Celebrate Black history every day
Historian, scholar, and writer Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week, the precursor to Black History Month, from his rowhouse in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood in 1926. The home, owned by the National Park Service, is currently closed due to COVID (definitely worth a visit when it reopens) but you can pay a visit to the Carter G. Woodson Memorial located at 9th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, NW, which is a couple of blocks from his house.
We've put together several other ways to celebrate Black History Month this February and beyond. We've got recommendations for deep discussions and black love book clubs, walking tours and cultural breaks, and more.
CHECK OUT THE PUBLIC LIBRARY. Besides the books, of course, the DC Public Library hosts numerous events about Black history and heroes throughout the year. And when visiting the MLK Jr library in downtown DC, be sure to head up to the 4th floor to explore the People's Archive which presents memorabilia about the history of Go-Go music and the Black Studies Collection.
SUPPORT BLACK BOOKSTORES: Skip Amazon and buy the newest titles by Youth Poet Laureate Amana Gorman, President Obama, Cicely Tyson (RIP) and others from local Black-owned bookstores like Mahogany Books and Sankofa.
TRY THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD EXPERIENCE: The Underground Railroad Experience at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park was created to provide more pedestrian trails in the community and enable visitors to “reflect upon the isolation and danger for an escaped slave navigating such expanses of open land to freedom. The hike starts at the historic Woodlawn Manor, an old plantation whose owners were kicked out of the Quaker church for refusing to free their slaves. In the "times before COVID," visitors would be led along the trail by an interpretative guide. Currently, the trail is self-guided with a downloadable map that points out landmarks and details about what slaves would have encountered. Even though there is no documented evidence that Woodlawn Manor’s property, owners or buildings were involved in the 19th century Underground Railroad," this is a hugely impactful experience; we highly recommend it.
VISIT PLACES THAT HONOR MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: Although Rev Martin Luther King is memorialized on the National Mall and is indelibly associated to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, there are a number of other places in DC where he left his mark. In honor of Dr. King's, on the 53rd anniversary of his assassination, we've put together a list of 10 places in Washington to reflect on his life and legacy. (Any time; Free)
WALK IN THE STEPS OF VEEP KAMALA HARRIS: Take a self-guided walking tour of Howard University, also known as the "Black Harvard," one of the country’s most prominent historically black institutions and the alma mater of Kamala Harris, the country's first Black Vice President. (Any time; Free)
TAKE A WALKING TOUR OF LOCAL AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY: From Benjamin Banneker's essential role in the survey of the District, to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Cultural Tourism DC's African American Heritage Trail identifies more than 200 sites that are important in local and national African-American history and culture. (Any time; Free)
LEARN ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE CIVIL WAR: The African American Civil War Memorial Museum consists of a memorial and a museum that commemorate the service of 209,145 African-American soldiers and about 7,000 white and 2,145 Hispanic soldiers, amounting to nearly 220,000, plus the approximate 20,000 unsegregated Navy sailors who fought for the Union in the American Civil War, mostly among the 175 regiments of United States Colored Troops (USCT). The memorial includes a 9-foot statue and a walking area with curved panel short walls inscribed with the names of the men who served in the war. The museum is currently open by appointment; the memorial can be visited at any time.
SPEND THE DAY ON BLACK BROADWAY: During the years of segregation, U Street was Washington's "Black Broadway" and the heart of African American business and culture. Located near the famed Howard University, the neighborhood was home to Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington. Its theaters and clubs hosted the brightest lights in American jazz — Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey, Sarah Vaughn, and Jelly Roll Morton, to name a few. Take a stroll experience the murals, food, history and character in the neighborhood. (Any time; Free)
TASTE THE CULTURE: DC's rich African-American heritage is increasing infusing the city's culinary scene with a thriving community of Black-owned restaurants and bars. Savor all the stellar dishes and support local restaurants across the city. Review Washington.org's list of 20 Black chefs and Black-owned restaurants or use the EatOkra app to make it even easier to find and support Black-owned restaurants in DC. (Any time; prices will vary)
Curious? There's more!
Look up, down, and all around. Adventures can be found everywhere -- if you're curious enough to look. k for it