Black History


Obama at Black History Museum Ground Breaking (Photo)

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.

Black History Through D.C. Murals (Photos)

From Northwest to Southeast, D.C.’s public murals help tell the story of black history. Take a look at our gallery below, showcasing some of these public artworks.

Notable figures depicted in the murals include: Carter G. Woodson, considered “the father of black history;” activist and leader Malcolm X; abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass; and poet Langston Hughes.

Some of the murals are funded by the District government, while others are privately-commissioned. There are also a few that are quite new, while others will soon disappear due to development. The gallery presents a snapshot of D.C. murals relating to black history, so feel free to post photos of other such murals in the comments section.

Do We Still Need Black History Month? (Poll)

The debate over whether to continue Black History Month is a provocative one, and the voices calling to end it are coming from some unlikely sources. There are those who have long argued that singling out minority groups perpetuates racial animosity. Others ask “Why is there no white history month?” (A common counter argument to that is “Because every month is white history month.”). But some are raising the question because they think that having a Black History Month “lets us off the hook,” so to speak; with a month set aside to learn about black history, there’s little impetus to incorporate it into U.S. history classes.

That’s the thread chased by filmmaker Shukree Hassan Tilghman, the man behind “More Than A Month,” a documentary exploring the roots of Black History Month and the debate over whether to end it. (The film is screening in D.C. on Feb. 26).

Black History Month began in the 1920s as Negro History Week, the brainchild of D.C.’s Carter G. Woodson. The purpose: to learn about the accomplishments of black Americans and their contributions to society. Tilghman appeared on WAMU 88.5′s The Kojo Nnamdi Show earlier this month when he said that as a child, Black History Month gave him a “sense of empowerment, a sense of pride:”

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DCentric Picks: Our City Film Fest, Frederick Douglass’ Birthday

Courtesy of Our City Film Festival

"Fly By Light" follows 15 D.C. students as they leave the city for the West Virginia countryside for the first time.

What: Our City Film Festival.

When: Saturday and Sunday. Check the festival’s website for exact times.

Where: The Goethe Institute, 812 7 St. NW.

Cost: Tickets cost $10 per film.

Why you should go: The film festival screens films that take place in the District, showcasing the diversity of D.C. DCentric readers may be interested in seeing: “The Vigil,” which follows a Pakastani classical dancer who returns to her homeland from her adopted home in D.C.; “A Monument for Martin Luther King, Jr.,” a video essay on the King memorial and the role of memorials; and “Fly By Light,” a documentary-in-progress following 15 D.C. students who, for the first time, leave the city for the countryside of West Virginia.

Other events to consider: The National Park Service is celebrating the birthday of Frederick Douglass, who lived in D.C., with a full program of speeches and music. The free event takes place 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at his home (now the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site) at 1411 W St. SE.