This is the month where programmers and cultural professionals go gaga. It’s always a February feast kicking off with Langston Hughes’ birthday (February 1). If you want to savor the history of the African American experience in the arts, you must, must, must get a copy of Black Magic: A Pictorial History of Black Entertainers in America written by Langston Hughes and history writer/professor Milton Meltzer. The time line for Black Magic begins in Africa and ends at the time of Langston Hughes’ death in 1967. He never saw the final published book. Meltzer died in 2009 at age 94.

As for what’s going on in February I can barely scratch the surface. “Negro History Week” founder and DC resident Carter G. Woodson may have be astounded.

The U.S. Capitol Historical Society celebration of African American History Month Tribute to the First African American elected to the United States Senate – Hiram Rhodes Revels.
WHEN: Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 12 Noon to 1:00 PM
WHERE: Cannon House Office Building – Room 12, Independence Avenue and First Street, SE
(Metro Stops: Capitol South or Union Station)
WHO: Keynote speaker Laura Turner O’Hara, Historical Publications Specialist for the U.S. Office of History and Preservation. Ms. O’Hara is also Co-Author of ‘Black Americans in Congress 1870 -2007.’
RSVP: RSVP, email or call (202) 543-8919, x. 38, (Automated line: leave message and contact number). This event is free and open to the Public. Seating is limited.


Celia Cruz and the Fania All Stars – Quimbara – Zaire Africa 1974

WHEN: Thursday, February 17, 8:00 PM
WHERE: The Dome @ Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA

Drumming traditions brought over to the new world by the enslaved peoples from Africa were forbidden in the U.S. The authorities feared the Africans would communicate over distances by way of the drum. However Cuba did not place severe restrictions on the newly arrived Africans. In Cuba the traditions continued. The presentation highlights the marriage of African percussive rhythms with traditional Cuban music-very European in nature in the 20s and 30s. The decade-by-decade journey pays tribute to the Afro Latinos that created a new musical style. Arsenio Rodriguez, Beny Moré, Chano Pozo, Antonio Machin, Mario Bauzá, Machito, and Perez Prado are some of the artists that will be covered. Full circle and back to Africa– artists like Laba Sosseh, Ricardo Lemvo and Africando will be highlighted. Eileen’s presentation is punctuated with vintage film and music clips.


WHEN: Wednesday, February 16, 6:30 PM
WHERE: Eatonville Restaurant, 2121 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20010
TICKETS: $45 (plus tax and gratuity) To make reservations, go to or call 202-332-9672.

Jessica B. Harris is the author of eleven cookbooks documenting the foods and foodways of the African Diaspora. Harris is one of a handful of African Americans who have achieved prominence in the culinary world. In May 2010, she was inducted into the James Beard Who’s Who in Food and Beverage in America.

In High on the Hog Harris takes the reader from Africa across the Atlantic to America, tracking the trials that the people and the food have undergone along the way. From chitlins and ham hocks to fried chicken and vegan soul, Harris celebrates the delicious and restorative foods of the African American experience and details how each came to form such an important part of African American culture, history, and identity.

The menu, prepared by Eatonville’s Chef Garret Fleming, includes West African Shrimp and Spinach Soup; Sweet and Spicy Curried Goat with Chapati Bread and Smashed Plantains; and Banana Fritters.



Bill T. Jones can’t be put in the “black box,” or any box for that matter. The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane company is coming to The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to perform Fondly Do We Hope… Fervently Do We Pray. According to the program description, “the work, danced to live music, investigates the myriad meanings of Lincoln, rejecting accepted truth in favor of challenging and celebrating the lasting contributions of this great man. By envisioning the America that might have been had Lincoln completed the Reconstruction, Mr. Jones exposes the great distance between what is and what could have been.” With the Lincoln theme, this can be tucked into “President’s Day” as well as Lincoln’s birthday. Bill T. Jones was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient for 2010.

WHEN: February 24 and 25 (there is a post-performance discussion on February 24 with members of the company)
WHERE: John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Eisenhower Theater
TICKETS and SCHEDULE: Go to this link.