As part of its inaugural Locally Grown Festival Theater J is presenting the world premiere of The Hampton Years. Written by Jacqueline E. Lawton and directed by Shirley Serotsky, The Hampton Years explores the development of African-American artists, John Biggers and Samella Lewis while under the tutelage of Austrian Jewish refugee painter and educator, Viktor Lowenfeld during their time at Hampton Institute – now Hampton University - during WWII. As the play unfolds it reveals the dreams and travails of young artists in a still segregated society while examining the impact of World War II on a Jewish immigrant and his wife finding shelter in the US and his controversial influence in shaping the careers of African American students. The Hampton Years runs through June 30.
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The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is making U Street, Howard University, Shaw, and Logan Circle the focus of its free community engagement activities in January 2013. Between January 8 and 14, members of the NSO are breaking into small ensembles to perform chamber music and educational activities as requested by community organizations. The NSO has worked with approximately 20 partners in these communities, and has agreed to fulfill more than 30 activities requested by the neighborhoods. Venues include the Lincoln Theater, Florida Avenue Baptist Church, Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium, Whole Foods and Dahlak Eritrean Restaurant.
The culminating event in the will be a concert by the full NSO at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium, January 14, at 7 p.m. which will be led by NSO Music Director Christoph Eschenbach and NSO Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke. The celebrated soprano Jessye Norman, a graduate of Howard University, will perform, and the program will include the Washington premiere of George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 4, co-commissioned by the NSO. Events are free but some do require registration in advance. View the full schedule here.
The year 2013 marks two historic milestones in American history, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the National Archives are recognizing these events.
Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963, opens December 14, 2012 at NMAAHC’s temporary gallery on level two at American History. The exhibition, features historic photographs, paintings, new film footage and objects, that explores the historical context of these two crucial events, their accomplishments and limitations, and their impact on the generations that followed. The exhibit runs through September 2013.
The National Archives will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with a free special display of the original document from December 30, 2012 through January 1, 2013. The Emancipation Proclamation is displayed only for a limited time each year because of its fragility, which can be made worse by exposure to light, and the need to preserve it for future generations. Other special programs marking the 150th anniversary will be held throughout the year.
October 26 and 27 over 40 great minds are coming together to help inspire attendees at the Harman Center for the Arts to unlock their own greatness and to Be Fearless. TEDxMidAtlantic 2012: BE FEARLESS will celebrate the power of ideas to positively change the world; while aiming to build community by bringing together like-minded people who believe in said mission. Speakers include Colin Powell, Jose Antonio Vargas, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski and Melody Barnes. Tickets can be purchased for either or both days of the event.
Registration is now open for the 7th annual DC Public Schools (DCPS) Beautification Day on Saturday, August 25, 2012 from 8:00am to 1:00pm. This annual DCPS event was established in 2005 as a citywide “spruce up” of all DC public school buildings in preparation for the first day of school. Volunteers are needed at over 100 schools. Efforts will include landscaping, trash pick-up, light painting, planting flowers, setting up classrooms, creating leveled book rooms and other beautification efforts. DCPS will provide the supplies, water and a t-shirt. You will provide a great service to your community!
The AIDS Memorial Quilt was started in June of 1987 to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS, and to be used as a tool to help the world understand the impact of the disease. More than 20 years later the Quilt remains a reminder of a pandemic that still exists. As Washington, DC hosts the International AIDS Conference, sections of the Quilt are on display on The National Mall and at more than 40 other locations throughout the Washington, D.C. area from July 21- 25. Most venues will be open from 10 am to 5 pm during this time.
The Quilt consisting of 48,000 panels has rarely wholly been on display. With the advancement of technology however, a collaboration of researchers and academicians have created a digitized quilt that allows for more accessibility and the ability to search panels by name.
If you are interested in expressing yourself, ONE and (RED) recently launched (2015) Quilt to engage a new generation in fighting the pandemic where anyone can create a panel. Learn more about their campaign for the beginning of the end of AIDS here.
On April 14, Centric, in partnership with the Office of Cable Television, celebrates the freeing of slaves in Washington, DC with the DC Emancipation Day 150th Anniversary Great Debate. Nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln freed the enslaved workers and laborers of DC making them the first freed by the federal government.
In 1858 there was a seven debate series between Democratic Senate nominee Abraham Lincoln and Republican Senate nominee Stephen Douglas dealing with many issues Lincoln would face as President. The main issue discussed throughout the series was slavery and brought forth Lincoln’s famous quote “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half-slave and half-free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”
The DC Emancipation Day 150th Anniversary Great Debate will address key matters affecting African Americans today. The economy, unemployment, health care, education and the upcoming Presidential election may all be covered in the 90 minute program. There will be four panelists (confirmed to date are Georgetown University professor/author Michael Eric Dyson and minister/civil rights activist/radio & television host Reverend Al Sharpton). BET News’ TJ Holmes will moderate the session where each panelist will have ten minutes to state their position on a topic and five minutes will be allocated for rebuttals.
