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.
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.
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.
Sean Ganann / Flickr
The Carter G. Woodson mural is on 7th Street NW.
What: Black History Month Family Day
When: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday.
Where: The National Portrait Gallery’s Kogod Courtyard at 800 F St. NW.
Why you should go: Family-friendly and free activities will be held throughout the day to celebrate the start of Black History Month. There will be art workshops, music performances and a photo booth.
Other events to consider: The DC Public Library’s annual Black Film Festival begins Tuesday, with films each week focusing on the role of black women in American history and culture. Films screen weekly at 3 p.m., Tuesdays at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at 901 G St. NW.
Alan / Flickr
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is on Monday.
History: Monday marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day and this year will be the first time that King’s memorial on the National Mall will be open to the public. A number of events and activities, which can be reviewed here, are being held on the memorial’s grounds starting Friday and running through Wednesday.
Talk: It’s too late to reserve seats to attend Thursday’s “Remaking America,” a conversation hosted by Tavis Smiley at George Washington University and being broadcast live on C-SPAN. But if you have to miss it, you can check out the official after-event with Smiley and Cornel West at Busboys and Poets. It starts at 10 p.m. at the 14th and V streets NW location.
Art: We’ve recommended checking out the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Design’s “30 Americans” exhibit before, which displays heralded art by black American artists. The gallery normally charges $10 for entry, but is offering free admission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday. The Corcoran is located at 500 17th St. NW.
Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami.
Kehinde Wiley, Sleep, 2008. Oil on canvas, 132 x 300 inches.
The ongoing “30 Americans” exhibit that recently opened at the Corcoran Gallery of Art showcases work by some of most important African American artists of the past 30 years.
The 76 pieces of art are owned by Donald and Mera Rubell, who hold one of the world’s largest, private art collections. Mera Rubell tells WAMU’s Metro Connection that they noticed a trend in their collection about five years ago:
Elvert Barnes / Flickr
A view from the Reflecting Pool of the 2006 NSO Labor Day Concert.
What: National Symphony Orchestra‘s tribute to the legends of D.C. music.
When: Gates open at 5 p.m. and the the show starts at 8 p.m., Sunday.
Where: West lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The show will be moved to the Kennedy Center if it rains (call 202-416-8114 after 2:30 p.m.).
Why you should go: There are two D.C.’s, but both of them will come together for this event. When else can you hear go-go played on the U.S. Capitol lawn, and by our nation’s symphony orchestra no less? The music of D.C.’s own Duke Ellington, John Philip Sousa and Chuck Brown will be showcased. The show will also be a sort of birthday celebration for Brown, the “Godfather of Go-Go,” who turns 75 this year.
Other events to consider: Saturday is the last day to take advantage of Free Summer Saturdays at the Corcoran Gallery of Art at 500 17th St., NW. Admission, which normally costs $10, is free on Saturday.
What: “(Un)Lock It: The Percussive People in the Go-Go Pocket” photo exhibition.
When: Opening is from 6 to 8 p.m., Friday. The show runs until Oct. 7.
Where: The Gallery at Vivid Solutions, 2208 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE.
Why you should go: Photographer and drummer Thomas Sayers Ellis has been documenting the lives of local go-go stars and shows since the 1980s. His images capture D.C.’s homegrown musical culture even as it appears to be vanishing from the District’s borders.
Other events to consider: If you’re between 13 and 17 years of age (or know someone who is) consider attending Portraits After 5, which will feature a youth fashion show, portrait booths and the chance to view art at the National Portrait Gallery. The teen event takes place 6 to 10 p.m., Saturday.
What: A panel discussion, “Portraits and Interviews of Mixed-Race America.”
When: 7 p.m., Thursday.
Where: Natural History Museum, Baird Auditorium (10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW).
Why you should go: The question “What are you?” is complicated to answer for multiracial Americans. A photographer documented the responses from mixed-race D.C. area residents. The subjects of the photos will talk about the concept of race and how they self identify.
Other events to consider: The event “The Art of Vandalism” will take a closer look at how D.C. graffiti should be handled. The cost is free and it takes place at 6 p.m., Tuesday at Busboys and Poets (1390 V St. NW).
There are a number of events this weekend that deserve the DCentric Picks treatment, so we’re highlighting three in equal measure for this installment:
Courtesy: DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
- This month’s installment of Sulu DC features an all-female lineup of Asian-American and Pacific Islander hip-hop artists. The shows takes place at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at U Street Music Hall (1115 U Street, NW). Advance tickets cost $10 and $15 at the door.
- The second annual DC African Festival takes place from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday at the Takoma Recreation Center (300 Van Buren Street, NW). Food vendors, fashion shows, drum circles and a blogger exhibition will all be a part of the city-sponsored event.
Looking for an event that relates to race or class in D.C.? DCentric will be regularly posting event listings we believe will be of interest to our readers. If you have an event you think we should feature, email email@example.com.