Events February 1-3: Maya Angelou, Black History Month Festivities and a Teen Poetry Slam

Meet world-renowned Civil Rights poet Maya Angelou, celebrate Black History Month and watch Washington D.C.’s most articulate teens battle in rhyme

World-famous poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou
World-famous poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou talks about her life at the American Indian Museum on Friday. Photo by Dwight Carter Adria Richards, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Friday, February 1: A Discussion with Poet Maya Angelou

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain,” once wrote poet Maya Angelou, one of the country’s most celebrated civil rights activists and intellectuals. Best known for her 1970 novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou has written more than 30 best-selling works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, as well as appeared in and written scripts for films and television and garnered more than 30 honorary degrees. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, the director of the National Museum of African Art, sits down with Angelou this evening to talk about the poet’s life and influence. Free. 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. American Indian Museum.

Saturday, February 2: Black History Month Family Day

After you’ve been inspired by Maya Angelou, kickoff Black History Month today with a daylong celebration of African American culture. Marking the 150 anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the start of the Civil Rights Movement, the event features live performances and hands-on activities, including music by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Quartet and reenactments of Civil War military drills. Make your own protest slogan button and honor the Americans who dedicated themselves to the nation’s promise of equality for all. Free. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. American History Museum.

Sunday, February 3: DC Youth Poetry Slam Team 2013 Semifinals

The city’s most promising teenage poets take the stage this evening in a poetry slam to duke it out in verse. Armed with steady rhythm and clever rhyme, they are competing for a spot on the 2013 DC Youth Slam Team, a poetry group that attends regional and international competitions, as well as organizes poetry events around Washington, DC to encourage teens to speak about social justice issues. Members of the slam’s audience judge the young poets, all of whom will perform original works. Pay attention to the faces of these young wordsmiths, because you might see them again in the next “Poetic Likeness” exhibit. Free. 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. National Portrait Gallery.

Also check out our specially created Visitors Guide App. Get the most out of your trip to Washington, D.C. and the National Mall with this selection of custom-built tours, based on your available time and passions. From the editors of Smithsonian magazine, the app is also packed with handy navigational tools, maps, museum floor plans and museum information including ‘Greatest Hits’ for each Smithsonian museum.

For a complete listing of Smithsonian events and exhibitions visit the goSmithsonian Visitors Guide. Additional reporting by Michelle Strange.

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