Variety of programs celebrate Black History Month


In conjunction with Black History Month, a variety of programs is being offered during February at museums and public buildings in the region. At the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the list includes lectures, tours, plays, demonstrations, films and exhibitions. Many are free. The kick-off event features a keynote lecture by the Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in New York City, and a singing group demonstrating the African roots of African-American spirituals. It will be held Feb. 3 at noon in the Carmichael Auditorium of the National Museum of American History.

The National Air and Space Museum will offer a noontime lecture series on "Blacks in Aviation" Feb. 13 and 27 in the museum's Briefing Room. Capt. Les Morris, president of Negro Airmen International Inc. and the first black airline captain of Eastern Airlines, will talk about his career and provide a personal glimpse of the past and present roles of blacks in aviation, Feb. 13. Theodore Robinson, assistant program manager in the Federal Aviation Administration's Aircraft Fleet Program and a visiting historian at the museum, will speak on "The Struggle by African-Americans to Fly during the 1930s," Feb. 27. Retired Army Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. will discuss his life from his cadet days at West Point through World War II, when he was commander of the first all-black American fighter squadron. The lecture will be held Feb. 20 in the museum's Samuel P. Langley Theatre at 7:30 p.m. After the talk he will autograph copies of his biography.

Another program in African-American culture, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Historical Perspectives on the African Diaspora," explores the critical stages of the African diaspora before and after 1492 and the scope of African influence on the evolution of American society. The dates are Feb. 6 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Feb. 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Feb. 8 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Carmichael Auditorium, National Museum of American History. As part of the program, a live event, "The African Diaspora Marketplace" in Flag Hall, features craft demonstrations, hair-braiding demonstrations, street sounds, children's games and international performers, such as Djimo Kouyate, West African griot; the Trinidad and Tobago Steel Band with a stiltwalker and a Haitian group on Friday; and a rap group and a Washington a cappella doo-wop group on Saturday. Advance registration is required. Call (202) 357-4176.

Randall Robinson will give an up-to-the-minute analysis of South Africa Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Marion and Gustave Ring Auditorium of the Hirshhorn Museum. Tickets cost $12 for adults; $7 for students with I.D. Call (202) 357-3030.

Several performances and family programs are scheduled. VTC "Azapane and the Peanuts" is an audience participation play, based on an African folktale combining storytelling, music and humor. It is recommended for children, prekindergarten through third grade. The play runs through March 7 in the Discovery Theater, Arts and Industries Building. Hours are 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Tuesday to Friday and 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $3.50 for adults; $3 for children 12 and under. Call (202) 357-1500 for reservations.

Actor Bill Grimmett portrays the first black American scientist in "American Sampler: Benjamin Banneker" Feb. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at various times between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the After the Revolution Exhibition, National Museum of American History.

Asanteman Kuo of Washington, a local association of Asante people from Ghana, will present a traditional Asante festival procession with music and dance Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. at the National Museum of African Art. On Feb. 29 Fantse Kuw, a local group of Fante people from southern Ghana, will present a traditional storytelling event, "Voices of Africa," in the museum's lecture hall at 2 p.m.

Atlanta actress Saundra Dunson Franks will re-create the dramatic life of Harriet Tubman in a one-woman performance, "Hats: A Tribute to Harriet Tubman," Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History. Admission is $16 for adults; $8 for students with I.D. Call (202) 357-3030. For these and other Black History month programs, call (202) 357-4574 for a 24-hour recording, or (202) 357-2700.

A Gospel Extravaganza will launch Black History Month activities Fredericksburg, Va., today as seven groups perform at Mary Washington College at 3 p.m. Other events throughout the month include a blues-jazz concert, black history tours of Fredericksburg, a theatrical production, a public address by former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, a poetry reading by Gwendolyn Brooks, films and lectures. All events are open to the public, and most are free. For information, call (703) 899-4838.


The Historic Surratt House and Tavern in Clinton will hold an exhibit of antique valentines Saturday and next Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Over 75 antique cards dating from the 1840s through the turn of the century will be on display. One of the highlights of the exhibit is a reproduction of box and mechanical valentines created by a Franciscan brother in the 1960s-'70s. Popular during the 1880s, these valentines could be as large as 1 foot high with all kinds of mechanisms and levers to pull.

Craft and gift items related to St. Valentine's Day will be for sale.

Admission is $1 for adults; 75 cents for seniors; 50 cents for children. The fee includes tours of the Surratt House and Tavern, famous for its role in the Lincoln assassination conspiracy.

The museum is at 9118 Brandywine Road in Clinton. For information, call (301) 868-1121.


Some 10,000 people turn out each year for the traditional Chinese New Year Parade in Washington. This colorful event will take place next Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. from 8th and H streets, N.W. Marching bands, dragon dancers, jugglers and others will wend their way through the streets of Chinatown.

The celebration continues until 5 p.m. near the Chinatown Archway at 7th and H streets, N.W. There will be welcoming remarks by visiting and local dignitaries. Then firecrackers strung from a six-story crane will explode to scare off evil spirits. Festivities include performances by lion dancers, clowns, balloons and more than two dozen Chinatown restaurants offering specialty food at discount prices throughout the day.

The Chinese Lunar New Year festival symbolizes a time to prepare exotic foods, close accounts, pay debts, clean house, honor ancestors and thank the gods for a prosperous new year. This year's celebration honors the "Year of the Monkey." It is sponsored and coordinated by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and the D.C. Committee to Promote Washington. Admission is free.

Take the Metro to Gallery Place-Chinatown, or park in lots near the Washington Convention Center, 7th and G streets, N.W. For information, call (202) 724-4091.

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