Part two of two
The time you're near the Howard Theatre, be sure to look down or you'll miss an important part of DC's history.
Black icons with a connection to the theatre have been commemorated in Howard Theatre's Walk of Fame, a series of bronze medallions that embellish the sidewalk between the Shaw-Howard Metro Station and the historic venue. The promenade is like D.C.’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, You'll find names like Marvin Gaye, Chuck Brown, Moms Mabley and Ella Fitzgerald. The icons were chosen by the city for their connection to the Howard Theatre’s history.
Howard's Walk of Fame is actually the second one you'll find in downtown DC, so take that Hollywood!
The Howard Walk of Fame is a relatively new addition. The idea was first conceived in 2008, but the work wasn't completed until 2019. While the theatre itself is an iconic part of Black Broadway, the names of many of the performers have been lost to time.
The project is the result of a partnership with the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development and Cultural Tourism DC, a nonprofit that promotes the arts across the District. (They’re the ones behind those neighborhood heritage trails.)
This tribute is a great way to include them in that story and inspire historical dialogue.
The individual tributes are depicted in bronze medallions, as a nod to the metal’s traditional use in West African art. There are 15 medallions in total; they represent an array of talents and genres. and many of them, like Marvin Gaye, Moms Mabley, and Chuck Brown were DC natives. The pieces draw design elements from the architecture of the Howard Theatre itself, including the braided arch and banner on the building’s sign, and the block frame around the marquee.
The medallions are the work of lead sculptor Jay Coleman. From his mural at Dupont Underground to his large-scale mural of Marion Barry in Historic Anacostia overlooking I-295, and his first large-scale sculptural work, titled “Communessity" at Barry Farm Recreation Center, Coleman has left his mark all over town.
The commemorative medallions are arranged rough chronological order, so the artists are more contemporary as you get closer to the Theatre, so start near the entrance of the Howard–Shaw metro stop on 7th Street NW and walk to T Street, ending in front of the Howard Theatre’s entrance.
If you can't quite place a name, you don't have to ask Alexa. The medallions are book-ended by upright signs that detail the history of the theater and the artists represented.
To enhance your experience, we've curated a special playlist featuring all of the "Walk of Fame" artists to accompany your walk. Listen to it here: Howard Theatre Walk of Fame playlist
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