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Mayor Bowser Invites Residents to Celebrate Black History Month and Join Kickoff Event: Welcome Black

Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Welcome Black Event Will Bring Together Community Members and Local Artists to Kick Off Black History Month on February 1

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser invites community members to kick off Black History Month celebrations at the inaugural ‘Welcome Black’ event that she will host on Thursday, February 1 at 6:00 p.m. The event will showcase local Black performers and visual artists in Downtown DC. 
“This year, we are kicking off Black History Month with some of the local creatives who help tell the story of our city through art – and we want the community to join us,” said Mayor Bowser. “We live in a city where Black history is DC history and DC history is Black history. This month – and every month – we’re sharing our history, we’re celebrating Black excellence, and we’re uplifting the people and voices who continue to make DC the greatest city in the world.”   

The Welcome Black event will be co-hosted by comedian and radio personality Joe Clair, who will invite a cast of local performers to the stage to highlight the history of the African Diaspora. Performances will include DC-based organizations and local artists, including: a dance interpretation by members of the Dance Institute of Washington that will highlight early African American history; a jazz performance from Marcus Johnson that raises awareness about Black contributions during the renaissance era; and a salute to R&B and Go-Go music performed by the bounce kings TCB. There will also be artwork on display from local Black artists from across DC. The event will take place at the Carlyle Room, a Black-owned venue that hosts jazz, soul, and R&B performances year-round in the heart of Downtown DC. Residents can register to attend the event HERE, but registration is not required to attend. 

This year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History has designated the theme for Black History Month to be “African Americans and the Arts.” The Mayor’s Office on African American Affairs (MOAAA) and the Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment (OCTFME) will host Black History Month events all month long to celebrate African Americans and the arts. Each week throughout the month will be organized by different themes that honor and celebrate Black history and culture in DC, including:

  • Black In Action (February 10-16): Week of events to honor and recognize home-town heroes from various industries. 
  • Black Downtown (February 17-23): Series of events and activities raising awareness about the Black diaspora in Downtown DC.
  • Black to the Future (February 24-29) Strategic events and activities designed to highlight advancements and accomplishments of Black individuals in technology and science.

Learn more about Black History Month events happening throughout February HERE. 

“Mayor Bowser’s investments and support for African American artists and the creative economy ensures that African Americans in the Arts will continue to make history. They are the Go-Go heartbeat of our city,” said Rev. Thomas Bowen, Director of the Mayor’s Office on African American Affairs. “We in the District are fortunate to celebrate Black history in DC every day because of our shared values that allow us to resource the organizations that support residents of color in all aspects of their well-being.”

During the event, Mayor Bowser will also present the finalized version of the District’s Racial Equity Action Plan, which is a three-year roadmap outlining actions that the District will take to close racial equity gaps and measure progress toward a more equitable DC. The Office of Racial Equity first introduced the report to the community in November of 2022 and residents and advocates provided feedback during a public comment period that ended in January 2023. ORE engaged over 600 community members through focus groups and interviews with community experts, public engagement forums, a launch event unveiling the draft plan, and a public comment period. 

The Racial Equity Action Plan will be live tomorrow starting at 6:00 p.m. when the Welcome Black event begins. To review the report, visit ore.dc.gov/actionplan.   

To date, Mayor Bowser has invested $709,590 in grant funding to 85 non-profit organizations through MOAAA to scale the work of community-based organizations (CBO) working to increase opportunities and services in education, career and economic development, public safety, civic engagement, health and wellness, youth engagement, and arts and the creative economy for the African American community. Each year, the administration distributes $7 million dollars in funding to qualified CBOs across the District through the outreach offices of the Mayor’s Office on Community Affairs.  

“OCTFME’s Black History Month collaboration underscores our commitment to showcasing the many diverse talents of Black creatives in our city,” said OCTFME Director LaToya Foster. “These celebrations support Mayor Bowser's vision and bring a renewed focus to the Mayor’s efforts to reinvigorate Downtown DC. Mayor Bowser's ongoing investments in our 202Creates initiative, as well as in the arts and entertainment across all 8 wards, are a testament to our Administration’s dedication to celebrating and elevating our unique, rich Black culture.”

Mayor Bowser also launched 202Creates in September 2016 to amplify and celebrate DC's creative culture. Led by OCTFME and DC’s Creative Affairs Office, 202 Creates supports local artists to start and scale their businesses. The residency program helps artistic entrepreneurs grow their business from idea to execution through coursework framed by a structured curriculum, one-on-one coaching, mentorship, and access to the vast alumni network who have completed the program.

Welcome Black event details are below:
Thursday, February 1 at 6 pm  
Mayor Muriel Bowser 
Rev. Thomas Bowen, Director, Mayor’s Office on African American Affairs 
LaToya Foster, Director, Office of Cable Television, Film, Media and Entertainment 
Amber Hewitt, Director, Office of Racial Equity
Joe Claire, Local Television Host and Comedian 
Marcus Johnson, Jazz Musician 
Heru, Hip-Hop Violinist 
Dance Institute of Washington 
TCB, DC Go-Go Band 
DJ Flava, Local Radio Show Host 93.9 WKYS
Carlyle Room 
1350 I Street NW  
*Closest Metro Station: Metro Center*
*Closest Bikeshare Station: 14th and D St NW*

Press interested in attending the event are asked to RSVP to [email protected].

The DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment will provide a live feed of this event. To view the event, visit mayor.dc.gov/live, tune in on Channel 16 (DCN), or watch on Mayor Bowser’s Facebook or X.

Mayor Bowser X: @MayorBowser
Mayor Bowser Instagram: @Mayor_Bowser
Mayor Bowser Facebook: facebook.com/MayorMurielBowser
Mayor Bowser YouTube: https://www.bit.ly/eomvideos