Black History Month Exhibit at Smith Memorial Playground

On Saturday, February 4, 2023, from 12-1pm (rain date Sunday, February 5th), families throughout the region and distinguished guests will kick off Black History Month at Smith Memorial Playground for the “Opening Day Hooray” of the third annual exhibition Leaders and Legends of Philadelphia. Attendees will enjoy special programming in the Playhouse and on the Playground until 4pm. Mayor Jim Kenney will make remarks around 12pm.

This free, family-friendly event honors the contributions of local African American leaders across the fields of activism, architecture, education, finance, journalism, medicine, science, and performing and visual arts whose impact has made Philly a better place to live, work, grow and play. The exhibition is made up of educational displays focusing on each honoree’s life and achievements.

2023 honorees include: 

  • Natasha Brown (journalist and CBS3 anchor)
  • Dr. Beverly Coleman (Director of Fetal Imaging, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
  • Derrick Pitts, Hon.D (Chief Astronomer, The Franklin Institute)
  • Dr. Khalid Mumin (Superintendent, Lower Merion School District)
  • Hiliary Holloway (first African American officer at Federal Reserve Bank)
  • Julian Abele (architect who designed the iconic Philadelphia Art Museum steps)
  • Bishop Richard Allen (founder of the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia)
  • Sadie Tanner Mossell and Raymond Pace Alexander (prominent Philadelphia lawyers and civil rights activists)
  • Trudy Haynes (Philadelphia’s first African American TV news reporter)
  • Vashti DuBois (founder of The Colored Girls Museum)
  • Will Toms (entrepreneur and co-founder of RECPhilly)
  • Dr. Ethel Allen (physician and first African American councilwoman elected to an at-large seat in Philadelphia)

In conjunction with the first phase of Smith’s Revolutionary Action Figures project, which recently won the PHILADELPHIA250 Leave a Legacy grant competition, Smith will also welcome exhibit field trips from local elementary schools throughout the month. Students will have the opportunity to customize their own action figures based on the exhibition honorees in addition to learning about the city’s rich history and some of its most influential Black residents. Leaders and Legends runs through February 28 and Smith’s outdoor Playground and Playhouse remain open for free family visits Tuesday through Sunday.  

“We are excited to celebrate the achievements of these important leaders and hope that their inspiring stories will spark conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion among children and their families,” says Frances Hoover, Executive Director of Smith Memorial Playground.  “It’s important that children know that many African American heroes, leaders and legends lived and made their mark in Philadelphia.”

Learn more about Leaders and Legends at  

Leaders and Legends of Philadelphia is made possible by the generous support of Lowe’s and the UPenn Weitzman School of Design.

Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse is a non-profit organization located at 3500 Reservoir Drive in Philadelphia’s East Fairmount Park. Founded in 1899, Smith welcomes visitors from more than 500 zip code areas including every zip code in Philadelphia. The mission of Smith is to provide and promote opportunities for unstructured free play for children,  and contribute to the development of healthy children, strong families, and safe communities by maintaining a proud tradition of free admission, partnering with community-based organizations to reach a diverse audience, and advocating for the importance of play. For more information about Smith please visit

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