Kate Masur’s “Example for All the Land” at NPG


Author Kate Masur, reading from "An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle for Equality in Washington, DC"

Today, Kate Masur, Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern University, read from her new book, An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle for Equality in Washington, DC at the National Portrait Gallery (hat tip to the City Paper for letting us know about this event).

After the reading, Masur took questions from the standing-room-only crowd. As she quoted from the Reconstruction-era diary entry of a racist white Washingtonian, I was startled by how over a century later, similar sentiments could be found in the comments sections of local blogs and newspapers. Masur said she wanted to “illuminate the larger picture of dynamism in Washington” via the stories in her book. She also reflected on how once slavery was “resolved”, many local white Republicans cared more about business than equality.

When Masur mentioned that An Example for All the Land –the first examination of Washington during Reconstruction in over five decades– explored why D.C. became a hub for black education and an African American middle class, the crowd buzzed with interest.

One attendee, Barbara Burger of Washington, D.C., enjoyed the presentation. Burger explained, “I’m a native Washingtonian. My family has been here since 1880. I’m very interested in any studies that explore the African American situation. I’m very happy to see she’s taken it upon herself to write a book and do research that will hopefully have an effect on the perceptions of this city.”

Next week on DCentric: an interview with Professor Masur, and more about her book.

A Free Festival, Tomorrow at the Smithsonian

Robert Burdock

If you’re interested in literature, film or South Asian culture, you would probably enjoy the South Asian Literary and Theater Arts Festival (SALTAF), which is happening tomorrow — I love it because it’s an event which is unique to D.C. (and it’s FREE):

This year’s festival will feature panel discussions, readings, and film screenings by internationally acclaimed writers and artists. The literary panel will feature poet Pireeni Sundaralingam, editor of the first anthology of contemporary South Asian poetry, Indivisible; award-winning writer Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of One Amazing Thing; and writer and artist Naeem Mohaiemen, whose work has been featured in galleries around the world. The non-fiction/journalism panel includes Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of the acclaimed Imperial Life in the Emerald City and National Editor at the Washington Post, and writer and activist Canyon Sam, author of The Sky Train.

Date : Saturday, November 13, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. |
Location : Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW |
Metro : Smithsonian or Federal Triangle

District Cuteness

I have a meeting I’m rushing off to, so posting will be light for a few hours, but you won’t even notice I’m gone, because you’ll be too busy looking at this photo set of the National Zoo’s baby Lion cubs taking a “swimming test”! I think they passed, with flying paddling colors.

Smithsonian's National Zoo

I would like to volunteer for the next swim test, thanks.

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Start your weekend off with free fun.

Laura Padgett

National Portrait Gallery

One of the reasons why I feel lucky to live in D.C. is because there are so many neat things going on, many of which cost nothing to attend; here’s an example of a free event, for tonight.

Skip rush hour, and join us for “Portraits After 5″ at the National Portrait Gallery. This happy hour event combines art and music with a contemporary twist.

The NPG will have a photobooth, a DJ, an artist “projecting” images and of course, an exhibit to explore– this time it’s “Americans Now“, and it focuses on celebrity and fame. Peep images of LL Cool J, Toni Morrison, Le Bron, Martha Stewart and more, while you debate whether they’ll still be famous in a century. If nothing else, it will help you avoid traffic. 8th and F Streets NW, from 5-8 pm.

With a Bolt of Blue

Smithsonian's National Zoo

This gray afternoon calls for something bright and cute, don’t you think? How about a Black-Footed Ferret Kit? Yup, that’s what Ferret babies are called: “kits”. This kit’s pic is from our National Zoo’s Flickr stream. Here’s another interesting,  zoo-related fact– 25 years ago, they were almost extinct: Continue reading

More happy news from the Zoo!

Smithsonian's National Zoo

This cub is a half-sibling to the three newest arrivals.

We posted about baby lions three weeks ago– and now there are even more! I can’t wait until “late fall or early winter”; that’s when the cubs go public at our lovely, free zoo.

The birth of three more lion cubs at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo this morning has contributed to the growth of the Zoo’s lion pride over the past three weeks and has brought the total number of cubs to seven so far. The Zoo’s six-year-old lion Nababiep gave birth to the three newest cubs three weeks after her sister, five-year-old Shera, gave birth to four cubs.

This news is extra nice; Nababiep is the lion who gave birth to a cub last May, only to have it die of pneumonia two days later, after a bit of straw lodged in its lung. The Zoo investigated alternative bedding alternatives after the incident. It’s nice to know that the fuzzy baby lion pictured above is sleeping safely– near three new playmates, as of today.

National Zoo Welcomes Four Lion Cubs!


The National Zoo's Shera, after giving birth.

Huzzah! There are new baby animals at the National Zoo. Last night, four lion cubs were born to first-time mother Shera. They arrived between 10:30 pm and 2:30 am.

This is especially wonderful for the Zoo and its fans because of the tragic loss of the last lion cub which was born there in May– who shared a father, Luke, with the current babies. Born to Shera’s sister, Nababiep, the single cub died after just 48 hours when a straw awn from its bedding became lodged in his lung. The Zoo has instituted changes, since then:

“Since the unfortunate death of Naba’s cub, we’ve investigated various alternative bedding options,” said Rebecca Stites, a lion and tiger keeper. “The use of bedding is imperative as it protects the cubs from trauma during the first fragile weeks of their lives. We’ve provided Shera and her cubs with shavings and soft hay with as few awns as possible.”

Good to know. The Zoo says the cubs will be visible to the public by late Fall. For those of us still suffering from Tai-Shan withdrawal, this news is delightful.

Kermit the Frog Comes Home

Kermit the Frog at The Smithsonian

John Mueller/Extra Medium

Kermit the Frog at The Smithsonian

Today, a beloved, internationally-recognized icon moved to the Smithsonian. What many of you may not know is that he was born right here in Washington, D.C. Via the AP:

The original Kermit the Frog, his body created with an old dull-green coat and his eyes made of pingpong balls, has returned home to the nation’s capital, where the puppet got his start.

The first Kermit creation from Jim Henson’s Muppet’s collection appeared in 1955 on the early TV show “Sam and Friends,” produced at Washington’s WRC-TV. Henson’s widow Jane Henson on Wednesday donated 10 characters from the show to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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