Celebrate Black History Month at the Smithsonian Museums

The Smithsonian invites the public to celebrate Black History Month in February through a series of vibrant performances, lectures, family activities and exhibitions at various museums around the Institution. All programs are free unless otherwise indicated.SI-f5xccl2

Feature Event

March!, the Smithsonian’s kickoff celebration of Black History Month, will be a Family Day hosted by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Saturday, Feb. 6, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visitors are invited to take part in a series of guided family activities focused on the history of the civil rights movement in the National Museum of American History. Between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Shane Evans will discuss and give a musical performance based on his children’s book We March. Congressman John Lewis will discuss his award-winning graphic novel trilogy March, based on his experiences as a young leader of the movement from 2–4:30 p.m. in the museum’s Warner Bros. Theater. Although free, registration for the discussion is strongly encouraged, though walk-ins will be welcome. Visit www.NMAAHC.si.edu for more details.


The Anacostia Community Museum will host discussions with Patsy Fletcher, author of Historically African American Leisure Destinations, Saturday, Feb. 6, at 2 p.m., and with Keith Clark, author of The Radical Fiction of Ann Petry, Sunday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m., Information and registration are available at www.anacostia.si.edu or 202-633-4844.

Daniel Black will sit down with Gregory Carr, professor of African American studies at Howard University, to discuss Black’s third novel, The Coming, in the National Museum of the American Indian’s Ramuson Theater, Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. Books will be available for signing. The lecture is free, but registration is strongly encouraged. For more details, visit www.NMAAHC.si.edu.


The National Museum of African American History and Culture will present a special screening of Ashes and Embers, by acclaimed film director Haile Gerima at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, Saturday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. The film follows an African American Vietnam veteran as he grapples with his turbulent past and as he tries to make a future for himself. The film played at the Berlin International Festival in 1983, where Gerima won the Fispresci Prize for new cinema. On the occasion of its restoration and re-release, the director is joined for a screening and discussion with Academy Award-nominated director Ava DuVernay. The program is free, but reservations are strongly suggested. Visit www.NMAAHC.si.edu for registration details.

The Anacostia Community Museum will screen Black Panthers, a documentary that tells the story of the Black Panther Party, Wednesday, Feb. 17, at noon. A discussion with a museum educator will follow the screening. Information and registration are available at www.anacostia.si.edu or call 202-633-4844.


Visitors can join the National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York and the Smithsonian Latino Center for a celebration of Afro-Indigenous heritage, Saturday, Feb. 6, 1 p.m., at the Heye Center. “Native Sounds Downtown!” with James Lovell presents the rich history of the Garifuna people through music and dance.

Bring the Kids

Young visitors and their families can drop into the National Portrait Gallery for the museum’s Portrait Story Day Series. Visitors can participate in an art activity after listening to a story about a famous inventor, activist or poet. This event is presented in partnership with D.C. Public Library and sponsored in part by the Reinsch Family Education Endowment.

Portrait Story Days: George Washington Carver

Saturday, Feb. 6; 1–4 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 7; 2–5 p.m.

Portrait Story Days: Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, Feb. 14; 2–5 p.m.

Portrait Story Days: Maya Angelou

Saturday, Feb. 20; 1–4 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 21; 2–5 p.m.

Portrait Story Days: Langston Hughes

Saturday, Feb. 27; 1–4 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 28; 2–5 p.m.

Discovery Theater in the S. Dillon Ripley Center presents Going the Distance, Tuesday–Friday, Feb. 2–5, at 10:15 and 11:30 a.m. The original musical tells the story of how Olympians Jesse Owens and Wilma Rudolph overcame childhood illness, infirmity and poverty to become the world’s fastest man and woman. Recommended for ages 6–11. Tickets are $3­­–$8 and available at www.discoverytheater.org or call 301-588-7525.


The National Museum of African American History and Culture’s exhibition “Through the African American Lens: Selections from the Permanent Collection” in its gallery space in the National Museum of American History. This preview of the collections of the African American History and Culture Museum spans American history from the Revolutionary era to the present.

The National Museum of American History will present “Little Rock Nine—Selected Objects” in its American Stories Exhibition Space from Feb. 8 through May. The collection highlights include Minnijean Brown’s 1958 suspension notice from Central High, the Little Rock High School 50 Year Commemoration Program, the graduation dress Brown designed with the accompanying New Lincoln School Commencement program and tickets, Brown’s 2012 Soul of Humanity Award and photos. Brown finished her secondary education in New York after Little Rock, Ark., closed its high schools.

All Black History Month programs at the Smithsonian are subject to change. Unless otherwise indicated, the programs are free. For more information about Black History Month programs, visit www.SmithsonianEducation.org/Heritage or email heritagemonths@si.edu. For general Smithsonian information, the public may call 202-633-1000.