WASHINGTON -- Few cities are as well positioned as Washington to
capitalize on the tourism potential of Black History Month, which
is celebrated during February.
Benjamin Banneker, a black engineer and astronomer, became the
key designer of the city in the 1790s after the original architect,
Pierre L'Enfant, was fired by Secretary of State Thomas
Years later, Washington became a focal point of the underground
railroad and the civil rights movement.
It was home to abolitionist Frederick Douglass, educator Mary
McLeod Bethune and jazz musician Duke Ellington.
Today it is home to some of the best-known African-American
sites in the U.S.
So it is no surprise that Washington's museums, tour operators
and hotels are going all out to promote Black History Month.
In addition, the Washington Convention and Visitors Association
published a new African-American Historical Attractions Guide
featuring information about African-American historical sites,
heritage tours, churches and galleries.
The free guide can be obtained by calling the WCVA at (202)
During the month of February, Tourmobile Sightseeing is offering
a daily three-hour tour of Cedar Hill, Douglass' former home.
It is one of the best ways to get a feel of African-American
life in the 19th century, as a Tourmobile narrator re-creates the
city of Washington and tells of Douglass' struggle for the rights
of women and minorities.
The tour departs at noon each day from the Washington Monument
and includes other sites important to African-Americans such as the
Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial, Lincoln Park and Arlington National
For additional information about the tour, call (202)
Preformed groups of 20 or more looking for African-American
heritage tours of Washington can call Capital Entertainment
Services at (202) 636-9203.
Among other special events taking place this month is a
30-minute tour called Slave Life at Mount Vernon at the former home
of George Washington.
The tour outlines the lives and contributions of the slaves who
built the plantation.
For details, call (703) 780-2000.
The Capital Children's Museum is hosting a monthlong
African-American Animators Film Festival, featuring the works of
award-winning animators Willie Moore and Carlos T. Williams.
For details, call (202) 675-4120.
Among the exhibits at Smithsonian Institution museums is a
unique collection of lithographs of the African-American performer
Josephine Baker at the National Portrait Gallery.
The National Museum of African Art is featuring the visually
compelling Adinkra cloth that once belonged to Asantehene Agyeman
Prempeh I, the king of the Asante nation in what is now Ghana from
1888 to 1896.
The Smithsonian's Anacostia Museum is displaying a new exhibit
about reggae legend Bob Marley.
For information on Smithsonian exhibits, call (202)