Black Philadelphians have shaped Philadelphia history since colonial times.

In Black History in the Philadelphia Landscape, Amy Cohen recounts notable aspects of the Black experience in Philadelphia from the late 1600s to the 1960s and how this history is marked in the contemporary city.


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How did a white woman come to write the newest definitive text on Philadelphia’s Black history?
April 18, 2024, The Philadelphia Inquirer

For the past two months, author Amy Jane Cohen has been lecturing about Philadelphia’s Black history to predominately white audiences at libraries, bookstores, and exclusive private clubs in the city and the burbs.

In the News

A New Book Looks at Philadelphia’s Black History, Century by Century​
February 27, 2024, Hidden City

There have been efforts to make our commemoration of Philadelphia’s history more inclusive. The state’s historical marker program, the Philadelphia Historical Commission, and a wide swath of cultural and educational organizations have been increasingly focused on the city’s Black history throughout the centuries and the neighborhoods.

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Black History in the Philadelphia Landscape
February 5, 2024, The Philadelphia Citizen

A veteran Philadelphia social studies teacher wrote a new book about Black Philadelphia history.

“In Amy Cohen’s able hands, the history of Philadelphia is Black history, from the enslaved laborers who built the eighteenth-century city and the Black abolitionists who fought to end slavery to the activists who led the city’s civil rights and Black Power movements. As if that were not enough, Cohen also highlights the vital contributions of Philadelphia’s public historians, whose advocacy for historical markers and memorials has inscribed Black history into the city’s built environment. Black History in the Philadelphia Landscape is essential reading for all who value honest and unapologetic assessments of the nation’s past.”

Matthew J. Countryman
Associate Professor of African American and African Studies and History at the University of Michigan, and author of Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia

“A polyvocal collection of hidden histories beaming a black light on spectacular intersectional lives who have made Philadelphia, this book helps unmute lost legacies of its public spaces and rethink stories of cityhood. Cohen offers an actionable Black atlas for navigating the nation’s most historic city—whether as a student, a visitor, or an everyday resident. Moreover, packaging this pluriverse of global Black history made locally provides an urgent model for practicing love of place by expanding who embodies the ‘echoes of heritage’ in America. The window is now wider for inviting more colorful, just futures.”

Matthew Jordan-Miller Kenyatta
Lecturer in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, and contributor to The Black Geographic: Praxis, Resistance, Futurity

A (sort of) Teacher’s Guide

Amy Cohen learned most of the material covered in Black History in the Philadelphia Landscape through teaching it. This (sort of) Teacher’s Guide is a collection of primary sources, lesson ideas, film clips, web links, discussion prompts and so forth to assist educators in using Cohen’s book in their own classrooms.

Amy Jane Cohen

Amy Cohen is an educator, historian, and writer. After twenty years teaching social studies, she became Director of Education for History Making Productions and is a contributing writer for Hidden City Philadelphia.