Best Ways To Celebrate Black History Month 2013 In The Washington DC Area

February 4, 2013 8:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

This year’s Black History Month is particularly significant because. 2013 marks big anniversaries of two historic events: the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed on January 1st, 1863 and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, held on August 28th, 1963. Black History Month celebrates the vastness and variety of African American influences in American arts and culture and February 2013 brings D.C. a multitude of programs and events for celebrating African American accomplishments.  From music, to art, to storytelling, to history, these events cover a small portion of the diversity and abundance of African American culture.  With events specialized to meet the different interests and expectations of children, families and adults, D.C.’s citizens can explore Black History throughout February. Recognizing that Black History spans history from the inception of the U.S. to the present-day accomplishments of African Americans, these events promote a deeper understanding of the bountiful culture of African Americans.

An Evening With Branford Marsalis
Clarice Smith Center of the Performing Arts
Stadium Drive
College Park, MD
College Park, MD 20742
(301) 405-2787

Hours: Feb. 15 – 8 pm

Black History Month provides opportunities to explore the widespread influences of African Americans in musical culture.  The Clarice Smith Center of the Performing Arts combines the Black History Month exposure of African American musicians with their own dedication to supporting the arts in “An Evening with Branford Marsalis.” Marsalis is a three-time Grammy award winning musician and composer with musical interests as diverse as African American musical influences, including jazz, blues, funk and new intersections between modern and classical style tunes. Marsalis’ label “Marsalis Music” continues to grow his influence and presence in American music culture. This event is a rare opportunity to witness the incredible musical talents of an exceptional African American musician. Appropriate for adults.

Diane Macklin’s Succotash Tales
S. Dillon Ripley Center
Discovery Theater
1100 Jefferson Drive SW
Washington, DC 20560
(202) 633-3030
Hours: Feb. 13 – 10:15 a.m.

Celebrating the rich oral histories of the African American griot, Diane Macklin brings trickster tales and folklore to life with her vibrant voice and dynamic hand movements.  Children will be captivated by the momentum and excitement Macklin brings to storytelling.  In the content of her stories and her dedication to the griot tradition Macklin delights in the beauty and soul of African American storytelling tradition.  This event brings children and families closer to the heart of African American tradition and history.  Equally entertaining and educational, Diane Macklin’s “Succotash Tales” highlights the plentiful diversity of African American culture in celebration of Black History Month. Appropriate for children and families.

Frederick Douglass’ Birthday Celebration
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
1411 W St. SE
Washington, DC 20020
(202) 426-5961

Hours: Feb. 9 – 10 a..m. to 3 p.m.

A widely celebrated African American hero, Frederick Douglass’ position in black history signifies the work of a social reformer, public speaker and courageous abolitionist.  As a slave, Douglass taught other slaves to read; later, when he had escaped slavery, he maintained his commitment to literacy, writing memoirs and accounts of slave and freed life. He gained a worldly perspective in his European travels and, upon returning to the states, became the most recognized black orator of his time. Douglass’ home is now a National Historic Site.  2013 marks the 195th birthday of Frederick Douglass and the National Park Service will commemorate the occasion with a birthday celebration for all ages. Focusing on Douglass’ work throughout the Civil War – his abolitionist efforts, orations and his unrelenting fight for justice – the National Park Service brings Douglass’ time period to life with period music and reenactments. The celebration includes special activities just for children and lectures for maturer audiences.  Appropriate for children, families and adults.

Black History Month Lunch Cruise
Spirit of Washington

Pier 4 at 6th & Water Streets SW
Washington, DC 20042
‎(866) 302-2469

Hours: Feb. 23 – 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Celebrating African American music history from Duke Ellington to Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, this lunchtime cruise combines live performance, music and great food. Patrons will be entertained by the mixing of musical genres from jazz to R&B to pop. The DJ’s musical mixing will pay homage to important black musicians of the past whose talents paved the way for today’s contemporary music styles. Since DC was home to the likes Duke Ellington and Marvin Gaye this musical throwback will be particularly important to area residents.

Jazz: A Dialogue In The Performing And Visual Arts
David C. Driskell Center
University Of Maryland
1214 Union Drive
College Park, MD 20742
(301) 314-2615

Feb. 14 to Feb. 15 – Event times vary.

From the Harlem Renaissance to the present day music industry, jazz has played a significant role in African American culture.  Visual artists and performers alike have presented the history and culture of jazz in painting, printmaking, sculpture and in a diverse array of musical variations.  The David C. Driskell Center: For the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora in partnership with the University of Maryland University College presents a conference to explore the relationship of jazz and African American history and culture.  With topics ranging from literature to visual arts, performance art, music, dance, film and poetry, the conference will discuss the vastness of jazz’s place in African American culture. Black History Month is the perfect backdrop for such a discussion.

Related: Black History Month: A Visit To The Smithsonian National Museum Of African American History And Culture

Kayleigh Bryant is a D.C. native, traveler, foodie, artist and frequent museum visitor. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History. Her work can be found on

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