Black History Month in Lackawanna County
In Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, celebrating Black History Month is an opportunity to honor the rich tapestry of African American heritage woven into the fabric of the region. From the historical significance of the Underground Railroad to the vibrant contributions of Black-owned businesses, Lackawanna County offers a myriad of avenues to commemorate and embrace Black history.
Embracing Heritage: Black Scranton
At the heart of recognizing Black history in Lackawanna County is Black Scranton Project, an initiative dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage of the African American community in the area. Through educational programs, cultural events, and historical documentation, Black Scranton highlights the stories and experiences of Black residents, past and present.
This year’s “Healing Through the Arts” series is dedicated to celebrating the healing power of artistic expression. Beginning with a BHM Kick-off Reception and Exhibit at the Black Scranton Project Center for Arts & Culture, the center will also host open mic nights, film screenings, and wellness workshops. While the events are open to the public, registration is required and some are ticketed events.
Education and Enlightenment: University of Scranton
The University of Scranton serves as a pivotal institution in fostering awareness and understanding of Black history and culture. Through academic initiatives, lectures, and cultural events, the university endeavors to engage students and the wider community in meaningful dialogue and reflection on the contributions of African Americans to society.
This year, Melissa Anyiwo, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of History will be teaching a course titled “Hidden Figures in Black History” at the Weinberg Memorial Library. The course is part of the Schemel Forum, a community education and cultural enrichment program open to the public.
The University of Scranton's Cultural Centers, in collaboration with the Weinberg Memorial Library, the Louis Stanley Brown Black Student Union, and the Black Scranton Project, will also be hosting free and open-to-the-public programs celebrating Black culture. The theme for this month-long series is "African American and the Arts," showcasing African American contributions to various art forms and cultural movements.
Nurturing Entrepreneurship: Black-Owned Businesses
Lackawanna County boasts a dynamic array of Black-owned businesses, each contributing to the economic and cultural landscape of the region. From jewelry and clothing shops to restaurants and inns, Black Scranton’s Black Business Directory is an invaluable resource for discovering and patronizing these enterprises.
Tracing Freedom: The Underground Railroad
The history of the Underground Railroad weaves through the terrain of Lackawanna County, with significant sites marking the journey to freedom for enslaved individuals. From clandestine safe houses to covert routes, the Underground Railroad stands as a testament to the resilience and solidarity of those who sought liberation.
The Destination Freedom: Underground Railroad Walking Tour of Waverly at the Waverly Community House stands as the sole program dedicated to the exploration of the Underground Railroad and local Civil War-era history in the region, and is part of the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. This interactive tour delves into the lives of the area’s abolitionists and formerly enslaved settlers. Visitors can opt for a guided tour with a local historian or take the tour at their own pace with the official self-guided audio tour.
Honoring Pioneers: Prominent Black Figures
Lackawanna County is home to trailblazing figures who have left an indelible mark on the community. From the establishment of Pennsylvania's first Black fire company to the pioneering efforts of Scranton's first Black physician, Dr. Foster, these individuals exemplify resilience, leadership, and perseverance in the face of adversity. We honor them this and every month for their heroic efforts.
When in Lackawanna County, embrace the opportunity to celebrate, reflect, and honor the enduring legacy of African Americans who have shaped our past and continue to inspire our future.