As we enter February, many people will look for ways to commemorate Black History Month. Started back in the early 1920s, Black History Month was created by Carter G. Woodson to bring to light the many contributions of African Americans to this country. While it was originally called Negro History Week, Woodson did not design the program to be limited to that seven-day time period. Students spent all year learning about African American history and then spent that one week in February sharing what they learned in programs held throughout the community. Much like Carter G. Woodson, the Anacostia Community Museum also believes that African American History is something that should take place throughout the year, though we do participate in Black History Month by providing opportunities for the community to celebrate, commemorate, and plan for a better future.
The museum is proud to welcome visitors to The Utopia Project: Inspiration for Creative Activism. This gallery experience asks visitors to imagine the world they want to live in and then provides them with the tools to make it a reality. Using the stories of historic African American changemakers such as Walter Pierce and Roach Brown and new changemakers such as artists Yetunda Sapp and Maps Glover, this experience encourages creativity to serve as the catalyst for actions that lead to positive change. As our Associate Director of Education says, Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t say “I have a five-point plan,” he said, “I have a dream.” Dreams are powerful and allow us to imagine a world where we live up to the words in our founding documents of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In addition to The Utopia Project, the museum will have programs throughout the month encouraging visitors to learn more about African American history in the D.C. region. The museum believes it is important for everyone to feel welcome and have access to our programs so we planned programs that should appeal to a variety of audiences including families, artists and activists, and community historians. We work with community organizations and individuals to share their stories and highlight the good things happening East of the River. All of our programs are free and can be found on our website at anacostia.si.edu/events.
The D.C. region is rich with opportunities for Black History Month programs. Even if you don’t attend a program at the Anacostia Community Museum (or one of our other Smithsonian museums), I hope you will take the time to commemorate and celebrate the contributions of African Americans. If not in February, then at some other point in the year because African American history and culture should not be confined to 28 days a year.