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.
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.
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.
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.
nasa hq photo / Flickr
Members of the NSO performing at the Kennedy Center.
What: The National Symphony Orchestra plays throughout Columbia Heights as part of “NSO In Your Neighborhood.”
When and where: Concerts began Wednesday and will continue through Monday at various locations in Columbia Heights. Check the National Symphony Orchestra’s schedule for exact dates, times and locations.
Cost: All show are free, but some do require advance registration.
Why you should go: The musical stylings of the NSO are typically relegated to expensive venues such as the Kennedy Center. These yearly neighborhood performances are intended to bring classical music back to the masses and increase accessibility to those living in D.C.’s diverse neighborhoods.
Other events to consider: A panel discussion and film screening of “The MLK Streets Project,” which follows eight D.C. teens as they travel around the country to see the state of streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr. The film explores the racial, historical and economic state of America through these streets. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., Monday at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (641 D St. NW). Tickets cost $15 to $20.
What: Sulu DC‘s second anniversary show.
Where: Artisphere, located at 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington.
When: 6:30 p.m., Saturday.
Cost: Tickets cost $20.
Why you should go: Sulu DC aims to provide a space for Asian American and Pacific Islander artists of all stripes to present their works and raise issues relevant to their communities. The anniversary show will feature poet Regie Cabico, beat boxer Chip Han and the J. Pharaoh & the Manhattan Project band.
Other events to consider: The National Mall is sponsoring “African American Life on Pennsylvania Avenue,” a ranger-led walking tour exploring the role of African Americans in the history of the nation’s capital. The free tour begins at 2 p.m., Sunday at Freedom Plaza.
What: FotoWeek DC’s “7.4.11″ exhibit.
Where: Carroll Square Gallery, located at 975 F St., NW.
When: On display until Nov. 18.
Why you should go: FotoWeek DC includes a number of events and exhibits. The “7.4.11″ exhibit features photos documenting how diverse Americans celebrated July 4th. Participating photographers are a part of the nonprofit Facing Change: Documenting America, which aims to portray critical issues facing Americans of all stripes.