African American history and culture are an important part of the DMV’s identity and there are numerous ways to celebrate Black History Month in the area. You’ll find a myriad of events being hosted by our county library systems, by city and county rec departments and community centers, and many more. Below are some of the best ways to engage with African American culture, community and history with your children and teens.
- Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture invites you, at any time, to visit their website and physical spaces that hold artworks and resources aplenty to take a deep dive into the presence and impact of African American artists on our world. In honor of Black History Month, here are a few favorite videos of artists speaking about their life, work and inspiration.
- Children’s Black History Month Book Sale and Boutique February 10th and 24th. Featuring used books by authors including Vashti Harrison, Matt de la Peña, and Dan Santat, find titles that feature important figures in Black history and main characters of color. These books have been loved and are sure to be a favorite for your little ones. Books for sale for as little as $1! You may also find other crafts, attire, etc. to treasure.
- Frederick Douglass Birthday Celebration February 10th, 2 p.m. (doors open early at 12:30 p.m.), THEARC. Celebrate the life and legacy of activist, orator, and statesman Frederick Douglass! Join Washington Revels Jubilee Voices at the Opening Ceremonies for this annual program celebrating the “Lion of Anacostia,” Frederick Douglass. The celebration includes music by the Jubilee Voices and a performance by students from the Washington Ballet School from THEARC. Learn about the many facets of Frederick Douglass through a lively, interactive Jeopardy-style game about Douglass’s life. Frederick Douglass Oratorical Contest winners will also present their recitations of Douglass’s most famous speeches! The program, highlighting African Americans and the Arts, also includes a special panel presentation about the upcoming Broadway musical about Frederick Douglass, Reservations not required.
- Living the Dream … Singing the Dream, A Choral Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This must-see-and-hear annual highlight of local Black History Month celebrations will be Sunday, February 18th, 7 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C. The combined Men, Women and Children of the Gospel Choirs of Washington Performing Arts and the Choral Arts Chorus raise their voices in tribute both to Dr. King’s achievements and to his ongoing, indelible impact. Through song, inspirational stories and special tributes by community leaders, Living the Dream … Singing the Dream unites all who honor Dr. King’s ideals.
- Family Funday: Story Time with Black Children’s Book Authors February 25th, 2024, 12-3 p.m. at metrobar2. metrobar invites all families to come for a Black History Month storytelling event featuring local Black children’s book authors. Books will also be available for purchase. Reservations are $5 and good for the entire family! Reserve your spot.
- The Enslaved People of Mount Vernon Tour, daily from February-March at 11:30 a.m at the Mansion Circle at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon. Listen to the stories of the enslaved people who built and operated Mount Vernon, and learn about their daily lives on the estate during this 60-minute tour.
- Courageous Journey: Alexandria’s Black History Driving Tour. Use this nine-site driving tour to start exploring the African American history that shaped Alexandria and the United States, from D.C.’s onetime southern cornerstone laid by self-taught mathematician Benjamin Banneker to the site of one of the nation’s earliest sit-in protests and more. Find parking information for each site so you can linger where you feel moved.
- Alexandria’s Black History Tours, every weekend from February through December. Join Manumission Tour Company to travel the streets of historic Old Town Alexandria and hear the little-known stories of Africans and African Americans, both enslaved and freemen, at a time when Alexandria, Va. was one of early American’s main centers for the international and domestic slave trade.
- Black History Month Scavenger Hunt February 1st-16th, 2024, Ashburn Library. Learn about American history-makers by reading their biographies hidden around the children’s department. Find all 10 for a small prize! Loudoun County Public Library Black History Month celebration.
- Family Storytime for Black History Month, Loudoun County Public Library Saturday, February 3rd, 2024, 10-10:45am, Sterling Library. Black History Month celebration with stories, songs and local author Zoie Seay reading her book, What If My Hair Had Feet.
- Ribbon Cutting: African American Heritage Trail Signs. Saturday, February 10th, 2024. The African American Heritage Trail invites the public to join in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the installation of new interpretive signs along Alexandria’s historic waterfront. These 11 signs and two orientation panels illuminate the history of the African American community in Alexandria over the span of several centuries. The event will begin at 11 a.m. at the new Fishtown sign on the riverside of Founder’s Park, 351 N. Union Street. A reception following the ribbon cutting will be held in the Overlook Room (#325) on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union Street.
- Washington Revels Jubilee Voices Concert Sunday, February 18th, 2024, 2-3 p.m. at Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum. An exploration of the Gullah-Geechee culture and life in St Simons Island, Georgia. Wade in the Water is a multimedia program that blends songs and stories of the Gullah Geechee community and features six student films that capture the history, lives and spirit of these proud people. Register for free tickets.
