African-American contributions have a high profile


January 30, 1994|By Dorothy Fleetwood | Dorothy Fleetwood,Contributing Writer

In conjunction with Black History Month in February, museums and historic sites in the region are featuring programs that call attention to the contributions African-Americans have made to American history and culture. Here's a sampling:

As part of its Winter Discover Series, Colonial Williamsburg offers a glimpse of the lives of slaves and free blacks in the 18th-century Colonial capital, where blacks constituted nearly 50 percent of the population. Presented this week, Tuesday through Saturday, the program includes character portrayals, dramatic vignettes, demonstrations, walking tours and a multi-image presentation. Admission is by Colonial Williamsburg ticket or Good Neighbor Card. Call (800) HISTORY or (804) 220-7662.*

In Washington, the National Museum of American History will hold its Black History Month conference, "Currents of the Spirit in the African Diaspora," Thursday through Saturday in the museum's Carmichael Auditorium. On view at the museum is "Buffalo Soldiers," an exhibition of original uniforms, contemporary photographs and drawings, which recognizes black cavalry and infantry soldiers who served in the post-Civil War army on the Western frontier; and "Seeing Is Believing: Photos of the Civil Rights Movement," a collection of more than 60 photographs gathered from key civil rights organizations. The first is on view through May 29, and the second can be seen Tuesday though Sept. 11.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at 901 G St. N.W. has scheduled three lectures and a program of songs, crafts and stories in February. The talks include: "Is There a Griot in the House," a talk on collecting family stories on Thursday; "Ancient African Empires" on Feb. 10; and "The Real Story Behind 'Glory' and Blacks in the Civil War" on Feb. 24. African- and Native-American cultures will be examined in a program of songs, crafts and stories, "Red and Black Voices," on Feb. 17. All programs begin at 7 p.m., and admission is free. Call (202) 727-1221.

The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, 1411 W St. S.E., will hold a birthday celebration in honor of Frederick Douglass, the black orator and abolitionist, at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 11. The zTC

ceremony features a posting of colors, laying of wreaths and tributes by guest speakers and school choirs. Tours of the house will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free; call (202) 426-5961.

The Capital Children's Museum at 800 Third St. N.E. has created a self-guided tour for Black History Month, in which tour participants learn about famous African-Americans and significant historical events. A map will be available at the front desk throughout February. On Feb. 26 the Richmond Theater Company for Children will present a collection of African stories, "Under the African Sun." The performance will be held in the museum's auditorium at 2 p.m. Admission is $3 for the performance, or $7 to include admission to the museum. Call (202) 543-8600.*

Young people are invited to hear stories about the lives of 18th-century African-Americans on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Gadsby's Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal St. in Alexandria, Va. The storyteller is Dylan Pritchett, an authority on African-

American history who has served as African-American programs specialist at Colonial Williamsburg. Reservations are required. Admission is $2. Call (703) 838-4242.*

Colvin Run Mill, a 19th-century gristmill in Fairfax County, Va., will celebrate Black History Month with two programs. "Glory Day at the Mill" will be presented on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Members of the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry, the Civil War re-enactment unit that was also part of the cast of the motion picture "Glory," will offer drilling and firing demonstrations and answer questions about the making of the movie and the role of blacks in the Civil War. On Feb. 13 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., a storyteller from Uganda will read stories and talk about the customs and traditions of her country. Both programs are free. The mill is on Route 7, five miles west of Tysons Corner, Washington Beltway Exit 10B. Call (703) 759-2771.

Another historic site in Fairfax County, Sully Plantation, will offer tours from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. next Sunday and Feb. 13. The first tour will feature open-hearth demonstrations of 18th- and 19th-century cooking influenced by African-Americans. The following week, visitors will learn about Madam Julia, who was the slave in charge of the laundry at Sully during the late 18th century. Admission is $3 for adults; $1 for children. Sully (P Plantation is on Route 28 in Chantilly, Va. Call (703) 437-1794.

Punxsutawney's big day

For children who live in Punxsutawney, Pa., Groundhog Day on Wednesday will be a real cause for celebration. This year for the first time schools will be closed in honor of the occasion. Townsfolk will be up early -- beginning at 5 a.m. -- for their annual trek to Gobbler's Knob, where they will await the prognostication of groundhog Punxsutawney Phil on how many weeks of winter remain. At sunrise, about 7:30 a.m, the groundhog will emerge from his house. If he sees his shadow, look for six more weeks of winter.

Last year the event gained national attention with the movie "Groundhog Day" staring Bill Murray, but it has actually taken place for more than 100 years. Several days of events are now held in conjunction with Groundhog Day. Call (814) 938-7700.

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