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Black history

If you live in or around the District of Columbia, you have a unique opportunity to explore and celebrate the rich history and culture of African Americans. In this blog post, I will share with you some of the best places to visit and learn about the achievements, struggles, and contributions of Black people in America. Whether you are a history buff, an art lover, or a curious traveler, you will find something to inspire and enlighten you on this journey.

Recognizing Black History and Icons

Black history is American history. It is a history that spans from slavery to civil rights, from oppression to liberation, from segregation to integration, from invisibility to prominence. It is a history showcasing Black people’s resilience, creativity, and excellence in every field and aspect of life.


Black icons are role models and leaders who have shaped and influenced the course of history. They are activists and visionaries who have fought for justice and equality. They are artists and innovators who have enriched and transformed the culture. They are heroes and legends who have left a lasting legacy for generations to come.


By recognizing and honoring Black history and icons, we not only acknowledge the past, but we also empower the present and the future. We learn from the mistakes and successes of those who came before us. We appreciate the diversity and beauty of our shared humanity. We inspire ourselves and others to pursue our dreams and make a positive difference in the world.

African Americans
honoring Black history

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Beginning the Journey

The nation’s capital is home to many museums, monuments, and landmarks that celebrate and commemorate Black history and icons. Here are some of the places that you should not miss on your journey:

Museum of African American History

National Museum of African American History and Culture

This is the newest and most popular museum in the Smithsonian Institution. It opened in 2016 and has welcomed millions of visitors since then. It is the only national museum dedicated exclusively to documenting African American life, history, and culture. It covers topics such as slavery, emancipation, segregation, civil rights, music, sports, arts, religion, politics, and more. It also features interactive exhibits, artifacts, films, photographs, and personal stories that bring the history to life.

Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum

This museum focuses on the social and cultural issues that affect urban communities, especially those of African Americans. It was founded in 1967 as a grassroots initiative to serve the predominantly Black neighborhood of Anacostia. It has since expanded its scope to include other communities in Washington DC and beyond. It offers exhibitions, programs, events, and publications that explore topics such as community activism, environmental justice, health equity, education reform, immigration, gentrification, and more.

African American Civil War Memorial Museum

This museum honors the service and sacrifice of over 200,000 Black soldiers and sailors who fought for freedom in the Civil War. It displays photographs, documents, uniforms, weapons, flags, medals, and other memorabilia that tell the stories of these brave men. It also features a memorial sculpture that lists the names of all the Black units that participated in the war.

National Museum of African Art

This museum showcases the artistic expressions of Africa and its diaspora. It has one of the largest collections of African art in the world, with over 12,000 objects from ancient to contemporary times. It exhibits works from various regions, cultures, styles, genres, and media such as sculptures, paintings, textiles, jewelry, ceramics, masks, and more. It also offers educational programs, performances, workshops, and lectures that promote cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

This site preserves the home and legacy of Frederick Douglass, one of the most influential and eloquent abolitionists and civil rights leaders in American history. He lived here from 1877 to 1895, after escaping from slavery and becoming a renowned writer, orator, and activist. You can tour his house, which contains many original furnishings and personal items. You can also see his library, where he wrote his speeches and books; his study, where he met with other prominent figures; and his tomb, where he is buried with his wife.

Mary McLeod Bethune Council House

This house was the residence and headquarters of Mary McLeod Bethune, one of the most influential and respected educators and civil rights leaders in the 20th century. She founded the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) in 1935, an organization that advocated for the rights and welfare of Black women and their communities. She also served as an advisor to several presidents, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. You can learn more about her life and achievements through exhibits, films, and guided tours.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

This memorial honors the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., the most prominent and revered leader of the civil rights movement. It is located on the National Mall, near the Lincoln Memorial, where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. It features a 30-foot statue of King, carved from granite, that symbolizes his vision of hope and justice. It also has a wall inscribed with 14 quotes from his speeches and writings, that reflect his ideals of democracy, equality, and peace.

Directions for your Journey

Anacostia Community Museum

1901 Fort Pl SE, Washington, DC 20020, United States
  1. Head northwest on Fort Pl SE for 16 ft
  2. Continue onto Erie St SE for 0.2 mi
  3. Continue onto Morris Rd SE for 0.3 mi
  4. Turn right onto Hunter Pl SE and continue for 0.1 mi
  5. Turn left onto Pomeroy Rd SE and continue for 167 ft
  6. Continue onto 16th St SE for 0.2 mi
  7. Turn left onto W St SE.
    1. The destination will be on the left after 0.1 mi