- Taking Center Stage: Black Musicians and Prince George’s County Music Venues from the Chitlin’ Circuit to the Present Opening Reception: Sunday, February 4th, 2024, 2-5 PM (RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org). Exhibition Dates: Saturday, January 27-Sunday, March 31st, 2024. During the era of Jim Crow in the United States, Black musicians were regularly excluded from performance venues that catered to white audiences. Thus, the “chitlin’ circuit” was born: a network of urban and rural performance venues of various types and sizes, including some owned and operated by African Americans, that provided a critical space for Black musicians and other performers to share and hone their talents. With the breakdown of racial barriers and ascendancy of Black popular musicians in the 1960s, the number of musical venues open to Black musicians expanded. Taking Center Stage explores the history of these musical venues in Prince George’s County, detailing the changing musical landscape for Black musicians in the county from the 20th to 21st centuries.
- Empowering the Game: Gymnastics Edition (Virtual) Tuesday February 6th, 2024 PG Parks & Recreation partners with the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System for a Black History Month special event to welcome Khoi Young, a Prince George’s County native who has taken his gymnastic skills to Stanford University and has represented Team USA at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship. Learn more about his journey, accomplishments and barriers that he has overcome to get to where he is now!
- Lift Every Voice: A Letter to the Editor is a play that celebrates the courage and resilience of everyday Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. February 10th, 2024, 11 a.m. at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center at Montgomery College in Rockville, Md. This program offers a pathway to understanding and compassion for young learners. Historical touchstones include the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Little Rock Nine, the Greensboro sit-ins and the Civil Rights Movement. The production resonates with the voice in each of us to fight against injustice. Recommended for ages 8 and up.
- City of Laurel Black History Month Program Saturday, February 10th, 1-3 p.m. at the Laurel Multiservice Center. The event will feature black-owned businesses, art and music. The celebration is free and open to the public. Come with family and friends. Reserve a spot.
- Soul in Motion: African Drum and Dance Saturday, February 10th, 2-3 p.m. Kensington Park Library. Soul in Motion Dancers and Drummers Company is a local performance troupe who have gained great prominence in the metro area and around the east coast. Their performances are incredibly dynamic and very popular. You may even get to participate! This program is supported by the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County.
- BHM24 Concert Saturday, February 17th, 2024, at 3, 5, and 7:30 p.m. Maryland Youth Ballet, Silver Spring. This year’s concert brings together schools, organizations, and dance companies from throughout the DMV: Ballet Nouveau, Baltimore School for the Arts, Bowie State, Divine Dance Institute, Full Circle Dance Company, Jones-Haywood Dance School, ktm eXtreme dance project, Morton Street Dance, ktm eXtreme dance project, MOVE|NYC|, MYB, Princess Mhoon Dance Institute, University of Maryland (College Park), The VIVA School, The Washington School of Ballet
- MoCo Lore with Janice the Griot Sunday, February 18th, 2024, 3 p.m., Sandy Spring Museum. Janice Curtis Greene, performing as Janice the Griot, will deliver an immersive and engaging family program delving into local history and folklore through the African griot storytelling tradition. She will share stories of regional Black history taken from materials from the museum archives and her own research. The program will also feature folktales connected to Maryland history and traditional African folktales translated to a Maryland setting. During the program she will also lead the audience in games, chants and songs.
- Black History Month Family Day Saturday, February 24th, 2024, and Sunday, February 25th, 2024, 12-4 p.m., Josiah Henson Museum and Park, North Bethesda.Reverend Josiah Henson worked tirelessly throughout his life to advocate for freedom and education. This weekend, come visit the Josiah Henson Museum and Park for educational, hands-on activities that demonstrate what a child’s life was like in Dawn, the settlement he created after taking his family to Canada via the Underground Railroad. The family-friendly event is appropriate for all ages. Free with paid admission to museum and park: $4 for children and seniors, $5 for adults. Register, or tickets available onsite.
- Afternoon Aviators: Black History Month, February 24th, 1 p.m. at the College Park Aviation Museum. Quick, who’s Bessie Coleman? Eugene Bullard? Gus McLeod? If you don’t know, come to the College Park Aviation Museum for this Black History Month special. Explore these fascinating figures; then, create your own medal of honor.
- Black History Live with Culture Queen Sunday, February 25th, 11-11:45 a.m., Germantown Library. Celebrate the Kings and Queens of African-American History with music, movement, and storytelling! “Black History Live with Culture Queen” is a modern-day Josephine Baker-inspired performance that uses live, original and interactive music, movement and storytelling to teach children to celebrate their history and love themselves. With a spoonful of magic and ancient wisdom, the queen’s soulful alto’s voice dances across a fusion of festive calypso, afrobeat, jazz and hip-hop rhythms that celebrate the Kings and Queens of African-American History. Sponsored by Friends of the Library, Montgomery County.
- Songs of Freedom with Linda Harris and Main Street Blues, Sunday, February 25th, 2024, 2-3 p.m.,Wheaton Library. Follow on a musical evolution to freedom, from the “code songs” of the Underground Railroad to spirituals to blues to jazz and R&B. This performance by Linda Harris and her four-piece band honors the code songs used on the clandestine journey along the Underground Railroad by Harriet Tubman and the Freedom Seekers in 1849. They’ve performed versions of the presentation at venues including the National Museum of African-American History, Morgan State University, the mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, MetroStage, among many others. Linda Harris is Director of Events and Programs at the Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center in Cambridge, MD.