Things to Do DC

Black History Month in the DC Area: 20+ Ways to Discover African American Heritage

Concerts, films, exhibits, food and more ways to mark Black History Month in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia

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February is Black History Month, and there are numerous ways to celebrate around D.C. all month long. 

The theme of this year’s Black History Month is Black Resistance.

"Black resistance strategies have served as a model for every other social movement in the country, thus, the legacy and importance of these actions cannot be understated," the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) website states.

Here is a guide of events in the area to commemorate the contributions of Black Americans to U.S. history and to appreciate Black identity within the D.C. area and beyond.

Black History Month Events in the D.C. Area

VisArts Presidents "Passage/way/s" (Through March 5, Gibbs Street Gallery, Rockville, Maryland, free): The mixed media work of Maryland native Jessica Valoris explores Black fugitive folklore, the legacies of Black people who were enslaved and how they imagined liberation.

"In the Heat of the Night" screening (Sunday, Feb. 19, 10:30 a.m., the Avalon Theatre, Northwest D.C., $16.04): Sidney Poitier plays a police detective investigating a murder in a small Mississippi town. The film won five Academy Awards in 1967, and the Avalon Theatre is screening it as part of its Centennial Program celebrating 100 years in D.C.

We Didn't Wait for Freedom: A Quilt Exhibit for Black History Month (Through Feb. 22, Bowie, Maryland, free): Quilter Vera Hall's work is on display at the Darnall's Chance House Museum. It's free to visit, but tours cost extra. The museum is closed on Mondays and Saturdays.

Poetry Workshop Series (Feb.1-23, virtual, free): In a series of online workshops, slam poetry champion Anthony McPherson will lead attendees in engaging their senses and exploring works of art focused on the Black American experience.

Unshakable: The Rise of Newmantown at the Agricultural History Farm Park (Fridays and Saturdays in February, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Derwood, Maryland, free): Head to the Agricultural History Farm Park to learn about the inspiring legacy of the Newmans, freedmen who became landowners, giving space for an African American community to grow.

Black Aviators Tour (Saturdays and Sundays, College Park Aviation Museum, free with museum admission): Local and nationally-known Black aviators are celebrated on this tour aimed at people age 12 and up. Advanced registration is not required. Museum admission costs $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $2 for children.

Sweet Home Café Black History Month Chef’s Table (Feb. 3-24 Sweet Home Cafe, see menu for prices): Sweet Home Café, which is inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will showcase a new chef every Friday during February to celebrate Black History Month. There will be no cost to visit the museum, but menu prices vary.

NMAAHC Kids: Black Characters Celebration (Feb. 4-21, 2023, free): Throughout Black History Month, NMAAHC will celebrate Black movie and television characters. These events will be led by museum educators on Zoom and will feature characters like Princess Tiana, Antonio from “Encanto” and Doc McStuffins. 

Black Resistance! Stories from Prince George’s County (Open Saturday, Feb. 4 to Sunday, March 26, Montpelier Arts Center, free): This exhibit traces the local history of Black resistance from the slavery era to the Black Lives Matter movement. An opening reception is planned for Sunday, Feb. 4.

Freedom: Selected Works from the Uhuru Quilters Guild (Through April 22, Brentwood, Maryland, free): The Brentwood Arts Exchange is displaying the work of African American quilters. An opening reception is planned for Feb. 18 and an artist and curator talk is set for March 25.

Black History Month Yoga (Mondays, 7:30 to 9 p.m., suggested donation): Eaton Wellness Director Tara Aura leads musically-fueled yoga classes: Bob Marley on Feb. 6, Sade on Feb. 13, Marvin Gaye on Feb. 20 and Beyonce on Feb. 27.

Black Film Festival (Tuesdays Feb. 7-28, MLK Library, free): The 34th Annual Black Film Festival will include screenings every Tuesday in February, beginning Feb. 7, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. There will be a series of films and documentaries showcasing Black life in America.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Feb. 7-12, Kennedy Center, $49): The modern dance company will return to the Kennedy Center from Feb. 7-12 with Ailey’s most famous composition, “Revelations.” The performance aims to celebrate the company’s rich history and bring people together through the power of dance.

Portraits of Remarkable Black Women (Feb. 10 to Sept. 10, National Portrait Gallery, free): Beginning Feb. 10, the National Portrait Gallery will present all 75 portraits from Brian Lanker’s 1989 book project “I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America.” Subjects include portraits of Althea Gibson, Odetta, Cicely Tyson and Oprah Winfrey.

“The High Ground” at Arena Stage (Feb.10- April 2, Arena Stage, $82): More than a century after the Tulsa race massacre, this unexpected love story focuses on a Black soldier who stands at the top of Tulsa’s Standpipe Hill, watching the destruction take place below and dealing with the trauma afterward. The show will run until April at Arena Stage.

Black History Month Family Day (Feb. 18, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sandy Spring, Maryland): Learn about Montgomery County's Black history at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park. You can also pick up take-home activities for kids aged 5 to 15.

Walk With Woodson (Feb. 18, 11 a.m., Shaw): Walk through Shaw with actor Darius Wallace playing Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Black History Month, and highlighting places and people important to his story. You must make a reservation by emailing

When the Stars Align: Celestial Navigation and the Underground Railroad (Feb. 25, 11 a.m., North Bethesda, free): How did the stars guide people seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad? Historian Dr. Sylvea Hollis, astronomer Dr. Lou Strolger and Ph.D. candidate Sophie Hess will explore the topic at Josiah Henson Museum and Park. The program is intended for people age 6 and up; limited seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis).

Prince George’s County Memorial Library System: Libraries throughout the county will host performing arts events, historical programs, film screenings and family-oriented activities.  

Black history tours (Various): Harriet Tubman Tours is a great option for those looking to get out into Dorchester County, Maryland. Within the Beltway, local guides offer tours highlighting the history of Black Broadway (U Street) and Pennsylvania Avenue that you can book via Airbnb Experiences. Or, guide yourself through the Georgia Ave./Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail.

Past Events

Ari Voxx Performance (Feb.1, DC9 Nightclub, $5): D.C. native Ari Voxx will kick off Black History Month with a performance at DC9 Nightclub. Joining her will be artists NXNES and Jaylin Conner.

Author Talk at MLK Library (Feb. 1, MLK Library, free): Authors Toluse Olorunnipa and Robert Samuels will discuss their 2022 book “His Name is George Floyd” to celebrate Black History Month at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The conversation will be led by NBC4’s very own Jummy Olabanji.

The Ford’s Theatre Legacy Commissions: A First Look (Feb. 2-4, Ford’s Theatre, free): Three plays in development at Ford’s Theatre will be read publicly for the first time. Each has a historical theme: “Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard” is about Atlanta’s first Black mayor; “Blackbox” follows Henry Brown’s daring escape from slavery and “Young and Just” tells the story of biologist Dr. Ernest Everett Just. The four readings are free to attend, and the audience will be given an opportunity to give feedback.

African American Heritage Trail (Feb. 4, Alexandria History Museum at the Lyceum, free): Help The Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) and the African American Heritage Trail Committee (AAHTC) launch the south trail route of the African American Heritage Trail. Each of the 19 stops on the trail represents an important aspect of Black history in Alexandria.

Culpeper's African American and Native American Revolutionary War Patriots (Saturday, Feb. 4, 4 p.m.): Kay Slaughter, a descendant of Culpeper Minutemen Capt. Phillip Slaughter, will read from notes on his travels.

Black History Month Celebration Concert (Feb. 5, Howard Community College, $50): The Howard County Center of African American Culture will host a Black History Month celebration concert. The event will feature gospel, jazz and contemporary choral performances.

MLK Tribute Concert (Feb. 5, Kennedy Center Concert Hall, $25): The Choral Arts Society of Washington announced this year's “Living the Dream...Singing the Dream” tribute concert co-presented with Washington Performing Arts. The performance will pay tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Men of Distinction Black History Step Showcase (Feb. 10, Bowie Center for the Performing Arts, $5): Bowie High School’s Men of Distinction will perform a step showcase to celebrate Black History Month. The show will include talents such as Xclusive step team, the Winter Guard and more.

Frederick Douglass Birthday Celebration (Feb. 11, 2-4 p.m., Capital Turnaround, free): The National Park Service marks the famous abolitionist’s birthday in fitting style with an oration contest, light-hearted debate and musical performances. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. for pre-program activities including live music from DC Strings, exhibitors and more.

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