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Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC

Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Washington, DC

Check out events, performances, sites and museum exhibits that honor Black history and culture.

African American history and culture are an essential part of DC’s identity, which means that there are numerous ways to celebrate Black History Month in the city. Below, we’ve detailed some of the best ways to engage with African American culture, community and history in the District.


The nation’s capital is also full of year-round ways to honor the African American experience at museums and memorials, as well as a collection of Black-owned restaurants and Black chefs.


@uspostalservice - Marvin Gaye stamp pictured in front of the Howard Theatre in DC's Shaw neighborhood
Photo credit: @uspostalservice

Explore Shaw and the Howard Theatre
Walk through the historic Shaw neighborhood, once home to prominent African Americans including jazz legend Duke Ellington, whose statue resides in front of the historic Howard Theatre. You can also walk the theater's Walk of Fame, which begins near the United Negro College Fund Headquarters and continues for two blocks, right up to the facade of the Howard. Explore the neighborhood's musical and cultural heritage with a Black Broadway walking tour, led by local journalist and author Briana Thomas.

The Shaw neighborhood was named for Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, a member of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry of black soldiers who fought during the Civil War. The area earned the nickname, “The Heart of Chocolate City,” as escaped slaves settled there and eventually started businesses catering to the large population of African Americans. Once you are done admiring its history, check out Shaw’s awesome dining scene.


@kevin.barata - 'I Have a Dream' Martin Luther King, Jr. steps on the Lincoln Memorial - African American history and culture sites in Washington, DC
Photo credit: @kevin.barata

Stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
The National Mall has been the site of vital African American history, including the March on Washington led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963 and the first Million Man March in 1995. You can also admire the spot where King delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech during the aforementioned March, as the spot can be found etched onto the Lincoln Memorial steps.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall - Monument in Washington, DC
Pay homage at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Situated on a four-acre, crescent-shaped site in West Potomac Park, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial features a 30-foot statue of Dr. King carved into what is known as the Stone of Hope, which stands past two other pieces of granite known as the Mountain of Despair (both are references to his “I Have A Dream” speech). Visit the Inscription Wall to read incredible quotes from King’s speeches, sermons and writings.


Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC

Experience Black Lives Matter Plaza

In June 2020, a portion of 16th Street, just north of Lafayette Square, was transformed into a city-commissioned mural emblazoned with the powerful civil rights message in yellow lettering. The site is an ideal space to reflect on not just DC's Black history, but the country's as a whole. The landmark is also a bright beacon for protest, free speech and the push for racial and social equality in America.

Be amazed by the expansive Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Through stunning architecture and four floors containing exhibits and thousands of artifacts, the Smithsonian museum details African American life, history and culture in incredible detail. Since the National Mall landmark is one of the city’s most popular attractions, make sure to obtain your tickets to this free museum in advance. You can also check out programming for the month of February.

The Juke Joint

The Juke Joint

Go on a Black culinary journey at The Juke Joint
Travel back in time and savor a night curated to perfection at The Westin Washington, DC City Center. The Juke Joint offers food and drink pairings that will highlight Black cuisine through the decades; we're talking chicken and waffles, fried catfish, five-cheese mac and cheese, collard greens and much, much more. Your ticket includes a three-course menu packed with culinary greatness.


Attend the Go-Go Museum Honors
Four years ago, Mayor Bowser officially designated go-go as the official music of DC. The Go-Go Museum & Café will celebrate that accolade as well as a host of go-go icons during this ceremony and fundraiser. Honorees include the Mayor, Big Tony from Trouble Funk, DC Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Mr. William Julius “JuJu” House and many more. The Experience Band will perform as part of the festivities.


Pay homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Living the Dream…Singing the Dream
The Washington Performing Arts and Choral Arts Society of Washington choirs come together for an annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Kennedy Center. Experience a powerful performance in the spirit of community and honor Dr. King’s lasting impact through music.

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