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Black History Month Events and Experiences in Alexandria, Virginia Throughout February

Rebecca Doser, [email protected] or 703-652-5363
Claire Mouledoux, [email protected] or 703-652-5367

Black History Month Events and Experiences in Alexandria, Virginia Throughout February

Alexandria, VA— African American history has shaped Alexandria and the United States, from D.C.’s onetime southern cornerstone laid by self-taught mathematician Benjamin Banneker to the site of one of the nation’s earliest sit-in protests and more. Discover historical sites spanning 275 years of Black history and culture in Alexandria this February and year-round.

This year, new Black history experiences abound with traveling exhibition “Searching for Truth in the Garden” at Freedom House Museum through April 15, 2024, and interpretive signage along the self-guided African American Waterfront Heritage Trail. Plus, throughout Black History Month, participate in a range of activities including a Manumission Tour Company Black History bus tour, film screenings of African American cinematic classics and more.

Explore more ways to celebrate Black history and culture throughout February and year-round on Visit Alexandria’s Black History and Culture landing page.

Black History Month Events & Experiences

Exhibit: “Searching for Truth in the Garden” at Freedom House Museum
Now until April 15, 2024
Admission: $5 per adult, $3 per child (ages 5-12) and free for City of Alexandria residents
Freedom House Museum, 1315 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Gonzaga High School’s groundbreaking research on slavery, “Searching for Truth in the Garden,” found new life at the Freedom House Museum. The traveling exhibition, on view through April 15, 2024, delves into the life of Gabriel, a teenager enslaved at Washington Seminary (now Gonzaga) in 1829. Gabriel’s story offers a poignant lens through which to examine the complexities of slavery and its lasting impact.

African American Emancipation in an Occupied City Book Launch
February 3, 2024, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Admission: Free
Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Hear from editor Audrey Davis and the authors of African American Emancipation in an Occupied City, which tells the story of formerly enslaved and self-emancipated people in a newly occupied city during the Civil War. They sought refuge in Alexandria, coming with only hopes and dreams for life as free people. They came seeking freedom, but many did not live long in it. Those who survived used their labor for the cause of freedom. A book signing will follow after the authors’ presentations. The event is free, but online registration is encouraged.

African American Film Series
February 8, 2024, from 2 to 4 p.m.: “Banker”
February 29, 2024, from 2 to 4 p.m.: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Admission: Free
Ellen Coolidge Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Roud Suite 104, Alexandria, VA 22304

In honor of Black History Month, the library will be showing a series of films throughout the month.

Manumission Tour Company Black History Bus Tour
February 10, 2024, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 12 to 1:30 p.m.
February 17, 2024, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.
Admission: $35 per person
Tour meets at the Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

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.

African American Waterfront Heritage Trail Signs Ribbon Cutting
February 10, 2024, beginning at 11 a.m.
Admission: Free
New Fishtown sign on the river side of Founders Park, 351 N. Union Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

The African American Heritage Trail Committee invites the public to join in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the installation of new interpretive signs along Alexandria’s historic waterfront. The 11 signs and two orientation panels illuminate the history of the African American community in Alexandria over the span of several centuries. The event will begin at 11 a.m. at the new Fishtown sign on the river side of Founders Park (351 N. Union Stret). A reception following the ribbon cutting will be held in the Overlook Room (#325) on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union Street. This event will be rain or shine. Please note: You do not need to print off tickets. Your name will be on the registration list for the event.

Concert: Washington Revels Jubilee Voices
February 18, 2024, from 2 to 3 p.m.
Admission: Free
Alexandria’s History Museum at The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Join Washington Revels Jubilee Voices for an exploration of the Gullah-Geechee culture and life in St. Simons Island, Georgia. This multimedia program, “Wade in the Water,” was developed in partnership with Mercer University, blending songs and stories of the Gullah Geechee community and featuring six student films that capture the history, lives and spirit of these proud people, whose numbers are dwindling due to several factors, including increasing development. The event is free, but online registration is encouraged.

Virtual Documentary Viewing: “Still Bill”
February 21, 2024, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Admission: Free
Virtual via Zoom

For African American History Month, enjoy a virtual screening of the documentary “Still Bill” about music legend and Hall of Famer, Bill Withers. Please register with an email address to receive the screening link. Registration closes at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.

Black Dance: Housing the Past and the Present
February 22, 2024, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Admission: Free
Virtual via Zoom

Join a virtual presentation exploring how colonialism brought an end to authentic African dance with Associate Professor of Dance at George Mason University Lawrence M. Jackson, who in 2011 co-authored and edited a special edition on Black dance in the Journal of Pan African Studies. In this presentation, he explains how Black dance keeps those African cultural traditions alive and is an affirmation of identity and independence.

Alma Thomas Art
February 24, 2024, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Admission: Free
Beth Patridge Meeting Room in James M. Duncan Jr. Branch Library, 2501 Commonwealth Ave., Alexandria, VA 22301

Celebrate the close of Black History Month by creating your own art piece inspired by Alma Thomas. All materials will be provided. The event is for children ages 6 to 12 and teens.

Bright Star Theatre: George Washington Carver and Friends
February 27, 2024, from 6 to 7 p.m.
Admission: Free
Charles E. Beatley Jr. Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22304

Meet Black entrepreneurs and groundbreakers like George Washington Carver, Madame CJ Walker, Thurgood Marshall and more in this interactive theater performance. The event is for children grades K to 5.

Burke Book Club: “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
February 28, 2024, from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
Admission: Free
Virtual via Zoom

In honor of Black History Month, join a virtual Zoom discussion put on by Ellen Coolidge Burke Branch Library on the 1952 classic novel, “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison. This program will take place by Zoom and registration is required. After registering, you will be emailed the link to join this Zoom meeting. If you have questions about the program or need help with set up, please contact Caroline at [email protected].

Recognized by Travel + Leisure among the Best Cities in the U.S. 2023 and voted a Condé Nast Traveler Top 3 Best Small City in the U.S. 2023, Alexandria is a welcoming weekend escape on the Potomac River, minutes from Washington, D.C. Founded in 1749 and boasting the nation’s third oldest historic district, Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan feel. Stroll Old Town Alexandria’s King Street mile to find more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques plus intimate historic museums and new happenings at the waterfront. Explore vibrant neighborhoods beyond Old Town, trace George Washington and the Founding Fathers’ footsteps and follow the stories of Black Americans who shaped the history of Alexandria and the United States.

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