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Learn About Black History in Alexandria This February, Immersive Events Planned

A couple looks at the Loving marker on N. Royal St. (Photo: Adeday Dayo Kosoko for Visit Alexandria

ALEXANDRIA, VA – February is Black History Month. To bring about awareness and celebrate, Visit Alexandria today (Jan. 25) released a listing of events happening in the city. Take walking and bus tours, attend movie screenings, and much more. Deciding what you want to do this far ahead gives you plenty of time to plan. (All event summaries written by Visit Alexandria.)

Courtesy photo

Martin Luther King, Jr., Poster Exhibition
Throughout February 2023
Admission: Free

Vola Lawson Library at Alexandria City Hall, 301 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

See the entries from the 2023 Martin Luther King, Jr. Poster Exhibition on view in the Lawson Lobby of City Hall. More than 120 drawings from Alexandria City Public School students are featured. 

Our Faces in Film Series

February 3, 2023, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.: “Brown Sugar”

February 10, 2023, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.: “The Wiz”

February 14, 2023, from 6 to 7:45 p.m.: “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
February 17, 2023, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.: “Soul”
February 24, 2023, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.: “Harriet”
Admission: Free
Charles E. Beatley, Jr., Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
703-746-1702
alexlibraryva.org

All month long for Black History Month, Charles Beatley Central Library will show films featuring African American lead characters. Join for great films and snacks.

Storytime in the Reading Garden: Black Authors and Illustrators
February 6, 2023, from 11 to 11:30 a.m.
Admission: Free
Charles E. Beatley, Jr., Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
703-746-1702
alexlibraryva.org

Bring your little one to Beatley Central Library’s beautiful outdoor Reading Garden for stories, songs and movement. Children ages 0-5 are welcome with an adult. Please dress for the weather. Yoga mats are available to sit on. Stop by the Children’s Desk for a ticket for entry, available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 10:30 a.m. Sign up to receive cancellation notices in the event of inclement weather.

Manumission Tour at Edmonson Sisters Statue (Photo: Chris Cruz for Visit Alexandria)

Manumission Tour Company Black History Bus Tour
February 11, 2023, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 12 to 1:30 p.m.
Admission: $30 per person
Tour meets at the Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
703-719-2150
manumissiontours.com

Ride with Manumission Tour Company on a 90-minute guided bus tour to visit various African American historic sites in Alexandria. You will hear stories of both enslaved and free African Americans prior to the Civil War as well as understand the stories behind some of Alexandria’s most well-known African American historic sites. Sites will include the Alexandria National Cemetery, Alfred Street Baptist Church, Shiloh Baptist Church, Church Alley, the African American Heritage Park, the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery, Barrett Library and more.

Story Time for Young Historians
February 11, 2023, beginning at 11 a.m.
Admission: Free
Charles E. Beatley, Jr., Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
703-746-1702
shop.alexandriava.gov

History is around every corner in Alexandria. Learn about African American history and icons with stories and activities to inspire young, curious minds. Story Time with Young Historians is a monthly program, historically held at the Alexandria Black History Museum. During the pandemic, the ABHM partnered with the Alexandria Library to present the programs virtually. Now back in person, the Black History Month session will be held at Alexandria’s Beatley Library. Appropriate for children ages 5 to 8; masks are required.

History of African Americans at Arlington National Cemetery
February 11, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Admission: Free; registration preferred
Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
703-746-1703
alexlibraryva.org

African Americans have been connected to Arlington National Cemetery since its origins as a plantation through the Freedman’s Village to the trailblazers of the Civil Rights Movement. Learn about the connection of African Americans to Arlington National Cemetery from National Park Service Supervisory Ranger Kenya Finley-Jean, of the Civil War Defenses of Washington Division. Registration is preferred.

Lecture: Exposing the Alexandria Slave Pen
February 13, 2023, beginning at 7 p.m.
Admission: Free
Alexandria’s History Museum at The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
703-746-4994
shop.alexandriava.gov

Join City of Alexandria Archaeologist Dr. Benjamin Skolnik as he explores the visual history of 1315 Duke Street in Alexandria, Virginia. Now the Freedom House Museum, the site was once the location where several 19th century dealers trafficked enslaved men, women and children to the Deep South. Dr. Skolnik will look at period photographs and illustrations of the building and share what they tell us about the building and the businesses which operated from 1315 Duke Street.

Courtesy photo/Zebra file photo

Lecture + Short Film: Fort Reno Park
February 16, 2023, beginning at 7 p.m.
Admission: Free
Alexandria’s History Museum at The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
703-746-4994
shop.alexandriava.gov

At Fort Reno Park, near Tenleytown, an important chapter in the history of Washington, D.C.’s Black community is barely visible to the modern-day visitor. Fort Reno was a bustling neighborhood in which men, women, and children lived, died, loved, worked, worshippe, and played. Brian Taylor (author of Fighting for Citizenship [UNC Press, 2020]), Miriam Gusevich (Catholic University) and Martin Paddack (Howard University) will share their work on the history of the Fort Reno neighborhood and their efforts to bring this history to the public. It builds on Brian Taylor’s “On the Fort: The Fort Reno Community of Washington, D.C., 1861-1951,” the official National Park Service report, and benefits from Gusevich’s expertise in urban design and Paddack’s work in the field of architecture.

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Concert: Washington Revels Jubilee Voices 2023
February 18, 2023, beginning at 2 p.m.
Admission: Free
Alexandria’s History Museum at The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
703-746-4994
shop.alexandriava.gov

The Washington Revels Jubilee Voices ensemble is committed to the preservation of African American history and traditions—presenting songs and stories of struggle and perseverance, trials and triumphs, as expressed through a cappella music, drama and dance. Established in 2010, the group now performs regularly throughout the Washington, D.C, area, singing, sharing and learning the stories of the people in those communities.

African Americans and Clara Barton
February 21, 2023, from 1 to 2 p.m.
Admission: Free
Virtual via Zoom
alexlibraryva.org

Join Park Ranger Kevin Patti from the National Park Service to learn about Clara Barton’s work with African Americans during the Civil War and with the American Red Cross. Clara Barton lived through the Civil War, Reconstruction and beyond. Discover the fascinating history of her experience working with and for African Americans. This talk will highlight her work with the African American soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment as they stormed Fort Wagner. The talk will focus on her long-standing advocacy for African American rights and will explore the history of the American Red Cross relief effort Clara Barton led to help African Americans affected by the Sea Islands South Carolina hurricane of 1893.

Black History Cooking Demonstration
February 23, 2023, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Admission: Free
Charles E. Beatley, Jr., Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
703-746-1702
alexlibraryva.org

The creator and chef of Black Folk Food will prepare a handful of dishes, share a brief history and demonstrate what makes the cuisine so amazing.

Black History Live with Culture Queen
February 26, 2023, from 2 to 3 p.m.
Admission: Free
Charles E. Beatley, Jr., Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
703-746-1702
alexlibraryva.org

Experience original and interactive music, movement and storytelling to help your royal children celebrate the kings and queens of African American History. With a renewed sense of confidence, cultural awareness and curiosity for exploring the world around them, kids will leave proudly exclaiming, “I like the me I see!” Note that this program will be held indoors. Please arrive early as space is limited.

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Kevin Dauray

Kevin is Publisher's Assistant with The Zebra Press. He has been working for Alexandria's "Good News" newspaper since 2019. A graduate of George Mason University, he earned a bachelor's in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He is an alumnus of T.C. Williams High School. Go Titans!

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