tunnelarmr / Flickr
Dancers representing the Virgin Islands participate in 2008's D.C. Caribbean Festival.
After weeks of speculation as to whether D.C. Caribbean Carnival will take place because of financial woes, the show will go on. Well, sort of.
The parade that typically marches down Georgia Avenue won’t be in D.C. this year. Organizers announced that the D.C. event will join with Baltimore’s annual Caribbean Carnival/Festival for a parade taking place July 14 at Baltimore’s Lake Clifton Park.
D.C. Caribbean Carnival usually holds a Pan Jam, with steel bands and costume judging. That will take place in Bladensburg, Md. during June 23 and 24, the original date of the festival.
The annual parade has been cited as a boost for businesses up and down Georgia Avenue, many of whom protested last year when the route was cut short (again, due to financial troubles).
LollyKnit / Flickr
Restaurants around D.C.’s unofficial “Little Ethiopia” have been experimenting lately, hosting everything from rock bands and comedy nights, to serving macaroni and cheese instead of injera and tibs. It’s all been part of an effort to stay competitive and alive in the midst of a struggling economy.
So, is it working? Maybe so, at least for Queen Makeda. The restaurant switched over to American fare and has been holding hip hop nights and hosting bands. It’s been so successful that the restaurant now needs more space. This weekend will be Queen Makeda’s last night at 1917 9th St. NW. The restaurant is closing with plans to reopen in a bigger space in the neighborhood.
“There’s definitely a niche in D.C. for what we do,” said Queen Makeda bartender Jeremy Quarless-Cole. “You have to [change] in that area, simply because there are so many Habesha restaurants serving the same food.”
Perhaps there’s still a healthy market for Ethiopian food in D.C. Just not when it’s all concentrated within a few blocks.
Brandon Nedwek / Flickr
A weekly drum circle has been decades-old a mainstay in the park called Meridian Hill by some, and Malcolm X by others.
D.C.’s big, popular park off of 16th Street NW has two names. Sort of. Some (including the National Park Service) call it Meridian Hill Park, while others (including many residents) call it Malcolm X Park.
There was a move to rename the park in the aftermath of the 1968 riots, but Congress rejected that proposal. Many still call it Malcolm X Park. Earlier this week, we asked our readers what they call the park, and why. Here are the results thus far from our poll, showing a split of opinion slightly in favor of Meridian Hill Park:
Nahal Tavangar / @NahalTav
About 1,200 people attended the fourth annual Cherry Blast party in Anacostia.
Trapeze artists hovered above a crowd. A band played electronic music as green lasers flashed through the room. Nearby, people created silk-screened T-shirts, a video installation played against the wall and the crowd tossed a large, clear plastic bubble filled with pink balloons in the air.
The annual Cherry Blast event on Saturday night was in many ways a creative, warehouse party. It pulled together all sorts of artistic and musical spectacles that attracted a racially diverse crowd of 1,200 willing to pay $10 a ticket to enter.
But this party didn’t happen in Northwest or near gentrifying H Street NE. Cherry Blast, produced by The Pink Line Project, took place in a vacant police evidence warehouse in Anacostia, and drew attendees largely from other parts of town, many of whom were young and white.
Anacostia has a rich history, but in recent years the neighborhood has developed a reputation as dangerous and poor, a perception that local activists have been battling. It’s a mostly black neighborhood that doesn’t typically attract many white people.
Cherry Blast comes on the heels of Lumen8Anacostia, a weekend of art events and pop-ups held throughout the neighborhood. These events have given people, who normally don’t trek east of the Anacostia River, a reason to visit the neighborhood. But in doing so, they’ve raised questions about race and class.
What: D.C. Emancipation Day Great Debate
When: 6 p.m., Saturday
Where: The Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW
Cost: Free, but you should register here.
Why you should go: The debate is just one of a number of D.C. Emancipation Day activities taking place throughout the week (the actual day is on April 16). The event is a callback to the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, a series of seven debates that took place between then-Republican Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln and incumbent Sen. Stephen Douglas. Slavery loomed large in those debates.
D.C.’s “Great Debate” will focus on issues affecting today’s black community, such as unemployment, the economy, healthcare and the 2012 presidential race. Panelists include Michael Eric Dyson, activist Rev. Al Sharpton, author Julianne Malveaux and Republic political analyst Joe Watkins.
Other events to consider: Seven major Asian American poets, writers and playwrights will present new work on Saturday at the National Portrait Gallery as part of “Asian American Portraits of Encounter Between Image and Word.” The new writings were commissioned as a response to the museum’s first major exhibition of Asian American visual artists. Tours of the exhibit start at 11:15 a.m., and the readings start at 12:15 p.m. The day will also include panels and book signings.
Zain Shah / Courtesy of Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co.
Katia Chupashko performs in "Becoming American," about being a Korean child adopted by white Americans.
What: Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co. spring dance performance.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
Where: George Washington University’s Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre (800 21st St. NW).
Cost: Tickets range from $15 to $25.
Why you should go: The contemporary dance performance focuses on identity and the Asian American experience, including a piece that tells the story of a Korean child adopted by white American parents and how Asian Americans live as “hyphenated” Americans.
Alex Lee / Courtesy of HarperCollins
Baratunde Thurston is author of the new book, "How to Be Black."
What: A book reading by Baratunde Thurston, author of “How to Be Black.”
When: Doors open at 6 p.m., and the event starts at 7 p.m., Thursday.
Where: Sidwell Friends School’s Quaker Meeting House at 3825 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
Why you should go: Thurston, a comedian, social critic and digital director for The Onion, grew up in D.C. In his new book, “How to Be Black,” Thurston uses plenty of humor to touch upon the complexities of growing up black in America, with the District as a backdrop. He also writes about growing up in Columbia Heights before it was gentrified.
Lia / Flickr
A haft sin, or traditional table setting, was on display at last year's Freer and Sackler Galleries Now Ruz event.
What: Now Ruz, or a Persian New Year celebration
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday
Where: Freer and Sackler Galleries at 1050 Independence SW.
Cost: Free, although some of the musical performances require free tickets. The food is available for purchase.
Why you should go: The annual event is held weeks before Now Ruz, or Persian New Year, an ancient festival. The museum will offer typical Persian New Year activities and attractions, including fire-jumping and traditional “haft sin” table displays, as well as classical and contemporary musical performances, photo booths and Persian food.
Courtesy of Atlas Performing Arts Center
Srishti Dances of India will perform 7 p.m., Saturday. Multi-generational artists will stories of the immigrant experience.
What: Intersections: A New America Arts Festival
When: Thursday through March 11.
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
Cost: Ticket prices vary by show, but there are 30 free performances.
Why you should go: The third annual festival, with more than 150 performances, aims to present a variety of art forms, such as music, dance and theater, that connect audiences of diverse ages, races and cultural backgrounds. Performances include youth tap dancers, live storytellers and French-Vietnamese jazz guitarists. Some shows will be followed by discussions between artists and audiences, a space that allows for cross-cultural conversations.
The groundbreaking for a new Smithsonian black history museum took place in D.C. this morning. It will be the first national museum devoted to black life, culture and history, and it will open on the National Mall in 2015.
We’ve previously explored the debate over the need for a Black History Month and whether there’s still a need to focus on black history. President Barack Obama attended today’s ceremony, saying “this day has been a long time coming” and that the museum will remind and inspire visitors of “how ordinary Americans can do extraordinary things.”
Below is a photo of President Obama with First Lady Michelle Obama at the ceremony, standing during the national anthem, flanked by a solider in the front.
Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stand for the National Anthem during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall.