Black History Month 2024: African Americans and the Arts

black history month
Rate this post

Black History Month, observed annually, is a celebration dedicated to educating, honoring, and commemorating the achievements and contributions of the Black community in the United States, recognizing their pivotal role in shaping the nation’s history. Each year, a specific theme is chosen for Black History Month, and for 2024, the focus is on “African Americans and the Arts.” There are numerous avenues to participate in the celebration of Black History Month. Let’s explore where to visit this Black History Month with Printing Ooze!

Exploring Shaw and the Howard Theatre

Take a stroll through the history of the Shaw neighborhood on Black History Month, once the home to renowned African Americans, including jazz legend Duke Ellington, whose statue graces the front of the historic Howard Theatre. You can also walk along the Avenue of the Arts of the theater, starting near the United Negro College Fund headquarters and continuing along two rows of houses, all the way to the façade of Howard Theatre.

The Shaw neighborhood is named after Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, a member of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, consisting of black soldiers who fought in the Civil War. This area is nicknamed “Chocolate City’s Heart”, as escaped slaves settled here and eventually began serving the thriving African American community. Once you’ve absorbed its history, marvel at Shaw’s culinary scene.

Standing on The Steps of The Lincoln Memorial

The National Mall has been a significant historical site for Black History Month, including the March on Washington led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963 and the Million Man March in 1995. You can also marvel at the spot where King delivered his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech during the aforementioned March, as the location can be found etched on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Paying Respects at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Situated on a sprawling 4-acre plot within West Potomac Park, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial features a towering 30-foot statue of Dr. King carved into what is known as the Stone of Hope, standing atop two other granite pieces referred to as the Mountain of Despair (both allusions to his famous “I Have a Dream” speech). Explore the Inscription Wall on Black History Month to read remarkable quotes extracted from King’s speeches, lectures, and writings.

The Memorial, officially dedicated in 2011, serves as a poignant tribute to the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Visitors are encouraged to reflect on the profound impact of his work, which played a pivotal role in the American civil rights movement. The memorial’s design, with the statue of Dr. King gazing resolutely toward the horizon, symbolizes his enduring vision for a more just and equitable society.

Exploring Black Lives Matter Plaza

In June 2020, a section of 16th Street, just north of Lafayette Square, was transformed into a vibrant mural authorized by the city, conveying a powerful message of civil rights in bold yellow lettering. The site serves as an ideal space for reflection, not only on the Black History Month of DC but also on the broader history of the nation. This landmark is also a shining beacon for resistance, free speech, and the promotion of racial and social equality in America.

Black Lives Matter Plaza stands as a tangible expression of solidarity and a testament to the ongoing struggle for justice and equality of Black History Month. The bold yellow letters spell out the unequivocal message that has become a rallying cry for the movement, serving as a visual representation of the collective voice advocating for the rights and dignity of black individuals.

Watching “Stormy Weather” at Arena Stage

Arena Stage’s January 20th production unveils the struggle of Anna Julia Cooper, an African American educator fighting for the rights of students to access an advanced curriculum. In a scandal orchestrated by the government, during her time as the principal of M Street High School in DC’s history, Cooper faced sabotage from colleagues and neighbors. Witness the harrowing journey of this formidable black feminist as she fought for justice and equity in education in the early 20th century, spanning Black History Month from January 17th to February 16th.

The play “Stormy Weather” at Arena Stage delves into the historical backdrop of racial and gender discrimination within the educational system. Anna Julia Cooper’s unwavering commitment to ensuring quality education for black students and challenging the oppressive structures of her time is a testament to the resilience and strength of individuals fighting for justice.

Witness the Elegance of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

The renowned contemporary dance company is set to return to the Kennedy Center from February 6th to 11th with a program commemorating the company’s illustrious history and aiming to unite audiences in joy. The production will feature Ailey’s most iconic choreography, including the celebrated work “Revelations,” along with other masterpieces from modern dance maestros. Get ready to be mesmerized by the power of dance and the unity it brings.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre is synonymous with excellence and innovation in the world of dance. Founded by the legendary Alvin Ailey in 1958, the company has since been a trailblazer in showcasing the diversity and richness of the African American cultural experience through the language of movement.

Black History Month Shirts
Black History Month, Proud Black Woman T-shirt
Black History Month Period, Black History is Strong Shirt


In conclusion, Black History Month stands as a vital occasion to recognize, appreciate, and honor the profound impact of the Black community on the fabric of American history. With the 2024 theme centering around “African Americans and the Arts,” we have an exceptional opportunity to delve into the rich cultural contributions that have shaped not only the African American experience but the broader cultural landscape of the United States.