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 tours and exhibits, story time sessions, and more will be enlightening and fun for all ages. Here’s where they’re 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. (This was #1 in my Top 16 of 2016… and now that I’ve taken the kids, will be doing a write-up about it very soon!) It’s a tough ticket to get right now — museum admission is still 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.
African American Pioneers in Aviation and Space
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: February 11
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.
Slave Life Tour
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Daily through February, 11:30am
Admission: $20/adult, $10/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under (+ $4/exhibit)
Tack this on to a visit to George Washington’s estate. The 60-minute guided walking tour highlights the lives and contributions of the enslaved community who built and operated Mount Vernon. In 1799, more than 300 slaves lived and worked on the five farms that made up Washington’s 8,000-acre plantation. Listen to their stories and learn more about their daily life at Mount Vernon. Visit the refurbished slave quarters and view reproduction clothing, tools, furniture, cookware, ceramics, toys, and personal accessories that represent their experiences.
Celebrate Frederick Douglass’ Birthday
Where: Frederick Douglass Historic Site
When: February 18-19; Ongoing
Admission: Free ($1.50/house tour)
Celebrate the 199th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth with the National Park Service and its community partners. The estate in Anacostia where Douglass lived for nearly the last 20 years of his life is now a historic site that welcomes the public to tour, and every year they host a birthday event in his honor. This year’s programs and activities explore the significance of the visual, performing, and culinary arts in Frederick Douglass’s life. You can also go other times — the grounds are always open to visitors, though you need to make reservations to tour the house.
African-Americans at Walney Walking Tour
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park
When: February 11, 11am & February 19, 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. Sign up for Feb. 11 here and Feb. 19 here.
Portrait Story Days
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Most Saturdays, 1-4pm & Sundays, 2-5pm
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.
Civil Rights at 50
When: Through January 2, 2018
Admission: $24.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-18, free for 6 and under (look for a discount)
This new 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.
Jim Crow on Streetcars
Where: National Trolley Museum
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.
Celebration: Black History Month 2017
Where: PG County Parks
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 plenty of exciting events and activities planned throughout the area. For a complete listing of Black History Month events, go here.
Montgomery Parks Celebrates Black History Month
Where: Josiah Henson Park
When: February 25 & 26
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.”
Where: Local movie theaters
Admission: Varies by theater
Playing in theaters now, this film that tells the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program is inspiring and a perfect movie pick during Black History Month. Common Sense Media says it’s appropriate for ages 10 and up, but I’d say kids a little younger could watch it, too.