Celebrating Black Excellence

By Jamie Perry, YNPNdc volunteer

Even though Black History Month has ended, YNPNdc is interested in continuing the dialogue and sharing ways to celebrate Black excellence year-round. The month of February provides an opportunity to educate, celebrate, and reflect upon the history, struggles, and triumphs of Black communities, and yet it is also important to continue to support Black communities in the days ahead. In recognition of YNPN’s commitment to diversity and increasing opportunities among under-represented groups, we have highlighted organizations that are doing substantial work to empower Black communities in the DMV area. We also offer other ways to celebrate Black history and culture by sharing Black businesses, art, and cultural events in the DMV area so that you can continue to honor Black history and support these communities on a daily basis.

Nonprofit/advocacy organizations making a difference for Black communities:

National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to serving Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people. With a focus on federal public policy, NBJC works at the intersection of LGBTQ/SGL equality and racial justice movements to empower individuals who are too often ignored.

Girl Trek is the largest public health nonprofit for Black women and girls in the U.S., combining healthy living with monthly advocacy efforts in the community. The organization is inspired by the history of Black women who sacrificed their lives and walked to make a difference in their communities, women like Harriet Tubman and the Montgomery Bus boycotters.

Greater Washington Urban League works to increase the economic and political empowerment of diverse and historically vulnerable populations. The League has been serving the Metro DC community for 80 years, offering workforce and small business development, emergency assistance, youth development, scholarships, and much more.

The Sentencing Project is working to change the way Americans think about crime and punishment by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, advocating for alternatives to incarceration, and addressing unjust racial disparities and practices. While based in DC, the Sentencing Project works with allied local organizations like the ACLU and the DC Prisoners Legal Service Project to advocate for strategic policy reform.

Other organizations working to empower Black communities in the DC area and across the nation include: the DC Chapter of Black Lives Matter, the DC Chapter of the NAACP, the Black Student Fund, the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, New Community for Children, National Black Chamber of Commerce, the DC Black MBA Association, Color of Change, Bold Organizing, National Action Network, Higher Heights, Black Women for Wellness, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. WETA also has many resources here for individuals interested in organizations that serve the Black community in the DC Metro area.

Art, Cultural Events, and Local Businesses:

  •       Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor” is an excellent collection of Traylor’s work that exemplifies the cultural, political, and social forces that he experienced during slavery through the Great Migration. This exhibit is available at the Smithsonian American Art Museum through March 17, 2019.
  •       Darius Bost’s “Evidence of Being: The Black Gay Cultural Renaissance and the Politics of Violence” explores the confluence of the AIDS epidemic, crack, violence, and societal neglect in DC and New York City during the 1980’s and 90’s. Attend a reading and discussion at Poetry and Prose at The Wharf on March 11 from 7-8pm.
  •       Check out the “Watching Oprah” special exhibition at the National Museum of African American History & Culture for a fascinating look at the world-famous talk show host. Featuring original artifacts from her life, as well as photos and videos, the exhibition explores Oprah’s impact on society, and how she navigated issues such as race, gender, and the mass media.

By supporting local Black-owned businesses in your neighborhood, you’re strengthening communities, promoting economic equality, and helping to end historical disenfranchisement, all through the simple act of making intentional purchases. Some favorite local businesses include The Caged Bird, Brown Beauty Co-Op, and Busboys and Poets. Also be sure to check out the event calendar for Busboys and Poets across the city as they offer many great social justice, film, literary, and spoken word nights.

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