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Celebrating Black History Month

February events throughout the District focus on African-American heritage

(Published February 11, 2002)

Numerous special events are planned throughout the month of February at locations around the city in celebration of Black History Month.

• Among major events, the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation will host the 16th Annual Black History Invitational Swim Meet Feb. 15-17 at the Capital East Natatorium on Capitol Hill.

More than 500 swimmers, 18 and younger, from 26 cities are expected to compete in this year’s meet. The event is open to spectators for free.

Each year, the meet salutes an African-American whose contributions and achievements set new standards in the person’s respective field of endeavor and helped open doors for the next generation of African-Americans.

This year’s event honors the legacy of the late William H. Rumsey, who was the city’s former recreation director as well as an educator and an Army colonel.

"The swim meet mirrors his dedication to our younger generation and gives youth a national spotlight to showcase their talents," said Neil O. Albert, current director of parks and recreation.

The swim meet, founded in 1987 by the city’s recreation department in conjunction with the United Black Fund, was originally established to provide urban young people nationwide with exposure to organized competition and an opportunity to visit the nation’s capital. Last year, 30 swim clubs competed in more than 70 events.

• The D.C. Courts have announced a series of free family-oriented events every Wednesday this month at noon to commemorate Black History Month.

On Feb. 13, the courts’ program will be devoted to "She-roes," saluting African-American women through musical selections, poetry and a panel discussion. The event will take place in the Jurors Lounge, Room 3100 of the Moultrie Building, 500 Indiana Ave. NW.

Miss District of Columbia, Marshawn Evans, will talk about her work with young people and crime prevention programs. The H.D. Woodson Senior High School Concert Choir will perform. Chief Judge Annice Wagner of the D.C. Court of Appeals and Judge Anita Josey-Herring, deputy presiding judge of the Family Court, will discuss their "she-roes."

The Feb. 20 program, entitled "A Child’s Story," will include performances by the DCScores Poetry Slam! winners from Beers Elementary School and choirs from Cardozo Senior High School and Bruce Monroe Elementary School. Daniel Roberson, an honor student at Georgetown Prep in Rockville, also will be featured.

"The Black Family Reunion Extravaganza" on Feb. 27 will feature a discussion about "Overcoming Obstacles" in which three local families will participate. Woodson High’s Jazz Combo will accompany a dance performance by Woodson students. African art will be displayed and traditional African-American foods will be served.

The Feb. 20 and Feb. 27 events will be held in Court Building B at 409 E St. NW.

• The National Park Service will present a free program at 10 a.m. Feb. 22 at Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW, to highlight African-Americans who knew President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. Among the historic figures featured will be Frederick Douglass, as well as individuals who served the Lincolns for personal services.

Advance reservations are required for this program and may be made by calling (202) 426-6924.

• Decatur House Museum will present free programs throughout the day on Feb. 23 featuring songs, crafts and the social history of African-Americans in the District of Columbia. For more information, call (202) 842-0918.

• The Negro Baseball Leagues will be the subject of a special event at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW.

Speaker John Holway will show slides from his books on the Negro Leagues and the evening’s special guest will be Wilmer Fields, who pitched for the Washington Homestead Grays in the team’s winning 1948 season. A reception sponsored by Friends of the Washingtoniana Division of the library will follow the talks.

• Several other Black History Month events throughout February are planned by the D.C. Public Library system. These events include showing of the film "Minnie the Moocher" at noon Feb. 11 in Room A-5A of the main library; as well as the "Black Deaf Community Acknowledgement Commemorating Miller vs. the Board of Education — 50 Years Later" at 6 p.m. Feb. 13 in Room A-5 of the main library.

•The life of Benjamin Banneker, a founding architect of the nation’s capital, will be featured in a performance from 4-6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 sponsored by the Washington Interdependence Council. The performance will include rap music and other musical selections, poetry and American History Theatre actor Bob Smith portraying Banneker. For more information, call (202) 387-3380.

• The Arts Club of Washington’s Feb. 27 luncheon will focus on "The Impact of the Work of African-American Architects on the Nation’s Capital." Arts Club member and local preservationist Charles Cassell will moderate a panel of local architects.

Admission to the luncheon is $15 and reservations must be made before Feb. 22 by calling the Arts Club at (202) 331-7282 ext. 21.

• Many local churches have planned special Black History Month events. Among the free public events, Greater New Hope Baptist Church at 816 Eye St. NW will host "African-American Men Sing Songs of Praise" at 6 p.m. Feb. 17. Free tickets are required for admission and are available by contacting the church.

• Several business establishments also will sponsor special Black History Month events throughout the month.

Among them, Cada Vez Restaurant, 1438 U St. NW, will hold a "Black History Celebration Reception and An Evening of Poetry and Entertainment" from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 20. For more information, call (202) 667-2500.

Fresh Fields/Whole Foods Market also will celebrate Black History Month with a reception, poetry and music from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at its Logan Circle store at 14th and P streets NW.

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator