February is Black History Month, and there are events and activities throughout the DC area to celebrate it. Museum programs (including an entire museum), special events, tours and exhibits, live entertainment, story time sessions, and more will be enlightening and fun for all ages. Here’s where many are happening over the next few weeks.
Tour the NMAAHC
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
If you can get in, this is the best place to learn about black history and culture in America. It’s a tough ticket to get right now — museum admission is by timed entry passes — but it is possible to get same-day tickets. They are available online everyday starting at 6:30am until they run out. And you can also try for walk-up tickets on weekdays after 1pm. Be sure to read the KFDC Guide to Visiting the National Museum of African American History & Culture with Kids before you go.
Where: Public Libraries throughout DC
When: Throughout February
The DC Public Library proudly celebrates Black History Month during February with all kinds of programs — author talks, lectures, arts & crafts, and story times. Visit the website to see what activities are going on at a location near you.
How Old is a Hero?
Where: Discovery Theatre | National Mall
When: February 6-9
Everyone can make a difference! This Discovery Theater original play infused with archival music of the Civil Rights era celebrates three young people who helped change the nation by their heroic actions. Meet Ernest Green of the Little Rock Nine, the first black student to graduate from an integrated high school; Claudette Colvin, who months before Rosa Parks, also refused to give up her seat on a bus; and Ruby Bridges, who was only six in 1960 when she stepped into first grade—and into history—as the first student to desegregate an all-white school in New Orleans. Their inspiring stories demonstrate that hope begins with the courage of young people.
African American Pioneers in Aviation and Space
Where: Udvar-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: February 10
Each February, the museum celebrates the significant contributions African Americans have made to flight and space exploration despite the overwhelming obstacles they had to overcome. Enjoy presentations, hands-on activities, and stories. Learn about African American astronauts, pilots, and scientists of the past and present and their accomplishments.
Portrait Story Days
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Most Saturdays & Sundays, 1-4pm
Drop in to the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story from friends at the DC Public Library about a notable person featured in the collection and complete a hands-on art project. All through February, the program highlights black Americans in honor of Black History Month. Read more about the program and museum here.
The Slave Memorial & Exhibits
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Throughout February
Admission: $20/adult, $12/ages 6-11, free/5 & under
Make a point to see these on a visit to George Washington’s estate. The memorial is located approximately 50 yards southwest of George and Martha Washington’s tomb, on a bluff above the Potomac River. A gray, truncated, granite column which represents “life unfinished” is the center of three concentric brick circles. The three steps leading up to the column are inscribed, respectively, “Faith,” “Hope” and “Love” – the virtues that sustained those living in bondage. The exhibit Lives Bound Together explores the personal stories of the people enslaved at Mount Vernon while providing insight into George Washington’s evolving opposition to slavery.
Jim Crow on Streetcars
Where: National Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: Through February, Saturdays & Sundays, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $7/adult, $5/child
In recognition of Black History Month, the Museum presents this temporary exhibit. Learn about the nature of segregation aboard the cars in 19th century New York, the efforts to black the practice as it developed across the South, and the eventual success in opening employment opportunities.
Frederick Douglass’s Bicentennial Birthday Celebration
Where: Frederick Douglass Historic Site | Anascostia , DC
When: February 17-18
Celebrate 200 years of the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass! February 2018 makes it 200 years since Frederick Douglass was born into this world. Join the National Park Service for a grand commemorative weekend with a variety of programs for all ages. See the website for specifics.
Emancipation Proclamation Viewing + Family Activities
Where: National Archives | National Mall, DC
When: February 17-19
In celebration of Black History Month, the Emancipation Proclamation will be on display at the National Archives, a rare opportunity to see the original document proclaiming the freedom of all slaves held in areas still in revolt. On February 17, stop by the ReSource Room before or after viewing it to learn more about it through hands-on discovery.
Where: Discovery Theatre | National Mall, DC
When: February 20-23
Score a home run with a spirit-rousing musical play about the “other” major league! This updated hit from nationally recognized arts leader Michael Bobbitt and tunesmith John Cornelius chronicles the struggles and triumphs of pioneering African American baseball players. The all-star lineup of heroes includes Moses “Fleet” Walker, who became the game’s first black pro in the 1880s; Andrew “Rube” Foster, hailed as the father of black baseball; power hitter Josh “Spitfire” Gibson; athlete-philosopher Satchel Paige; and young Jackie Robinson, who first integrated the major leagues. You’ll stand up and cheer for the players who made sports history—and American history, too!
African-Americans at Walney Walking Tour
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park | Chantilly, VA
When: February 24, 2pm
In this interactive walking tour, learn the names and stories of the many African-American families who lived here in slavery and in freedom. The one-hour program is recommended for ages 6 and up. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult.
1968: Civil Rights at 50
Where: Newseum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: Through January 2, 2019
Admission: $24.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-18, free for 6 and under (look for a discount)
This exhibit explores the civil rights events of 1967, when black Americans used their First Amendment freedoms to challenge police brutality, economic inequality and the Vietnam War amid deadly riots and the rise of the Black Panther Party. This exhibit is probably better for older kids.
Celebration: Black History Month 2018
Where: Parks in PG County, MD
When: Throughout February
Admission: Varies by activity
Celebrate and honor African American heritage during Black History Month with PG County Parks and Recreation. From performances to history lessons to tours, there are many events and activities planned throughout the area. For a complete listing of Black History Month events, go here.
Storytelling & Walking Tour
Where: Woodlawn Manor Park | Sandy Spring, MD
When: February 10 & 24
Montgomery Parks presents these activities for Black History Month. On February 10, experience African American culture through hands-on activities and storytelling with master storyteller and griot, the Honorable Baba-C. On February 24, learn about the daily life of the enslaved and how the abolitionist movement and Underground Railroad drove the quest for freedom on a walking tour. Register for both in advance.
Montgomery Parks Celebrates Black History Month
Where: Josiah Henson Park | North Bethesda, MD
When: Several dates in February
Montgomery Parks will celebrate Black History Month during the last weekend in February with free, educational events that highlight the stories, struggles, and successes of African Americans. Events include free guided tours of the park, the screening of a PBS documentary about the park, and the annual spoken word poetry event, “Lyrical Rhythms: The Sounds of Freedom.”
Frederick Douglass on Display
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Through April 12
The Library of Congress currently has a display dedicated to Frederick Douglass in celebration of Black History Month and the bicentennial of his birth. Find it in the North Gallery with the Mapping a Growing Nation exhibition. Letters, photos, and more historical items are on view.
Where: Blind Whino | Southwest DC
When: Saturdays & Sundays through March 13
The well known multi-colored building in Southwest DC is home to the SW Arts Collective, and the Arts Annex is open to visitors on weekends from 12-5pm. In celebration of Black History Month, a new installation entitled #BlackFutures will be on display, featuring works by artists David Elliott, Chanel Kennebrew, and Alissa Maru.