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Black History Experiences in Newport News

From a livestream festival and virtual lectures to a private planetarium show, Newport News has a number of ways to celebrate the African-American experience to commemorate Black History Month. Here are some of the best Black history experiences you can enjoy, most from the comfort of your own home!

downing-gross cultural arts center

Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center is celebrating the rich history and legacy of the African-American community with The Carter G. Woodson Festival, a 4-hour livestreamed celebration named after American historian and the father of Black history, Carter G. Woodson.

This virtual event, to be held from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 20, will feature Atumpan Edutainment & Co. and will include the following 25-minute performances and presentations:

  • Interviews of African-Americans who are making history now
  • Musical selections by artists and bands from Virginia and beyond
  • African dance performed by nationally and internationally acclaimed ensembles
  • Poetry and storytelling by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists
  • “Make and Move It” DIY crafts creating simple instruments and beaded jewelry
  • Theatrical vignettes of traditional folklore
  • Virtual yoga classes

To learn more about the show and to purchase tickets to access the livestream, click here.

the Mariners' museum

To recognize the rich history and culture of Blacks, Africans, and African Americans who helped shape the world, The Mariners’ Museum is celebrating Black History Month with a variety of FREE virtual programs throughout the month of February. Upcoming programs include:

February 18 at 1 p.m.
Africa’s Kingdoms and Maritime Cultures: Carthage
Discover the connection between an ancient and modern city as Erika Cosme, content and interpretation developer, highlights the ancient city of Carthage and shares how its history has influenced present-day Tunisia. Click here to register.

February 19 at noon
African-American Medal of Honor Recipients during the Civil War

Join the museum for a virtual lecture with author and historian John V. Quarstein, as he discusses African Americans who fought in the Civil War. Click here to register.

February 23 at 1 p.m.
Africa’s Kingdoms and Maritime Cultures: The Swahili Coast

Explore online with Wisteria Perry, manager of interpretation and community outreach, as she takes you along a coastal area of the Indian Ocean in Southeast Africa. Inhabited by the Swahili people, learn about its distinct culture, demography, religion and geography. Click here to register.

February 27 at 1 p.m.
Waterways of Africa: The Nile
Explore the world’s longest river, and one of Africa’s most relied upon bodies of water – the Nile. Click here to register.

Additionally, February’s books for Maritime Mondays (a story time for children 18 months to 8 years old, held at 11 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. every Monday) will also put the spotlight Black History Month. Museum staff will read a story and share an artifact from the museum’s collection. Click here for weekly book titles and to register online.

All virtual programs are free but require a Zoom account to access. To learn more, watch this short tutorial or visit www.marinersmuseum.org/blackhistory.

The virginia living museum

The Virginia Living Museum has set up a Black History Month display in its gallery on the main floor and will be celebrating on social media throughout the month of February. The museum’s traditional planetarium show, called Follow the Drinking Gourd: Quest for Freedom, will be offered as a “private party” for groups of 9 (due to state mandates limiting gatherings). For details, call 757-595-9135 between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.  Follow the Drinking Gourd takes us back to the days when freedom was nothing more than a dream for those held in slavery. Some looked for hope to a certain constellation with its bright shining star. The story is a poignant and inspiring tale of one African-American family’s desperate flight to freedom and how they used constellations to guide the way. The program is based on a children’s book, Follow the Drinking Gourd, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter.  


For more information about all there is to see and do in Newport News, call our Visitor Center at 757-886-7777. Also, be sure to check out our website at www.newport-news.org.