There are notable educational and enriching Black History Month (BHM) events in February throughout the Metropolitan DC area, from Northern Virginia to Suburban Maryland.
Examiner has culled the top ten most accessible BMH events for recommendation. These top ten Black History Month events are all free, open to the public, hyper-local, and therefore easily accessible by public transportation.
- The African American Civil War Memorial
The African American Civil War Memorial (AACWM) Freedom Foundation was incorporated in 1992 to tell the largely unknown story of the United States Colored Troops (USCT). As a tribute to these soldiers, the African American Civil War Memorial was dedicated in 1998 under the leadership of Dr. Frank Smith, Jr.
The sculpture across from the Museum at 1925 Vermont Ave, NW, portrays uniformed soldiers and a sailor at a height of ten feet with a family depicted on the back of the sculpture, and is situated in the center of a granite-paved plaza, encircled on three sides by the Wall of Honor. The wall lists the names of 209,145 USCT drawn from the official records of the Bureau of United States Colored Troops at the National Archives, on 166 burnished stainless steel plaques arranged by regiment.
- The African-American Civil War Museum
Feb. 1: ‘Adding a Powerful Ally: How the Emancipation Proclamation Changed the Civil War,’ lecture, 7 p.m. In this presentation Curator Hari Jones will explore President Lincoln’s policies and the contributions of African Americans to the Union military.
Feb. 2: ‘First Saturday Descendants’ Day’ presentations in the AACWM Auditorium at 11 a.m. Explore the story of African Americans in the Civil War through the eyes of their descendants as they share about their ancestor and research process.
- Smithsonian Black History Month Family Day Celebration
Saturday, Feb. 2, at the American History Museum, the Smithsonian Institute kicks off its celebration of Black History Month with a day of music and drama performances, arts and craft activities and other BHM-themed activities. Check out all the Smithsonian educator resources, including enriching events and the Smithsonian Magazine online.
- Online conference: ‘Oh Freedom!’
From the Smithsonian Museum of African-American Art exhibit, “‘Oh, Freedom!’, Teaching African-American Civil Rights through Smithsonian Collections.” Explore Civil Rights and Smithsonian collections with curators, experts, and educators in live presentations, demonstrations, and moderated forums. Register now to participate live on Wednesday, Feb. 6 or to view the archived conference sessions later.
- ‘Harriet Tubman: The Chosen One’
THEARC Theater presents two free performances in honor of Black History Month
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. and from 1:00-2:00 p.m. at THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Ave., SE Washington, DC. The 45-minute shows will be performed by Gwendolyn Briley-Strand, who will transform into more than a dozen different characters while taking the audience on one of the nineteen journeys Harriet Tubman traveled through the Underground Railroad.
Ms. Strand is an expert on the life of Harriet Tubman and has performed this play since 1993 in many schools, universities and organizations throughout the United States. Attendance is free but requires an RSVP.
- Martin Luther King National Memorial
The National Memorial honors the life and contributions made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘Ranger Talks’ are given regularly and highlight historic facts about the civil rights leader. The large site is adjacent to the tidal basin, surrounded by thoughtful landscaping.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is located on the northwest corner of the Tidal Basin at the intersection of West Basin Drive, SW and Independence Avenue, SW. Entrances to the Memorial site are located at Independence Avenue, SW, west of West Basin Drive; Independence Avenue, at Daniel French Drive; Ohio Drive, SW, south of the Ericsson Statue; and Ohio Drive, at West Basin Drive. Parking is extremely limited in the area, so the best way to get to the Memorial is by public transportation. The closest metro stations are Smithsonian and Foggy Bottom. See map, above left.
- National Archives
Celebrate Black History Month in February with special films, public programs, and lectures. These programs are open to the public and will be held at the National Archives Building on Constitution Ave. between 7th and 9th Streets, NW.
- DC Public Library
Throughout the month of February, and throughout the city, the DC Public Library offers special programs celebrating Black History Month. Programs include art exhibits, jazz concerts, book discussions, theatrical workshops and much more. Check for local branch programs online.
- Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
“I will unite with any one to do right, and with no one to do wrong!”
Walk the halls of Cedar Hill, home of the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. At 1411 W St. SE, Washington, DC, free tours of the historic home are available daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For the home-bound:
- Take a free African-American cultural heritage tour online.
- George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate
While neither conveniently located nor free of charge, all of their special BHM events are included in the regular admission price to the estate. Admission varies by age.
Throughout the month of February, Mount Vernon will honor the slaves who lived and worked at George Washington’s estate with a daily 12 p.m. wreath laying ceremony at the Slave Memorial.
On Saturdays and Sundays in February, visitors learn about life as a slave with actors recreating ‘Silla’ and ‘Slammin’ Joe,’ two of Washington’s slaves, at the recently-opened Slave Cabin.
‘Tom Davis,’ an enslaved brick maker, presents his perspective on Saturdays and Sundays in the greenhouse at 2:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. ‘The Marquis de Lafayette’ talks about his efforts to end slavery in the Greenhouse on Sundays at 3:00 p.m.