware County, and their historical and contemporary contributions.
Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Widener University Founders Hall/ 109