The DC Emancipation Day 150th Anniversary Great Debate will be held at the historic Lincoln Theatre located in the urban cultural U Street corridor from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. The Office of Cable Television will live stream the event on their website and a feed will be available to BET.com/Centrictv.com to live stream as well. Centric will edit down the debate into an hour show to broadcast at a later date.
Wednesday, March 7th the National Urban League will release their 2012 State of Black America Report and have what they are calling one of the most important pre-election events of the year, a town hall style meeting in Cramton Auditorium at Howard University at 7:00pm. If you can’t be there in person, you can view the live webcast that evening at www.iamempowered.com. You can also be a part of the national conversation on Facebook and Twitter (#SOBA 12, #OccupyTheVote).
This year’s State of Black America report and town hall will launch a year-long campaign, “Occupy the Vote to Educate, Employ & Empower.” In addition to a fuller discussion of our “Occupy the Vote” campaign, this year’s State of Black America report and town hall will include a discussion of the Equality Index — a statistical analysis of the status of Blacks, Hispanics and Whites. The report will also contain essays by a host of political, business, and community leaders including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, singer John Legend, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, entrepreneur and author Steve Stouts, and others with prescriptions for the empowerment and education crisis facing the nation.
In Act I Craig Wallace in the role of Frederick Douglass states it plain that ‘emancipation is not abolition’ and that he believes the Civil War is being fought for several reasons but the abolition of slavery and full equality of Negro people isn’t one of them. The drama unfolds from there, in the world premiere staging of Necessary Sacrifices, a work written by Richard Hellesen and commissioned by the Ford’s Theatre Society as a part of their Lincoln Legacy Project. The goal of the five year artistic and educational initiative is to spark dialogue and engage people of different viewpoints in thoughtful discussions around issues of tolerance and understanding.
The script by Hellesen brings just that, two differing viewpoints about the cause and lasting effects of the Civil War on the United States and all that dwell within. Necessary Sacrifices takes artistic license and allows the audience to sit inside the office of Abraham Lincoln in the summers of 1863 and 1864 – during the height of the Civil War – and watch what the two of the documented meetings between Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, wonderfully played by David Selby may have been like. The production is truly about the script and the ideas and challenges that both men wrestled with. Lincoln was charged with holding together a young nation during the most difficult time it had ever faced, rooted in deep feelings about dealing with a very difficult political and social issue. As the President of the United States he walked a thin line balancing his beliefs with those of his advisors, politicos and even the Constitution. During several scenes it weighs heavy on Lincoln as he explains to Douglass that unlike most men, he doesn’t have the burden to worry about just his house, for his responsibility is to be accountable for all the homes in America. Lincoln offers at one point, “what I believe is secondary to what I must do.’
Douglass still challenges Lincoln to act swiftly and with strength to use his executive powers to bring about change rather than wait for it. Ironically, when Douglass made his visits to the President’s office, he was just miles away from where he once lived as a young slave. Lincoln and Douglass were two distinctly different men with often two different answers to the questions of why, how and when as it related to the Civil War but the playwright suggests that over time they did both agree on an answer of a ‘what’ for the end of the Civil War.
The minimal set, lighting and flow in direction provided by Jennifer L. Nelson create an appropriate incubator for the thoughts and themes to live and grow on stage and in the minds of the audience. Sprinkled with humor and good storytelling the script lends itself well particularly to Selby who has played Lincoln before at Ford’s Theatre with great acclaim.
Necessary Sacrifices runs through February 18. Following the production, on February 21 the Ford’s Theatre Campus will open the Center for Education and Leadership. Located directly across the street from the theatre, the Center will feature several floors of permanent and rotating exhibits that look at Lincoln’s death and evolving legacy.
When the name Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is heard many words come to mind, words like – dreams, freedom, hope, equality and justice. Yet, years after his death, after a national holiday has been proclaimed in his honor, post the unveiling of a monument bearing his likeness on the National Mall and his life and leadership explored in all forms of visual art, music, literature and performance there are some things with his name on it that don’t always bring to mind the words that are associated with him or his legacy.
In cities throughout the United States, streets, boulevards and avenues bearing the name Martin Luther King Jr. often bring to mind words like poverty, segregation, injustice and despair. It is a very stark contrast to the dream that Dr. King was known for promoting. Comedians have joked for years that when you want to find where the poor African American population is located in any major American city you simply have to find your way to MLK and what you find, you may not like.
In the documentary film, The MLK Streets Project this connection, or disconnection between the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. and the reality of MLK streets is explored. Through funding support of One Common Unity and A Nu View filmmaking program, eight Washington, DC high school students, were able to travel across the country and collect video and interviews for the film and produce this documentary. The footage and interviews tell the stories of progress and pause through the eyes of the residents in each city and the lens of these young filmmakers.
The Black Philanthropic Alliance in partnership with Woolly Mammoth Theater and the emerging creative powers of Straight, No Chaser Films will present a screening of The MLK Streets Project along with a community discussion Monday, January 9, 2012 at the Woolly Mammoth Theater, 641 D Street NW from 5:30pm – 8:00pm. The panelists for the community discussion include Rain Pryor, Terrie Freeman, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region, Ray Bell Jr. of the HOPE Project and Joseph Speight of Friendship Southeast Elementary Academy.
Learn more here.