Updated Jan. 24, 2022
Everyone knows that Orlando offers unforgettable activities for all visitors, including open-air theme parks, wild attractions, dining and nightlife, the arts, shopping, sports, outdoor adventures, and much more. But did you know that we’re also home to engaging African American culture and history? Because we are — and we’d love for you to experience it not just during February’s Black History Month and its featured events, but throughout the year. See what’s on tap for 2022 and make plans to attend now.
Learn more: African American History & Culture in Orlando
- Black History Month Events & Exhibits
- African American History, Culture & Businesses in Orlando
- Map of Black History Month Events & Exhibits
See how Orlando is celebrating Black History Month in 2022, including art exhibitions, educational forums and uplifting celebrations of the arts. Check back for additional 2022 events as they’re announced, or visit our Events Calendar to find more things to do while you’re in town.
African American History Exhibit at Orange County Regional History Center (Ongoing)
This permanent exhibit at downtown Orlando’s Orange County Regional History Center invites you to explore the triumphs and tragedies of African Americans in Central Florida. It also features numerous paintings by The Highwaymen, a group of acclaimed African American landscape artists from Florida. Additionally, the center will offer free film screenings of Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story, which details the first racially integrated Little League game played in the South, on Feb. 13 and Feb. 17.
Learn more: Downtown Orlando
Black History Month Events at Orlando Public Library (Feb. 1, 8, 15, 16 & 22, 2022)
Downtown’s Orlando Public Library is celebrating Black History Month through film every Friday in February, including Selma (Feb. 1), Harriet (Feb. 8), Ray (Feb. 15) and Hidden Figures (Feb. 22). And on Feb. 16, the library will host award-winning violinist Pilar Winter Hill reading her first children’s book, A Neighborhood Walk, A Musical Journey, as part of their Children’s Author Storytime series.
The Mountaintop at Garden Theatre (Feb. 3 – 6, 2022)
Located in Winter Garden west of Orlando’s main tourism districts, the historic Garden Theatre will close out its run of The Mountaintop with dates on Thursday, Feb. 3, through Sunday, Feb. 6. The play presents a stunning imagining of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on Earth.
Learn more: Winter Garden
Trav’lin: A 1930s Harlem Musical at The Winter Park Playhouse (Feb. 3 – 6, 10 – 13, & 16 – 19, 2022)
A funny, heartfelt musical, Trav’lin looks at love during the 1930s Jazz Age with a tuneful score by Harlem Renaissance composer J.C. Johnson, whose songs were recorded by legends such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. The Winter Park Playhouse is in its namesake city just north of downtown Orlando.
Learn more: Winter Park
Special Events at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (Feb. 4, 11, 12, 22, 23 & 27, 2022)
The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando is hosting numerous Black History Month-related events in February, including performances featuring and inspired by legendary African American artists. They include Gladys Knight (Feb. 4), Voices of Freedom & Justice: An Evening of Spoken Word Poetry (Feb. 11), A Night of Love: Featuring Ben Tankard (Feb. 12), Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Feb. 22 – 23), and the 7th Annual MLK Concert: Promised Land, A Gospel/Spiritual Spectacular presented by the Orlando Mayor’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission (Feb. 27). What’s more, Gladys Knight, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the MLK Concert will be held in the Dr. Phillips Center’s brand-new Steinmetz Hall, giving you the chance to experience one of the world’s most acoustically remarkable venues.
Learn more: Steinmetz Hall
The SOKO Marketplace in Historic Hannibal Square (Feb. 5, 19 & 26, 2022)
“Soko” is a Swahili word that means “market,” and you can shop the SOKO Marketplace every Saturday in February at Winter Park’s historic Hannibal Square. Entry is free, as are music and yoga, and a variety of vendors will have unique goods for sale.
Sanford Jazz Ensemble Black History Month Concert (Feb. 6, 2022)
Recognizing the influence that African American groups such as The Mills Brothers and The Ink Spots had on early rock ‘n’ roll, Sanford Jazz Ensemble Black History Month Concert will take place at the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center in Sanford about 40 minutes north of Orlando’s tourism districts.
Celebrating Black History Month: 3rd Annual 1619 Fest Orlando (Feb. 11 – 13, 2022)
The 3rd Annual 1619 Fest Orlando will take place in multiple locations throughout Winter Park, including Hannibal Square Heritage House (Feb. 11), Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park (Feb. 12), and Shady Park (Feb. 13). This year’s theme is Maafa to Freedom: Surviving, Thriving, Resilience.
I Still Got Joy Concert! (Feb. 20, 2022)
Celebrating Black History Month, the I Still Got Joy Concert! will feature Roy & Revelation and Souls of Creation, plus local artists. It’s hosted by New Life Church COGIC west of downtown Orlando.
Diversitastic! Dining: Africa (Feb. 24, 2022)
Experience African culture without leaving Orlando at Diversitastic! Dining: Africa, featuring a full-course menu, drink and live entertainment that includes storytelling and chef talk. Hosted by Serengeti Restaurant inside Bronze Kingdom on International Drive, this event is presented by FusionFest, downtown Orlando’s multicultural, multifaceted festival that takes place Thanksgiving weekend.
Orlando’s history can be traced back to the prehistoric era with a melting pot of peoples and cultures making their marks along the way. One of the most important — not just to Central Florida but to the American Civil Rights movement — is our African American community, whose influence can be felt throughout the area.
Historic Eatonville & Zora Neale Hurston
Just 25 minutes north of Orlando’s main tourism districts, the historic town of Eatonville was one of the first self-governing, all-Black municipalities in the U.S. — and the oldest still in existence today. Incorporated in 1887, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
Around the turn of the 20th century, Eatonville attracted the family of famed author Zora Neale Hurston, who was a child at the time. The town and nearby communities also provided a setting and inspiration for Hurston’s best-known novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Eatonville celebrates their most famous resident with the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, aka ZORA!® Festival, and the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, aka The Hurston.
ZORA! Festival is a multifaceted, multicultural celebration that traditionally takes place in January. But no matter when you visit Eatonville, stop by The Hurston for resources to help you make the most of your visit, including details about historic buildings and markers throughout the city, such as St. Lawrence AME Church and the Mosley House. Admission to The Hurston is free, but donations are encouraged. Guided walking tours are also available by appointment; call (407) 960-1361 for details.
African American History Throughout Orlando
Downtown Orlando is another rich source of African American history and culture. Based inside the historic Wells’Built Hotel, the Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture was constructed in 1921 by prominent African American physician Dr. William M. Wells and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It originally catered to African American guests who were barred from Florida’s then-segregated hotels, including many famous musicians, and earned a spot on The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, which served as the basis for 2018’s Oscar-winning Green Book.
Today, the Wells’Built houses memorabilia of Orlando’s African-American community, displays of the Civil Rights movement, and African art and artifacts. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and by appointment on Saturdays.
Downtown Orlando is also home to historic Tinker Field, a space next to Camping World Stadium that was the site of a moving Civil Rights speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964 and was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
A short drive west from there will take you to Hannibal Square in Winter Park, home of the Hannibal Square Heritage Center. Here, you can explore the district’s origins as an African-American community with ties to the historic South Florida Railroad. Admission is free.
Black-Owned Restaurants & Other Businesses
While visiting Orlando, you can support a variety of Black-owned restaurants and other businesses in February and all year long, including many options in downtown Orlando and Eatonville. Visit the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida’s website to discover delicious Black-owned restaurants.
Like The Huston and the Wells'Built Museum, Bronze Kingdom African Art Gallery is another Black-owned attraction worth visiting. Located on International Drive, it boasts the world’s largest collection of rare African bronze statues, plus beaded and wood sculptures — more than 2,000 pieces in all.
African American history, arts and culture are key parts of Orlando’s rich tapestry, and there’s lots more to explore while you’re here. Take advantage of our free planning tools and other resources to unlock an Orlando getaway that’s perfect for your family!
Use this interactive map to track down all of the Black History Month events and exhibitions featured in this blog. (Click here if you found us via Google and don’t see a map or images!)
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