DCentric » Black History http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU Obama at Black History Museum Ground Breaking (Photo) http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/obama-at-black-history-museum-ground-breaking-photo/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/obama-at-black-history-museum-ground-breaking-photo/#comments Wed, 22 Feb 2012 16:58:40 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=14271 Continue reading ]]> 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.

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Black History Through D.C. Murals (Photos) http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/black-history-through-d-c-murals-photos/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/black-history-through-d-c-murals-photos/#comments Tue, 21 Feb 2012 19:28:55 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=14235 Continue reading ]]> 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.

This mural on 7th Street NW in Shaw depicts historian Carter G. Woodson, considered the "father of black history." Woodson lived in D.C. Poet Langston Hughes and historian Carter G. Woodson, both once Shaw residents, are depicted in the Shaw Community Mural on 9th Street NW. The Shiloh Baptist Church is also shown in the mural, a black church that played an important role in Shaw's community life. Frederick Douglass is the centerpiece of this mural on Bread for the City's building on Good Hope Road SE. Douglass lived in a home nearby. Malcolm X is included in a mural on the building housed by Sankofa Cafe and Bookstore on Georgia Ave NW. The image comes from a famous poster that shows Malcolm X wiedling a rifle and looking outside of a window, underneath the words "By any means necessary." This relatively new mural off of U Street NW includes imagery evoking the 1963 March on Washington, which was originally called "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom." Duke Ellington is one of Washington's native sons. This mural on U Street NW was originally near the U Street Metro Station but was dismantled and moved a few blocks down to the True Reformer Building. This Duke Ellington mural was just completed in late 2011, and was painted on a building on Ward Place NW near where the jazz legend was born. This mural off of New York Avenue NE pays homage to some of D.C.'s great music legends, including Marvin Gaye. The Black Family Reunion mural shows a collage of an anonymous family through the years. Originally commissioned by the National Black McDonald's Operators Association, the 18-year-old mural on 14th Street NW will soon be replaced by development. ]]>
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Do We Still Need Black History Month? (Poll) http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/do-we-still-need-black-history-month-poll/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/do-we-still-need-black-history-month-poll/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2012 17:23:22 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13871 Continue reading ]]> 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:”

That only changed as I got older. And as I became an adult, I started to see sort of the same posters that would go up on the wall. The same four, five people sort of get trotted out. I’d see, you know, in my classrooms, people’s eyes sort of glaze over when Black History Month came on, you know, these sort of things that had nothing to do with African-American history that would be programmed on television or in the community.

Tamara Evans / Flickr

The argument that Black History Month “ghettoizes” history can be extended to apply to other realms, including mass media (and even this blog); by setting aside specific platforms to acknowledge certain groups or issues, there’s little impetus to incorporate them into the mainstream.

But others say that there’s still a need for such platforms, including Black History Month, since society is a long way off from incorporating marginalized groups into the mainstream. As Newsweek and The Daily Beast reporter Raina Kelley writes:

Woodson’s aim was also to rebut the inaccurate and insulting stereotyping that then passed for knowledge about African-Americans—such as the canards that black people aren’t as intelligent as other races and are more prone to criminality and dancing. And sadly, nearly 100 years and a civil-rights movement later, too many people still believe that.

What do you think about the topic? Take our poll:

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DCentric Picks: Our City Film Fest, Frederick Douglass’ Birthday http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/dcentric-picks-our-city-film-fest-frederick-douglass-birthday/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/dcentric-picks-our-city-film-fest-frederick-douglass-birthday/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2012 16:53:07 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13818 Continue reading ]]>

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.

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