Community Exhibitions Highlight African American Achievements

The District Celebrates Black History Month

Various events and programs hosted by institutions around the area are acknowledging the contributions of African Americans in the United States during Black History Month.

Through a series of events, presentations and exhibits, institutions like the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, the Anacostia Community Museum and the African-American Civil War Museum are trying to spread awareness of the accomplishments of African Americans.

“On the eve of the presidential election, we have a black presidential candidate with a high chance of winning,” said Frank Smith, chairman of the African-American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation. “I think that it is important to take the time to remember those who even made this possible.”

Throughout the month, Smith will be conducting presentations on notable black figures and on Feb. 6 he will facilitate a discussion on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.

As the first and only national museum for United States black troops in the Civil War, the museum offers photographs, documents and audio equipment to educate visitors about the importance of the Civil War in American history.

The Anacostia Community Museum, is the Smithsonian Institution’s museum of African-American history and culture. The museum is located in southeast Washington, D.C. and offers exhibitions, educational programs, workshops, lectures, film screenings and other special events to interpret black history dating back to the 1800s.

The museum will be hosting a program on Feb. 13 to explore the actions leading to the formation of the Anacostia museum. On Feb. 23, the museum will also host its “Tour of the East of the River: Continuity and Change” exhibition which takes a closer look at the community life of neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.

“Anacostia is largely a black community,” said Marcia Burris of the media relations department for the Anacostia Community Museum. “The exhibition talks about all of the communities east of the river that are predominantly African American, and it looks at the evolution of these communities from Native American involvement to African American influence. During that time the museum was founded. This museum was placed here so that underrepresented individuals could enjoy the offerings of the Smithsonian.”

The newest museum, located at 1025 F St., is an exciting attraction that brings historical figures and events to life through wax figures that visitors can touch, see and hear. Madame Tussauds is a world renowned wax museum that offers an array of interactive exhibits. For Black History Month, the museum has created an interactive discovery trail where visitors receive a map corresponding to different black figures.

“When you go through the attraction, you become a part of the experience,” said Shameka Lloyd, marketing and sales manager at Madame Tussauds. “We designed the discovery trail specifically for Black History Month. It’s educational, but also very entertaining.”

The museum is designed to allow individuals to feel as though they were at a historical event. At one exhibit, a person may choose to sit next to a waxed Rosa Parks on a replication of a bus and hear the actual dialogue between Parks and an officer. Another exhibit allows a person to putt with Tiger Woods.

“We wanted to make the exhibit full sensory so that people have the opportunity to hear, touch and be a part of history. It is a self-guided tour, and there is nothing roped off or behind a glass case,” Lloyd said.

Thousands of dollars go into the creation of each of the waxed figures, and it can take up to six months to make each one.

The museum is opened on major holidays, and admission is $25 for adults.