From Hip-Hop to Sit-Ins

D.C. Celebrates Black History Month With a Range of Events

In a city where Duke Ellington spent his early life, Frederick Douglass called home later in life and singer Marian Anderson performed before a crowd of 75,000 in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington’s black history and heritage is undeniable.

In the early parts of the 1800s, long before Lincoln signed into law the order that ultimately ended slavery, slaves and free blacks lived in the District. Even before LeDroit Park became the home to many professional blacks, a free black by the name of Yarrow Mamout acquired wealth through his work as a hauler and bought a house in Georgetown becoming one of its earliest residents.

February is Black History Month, and the city is continuing its tradition of celebrating black pioneers who paved the way for future generations with a series of events.

The Town Hall Education Arts and Recreation Campus, or THEARC, will be hosting an animatron of Frederick Douglass until Feb. 5. Douglass will be set in a replica of his study at his Anacostia home. The program called “Living History with Frederick Douglass” will allow Douglass to answer up to 55 preprogrammed questions from audience members. Tomorrow, there will be programs for middle school students, and on Thursday the program will be open to high school students. Admission is $3. Visit the Web site, http://www.thearcc.com, for details or call 202-4-THEARC to register.

Madame Tussaud’s has interactive exhibit that features more than a dozen prominent black figures including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and President Obama. In addition, each guest will receive a “Discovery Trail Guide,” which will allow them to answer questions and learn fun facts about how each person contributed to civil rights. The exhibit will run until Feb. 28. For more information and admission prices, click onto http://www.madametussauds.com.

Christon “Christylez” Bacon, a hip-hop artist and native Washingtonian, will hold a free performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in conjunction with the National Museum for African American History and Culture on Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. Check the Web site, http://www.kennedy-center.org, for additional information. On her Web site, http://www.christylez.com, Bacon states that the concert will feature a 12-piece orchestra including string quartet, piano, upright bass and tuba.

In addition, the African American History and Culture museum will be conducting a staged training session for the 1960s student-led sit-in that occurred at a Greensboro, N.C., lunch counter to oppose discrimination at those establishments. The event will occur on the second level of the Smithsonian’s American History Museum at a portion of the actual lunch counter where the demonstrations took place. Dates and times vary so visit the Web site, http://www.smithsonianeducation.org, for more information.

The National Archives is hosting a few events in honor of Black History Month. Harvard professor and author Henry Louis Gates Jr. will be discussing genealogy and his findings regarding the his ancestry and the ancestry of other prominent blacks including Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Don Cheadle, Chris Tucker and Morgan Freeman. This will be held at the William G. McGowan Theater on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.

Douglas R. Egerton, author and history professor at LeMoyne College, will talk about his book, “Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America,” at noon Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the National Archives. The book chronicles black history from 1763, before the start of the Revolutionary War, to the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800. For more information about these and other events, visit the National Archives Web site, http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2009/nr09-33.html.

On Feb. 11, the African American Civil War Memorial will host an event called “Lincoln’s Legal Loyal League: African Descent Spies of the Rebellion.” This event will feature a lecture discussing the role some blacks played during the Civil War as spies for the Union. The event will be from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Lankford Room at the True Reformer Building on U Street. For more information, visit http://afroamcivilwar.org/old/programs/lectures.html.