Make a day of traveling from Capitol Hill to Cardozo to learn more about the historical significance of places that are right in your back yard — and all boast free admission!
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House — The former home of Bethune and original headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women is nestled in the shade of Logan Circle at 1318 Vermont Ave. NW and sits in close proximity to the home of Carter G. Woodson.
Here you can see the desk used by the educator and furnishings from the boardroom where the 1963 March on Washington were planned. The house also holds the National Archive of Black Women’s History, the largest of its kind in the country. The archive is open by appointment only.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site — Douglass resided in his Anacostia home for nearly two decades while serving as the U.S. Marshal of the District of Columbia. The five-bedroom estate known as Cedar Hill boasts an amazing view of greater Washington and holds aspects of Douglass’s life, from his violin to his shoes. He shared the home with second wife Helen Pitts Douglass — but not a bedroom, as he preferred for men and women to sleep separately. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Free admission; access to the house is by guided tour only.
●Continue the Douglass experience by visiting the Frederick Douglass Museum on 320 A St. NE. Open by appointment only.
African American Civil War Memorial — The statue of black soldiers, surrounded by a wall of names of soldiers who served during the war, sits right across from the recently reopened museum. Check the Web site’s special section on tour tips for kids and call in advance for a tour, followed by a lecture. Free admission; open Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m.to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m.to 4 p.m.; Sunday, Noon to 4 p.m.
LeDroit Park Historic District — The iconic neighborhood of Washington’s black elite sits at the bottom of Howard University’s campus and is filled with colorful houses and great landscaping. Pick up a brochure from the Historic Preservation Office and take a foot or bicycle tour through the streets of the neighborhood, where notable dwellers included Walter Washington, Anna Julia Cooper and Mary Church Terrell.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial — The site for the civil rights leader’s statue, less than a year old, is forever populated with visitors, but it is well worth visiting anytime. Sitting across the Tidal Basin from the Jefferson Memorial and near the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, quotes from King’s speeches lead up to his massive presence, giving glimpses into his inner thoughts throughout multiple stages of his short life. Prepare to be moved — but good luck taking a photo with just you in the foreground.
Howard University — A walking tour of the University, posted online, serves as a great guide through the campus, taking you from Ira Aldrige theater to Bison Stadium and Rankin Chapel, where speakers such as Cornel West take the pulpit on occasion. Members of the Divine Nine will especially appreciate visiting the lush grounds of the university, where five of the Greek-letter organizations were founded.
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