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

1411 W St SE, Washington, DC 20020, United States
  1. Take 13th St SE to Marion Barry Ave SE for 2 min (0.3 mi)
    1. Head west on W St SE toward 14th St SE for 0.2 mi
    2. Turn right onto 13th St SE and continue for 0.2 mi
  2. Take Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE, 11th St SE, I-695 W and I-395 S to Independence Ave SW for 9 min (3.3 mi)
    1. Turn left onto Marion Barry Ave SE and continue for 459 ft
    2. Turn right onto Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE and continue for 0.4 mi
    3. Continue onto 11th St SE for 0.3 mi
    4. Use the left 2 lanes to turn left to merge onto I-695 W and continue for 1.3 mi
    5. Use the right lane to merge onto I-395 S and continue for 0.4 mi
    6. Use the right 2 lanes to take the Maine Ave exit and continue for 0.2 mi
    7. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for 12th St/Downtown and continue for 0.2 mi
    8. Keep left at the fork, follow signs for D St and continue for 358 ft
    9. Turn right onto 12th St SW and continue for 0.2 mi
    10. Turn right onto Independence Ave SW and continue for 0.1 mi

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

950 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, United States
  1. Take 12th St Expy to 12th St NW for 1 min (0.4 mi)
    1. Head west on Independence Ave SW toward 12th St SW for 0.1 mi
    2. Turn right onto 12th St SW and continue for 0.1 mi
    3. Slight right onto 12th St Expy and continue for 0.2 mi
  2. Continue on 12th St NW to 11th St NW for 3 min (0.5 mi)
    1. Continue straight onto 12th St NW for 0.4 mi
    2. Turn right onto G St NW and continue for 292 ft
  3. Continue on 11th St NW. Drive to Vermont Ave NW for 8 min (1.3 mi)
    1. Turn left at the 1st cross street onto 11th St NW and continue for 0.8 mi
    2. Continue straight to stay on 11th St NW for 0.3 mi
    3. Slight right onto Vermont Ave NW and continue for 0.2 mi

African American Civil War Museum

1925 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States
  1. Head northeast on Vermont Ave NW toward U St NW for 276 ft
  2. Turn right onto U St NW and continue for 374 ft
  3. Turn right onto 9th St NW and continue for 0.4 mi
  4. Turn right onto Rhode Island Ave NW and continue for 0.2 mi
  5. Continue straight to stay on Rhode Island Ave NW for 0.1 mi
  6. At the traffic circle, take the 5th exit onto Vermont Ave NW.
    1. The destination will be on the right after 0.2 mi

Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site

1318 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005, United States
  1. Head southwest on Vermont Ave NW toward N St NW for 0.1 mi
  2. Turn left onto 14th St NW and continue for 157 ft
  3. At the traffic circle, take the 4th exit and stay on 14th St NW for 1.1 mi
  4. Turn right onto Madison Dr NW.
    1. The destination will be on the right after 75 ft

National Museum of African American History and Culture

1400 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560, United States
  1. Head west on Madison Dr NW toward 15th St NW for 246 ft
  2. Turn left onto 15th St NW and continue for 0.2 mi
  3. Turn right onto Independence Ave SW and continue for 0.9 mi
  4. Turn left onto Ohio Dr SW and continue for 0.3 mi
  5. Turn left onto West Basin Dr SW and continue for 0.2 mi

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20004, United States
  1. Get on I-66 W from Independence Ave SW and Ohio Dr SW for 4 min (1.1 mi)
    1. Head north on West Basin Dr SW for 463 ft
    2. Turn left onto Independence Ave SW and continue for 0.3 mi
    3. Continue onto Ohio Dr SW for 0.3 mi
    4. Use the right lane to keep left for 89 ft
    5. Keep right and continue for 459 ft
    6. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for I-66 W and merge onto I-66 W for 0.3 mi
  2. Continue on I-66 W. Take VA-267 W and VA-28 N to VA-7 E in Loudoun County. Take the VA-7 E exit from VA-28 N for 29 min (29.1 mi)
    1. Merge onto I-66 W (Toll road, Entering Virginia) for 8.1 mi
    2. Keep right at the fork to continue on VA-267 W, follow signs for Dulles Arpt/I-495 N/Baltimore for 2.1 mi
    3. Use the right lane to take the VA-267 W exit toward I-495 for 0.2 mi
    4. Continue onto VA-267 W (Toll road) for 12.3 mi
    5. Use the right 2 lanes to stay on VA-267 W (Toll road) for 0.2 mi
    6. Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 9B to merge onto VA-28 N toward Sterling for 5.8 mi
    7. Exit onto VA-7 E toward Tysons Corner/Falls Church for 0.4 mi
  3. Continue on VA-7 E. Drive to Lake Center Plaza in Potomac Falls for 4 min (1.5 mi)
    1. Merge onto VA-7 E for 1.3 mi
    2. Use the 2nd from the left lane to turn left onto VA-1795 for 0.1 mi
    3. Turn right onto Lake Center Plaza.
      1. The destination will be on the left after 420 ft

Portrait and Headshot Photographer JOY RAHAT

46090 Lake Center Plaza STE 209, Sterling, VA 20165, United States
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