Baltimore Celebrates Black History Month

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday February 4, 2013

All eyes are on Baltimore this week as the Ravens took the Super Bowl title and Beyoncé cranked out perhaps the most electrifying halftime performance in history.

It's a great time to recognize that "Charm City" - a nickname created by then Mayor William Donald Schaefer and a bunch of ad agencies to boost the city's national profile - is once again on the map as a vacation destination.

In honor of Black History Month, EDGE highlights Baltimore's events and exhibitions that pay tribute to the African-American men and women who helped shape the nation.

Baltimore is a city shaped by the contributions of African-American visionaries including the likes of world famous jazz singer Billie Holiday; great orator Frederick Douglass, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; and female abolitionist and "conductor" of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman.

"The Mountaintop" and Beyond

"The Mountaintop"
Through Feb. 24
The Lorraine Hotel. April 1968. In room 306, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. unwinds and prepares. A visit from a hotel maid offers welcome diversion and a challenging new perspective - but also raises profound and surprising questions.

Already a worldwide sensation and recently hailed in a star-studded Broadway production, Katori Hall’s new play receives its Baltimore premiere.

Defining Moments: An Exhibition of Works by Bryan Collier
Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History & Culture
Through May 26
Organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, this vibrant exhibition showcases the works of award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier, who grew up in Pocomoke, Maryland, on the lower Eastern Shore. Collier’s unique artistic style infuses both watercolors and collage. Works on display includes imagery from his children’s books "Martin’s Big Words," "Rosa" and "Barack Obama."

Celebrate Black History Month at the B&O
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum
Feb. 1-28
The B&O Railroad Museum opens a new African-American exhibit that celebrates the contributions of African-American to the railroad industry. Learn about the men and women who filled vital jobs along the B&O Railroad’s line and understand how significant social issues, such as segregation, affected railroading.

Milestones, Sailors and Marriage Equality

Milestones: African-American in Comics, Pop Culture and Beyond
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum
Feb. 1-March 1
"Milestones: African-American in Comics, Pop Culture and Beyond" features the talents and innovations that came from (or were influenced by) African-Americans. This special exhibit showcases African-Americans’ profound contribution to the comic book medium and the vital role that black superheroes have played in shaping its unique, ongoing narrative.

Black Sailors in Navy Blue
USS Constellation - Pier 1
Feb. 2-24
"Black Sailors in Navy Blue" addresses the rarely acknowledged subject of African-American sailors who served at sea during the Civil War. Tens of thousands of African-Americans - from freedmen along the Southern coast to old New England salts - enlisted in the navy. By 1865 they constituted 20 percent of the union enlistments. "The Black Sailors in Navy Blue" walking tour examines their responsibilities, their shipboard life and how their experiences may have varied throughout the fleet. Tours are scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays throughout February and by appointment throughout the year.

"Preach!" New Works by Jeffrey Kent
Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park: The Herbert Bearman Art Gallery
Feb. 14-March 31
In this solo show, Baltimore-based artist Jeffrey Kent criticizes what he sees as some of the opinions maintained within the black Christian community on marriage equality for same-sex couples. Using painting, collage, sculpture and multimedia installation, Kent explores current political events through racially charged imagery. The exhibition draws parallels between the civil rights movement and the fight for marriage equality in the United States by exploring imagery of racial prejudice.

Legends and Legacies

Musical Roots: From Africa to America
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Feb. 27, 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Explore the roots of jazz, blues and beyond with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and friends. Uncover the indelible influence of African drumbeats, moving spirituals and ragtime on today’s most popular genres. The program features the music of Duke Ellington, Baltimore’s own Eubie Blake and many more.

Throughout the year, visitors to Baltimore have an opportunity to experience three distinctive museums that tell a uniquely American story using the Legends & Legacies Experience Pass. Maryland will also celebrate Harriet Tubman’s life and legacy to commemorate the 100th anniversary of her passing. The centennial will include special events, performances, art exhibits and more.

For more information about Black History Month in Baltimore, visit

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Senior Editor of Travel, Lifestyle, Health & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.

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