Weekend Events: June 17-19: Sun Spots, Tom Hanks, and the Greensboro Lunch Counter

Visit the Smithsonian museums to look at some of the wonders of the universe and dive into the Portrait Gallery for a double feature

The Greensboro lunch counter
The Greensboro lunch counter Photo courtesy of National Museum of American History

Friday June 17 Oh My Stars

Launch your Friday with a look into the outer limits. Thanks to the Public Observatory Project, you can view the skies at the Air and Space Museum‘s observatory between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m for your own galactic journey. After you are done exploring the wonders of the universe, participate in hands-on activities while learning about astronomy. This free event is family friendly and does not require a reservation but is weather permitting. Check with the museum’s welcome center first, but if the sky is bright come over to the Observatory, located outside the Southeast terrace near Independence Avenue and 4th Street, for an out of this world experience.

Saturday June 18 Splash Into Your Saturday

Why spend your Saturday doing the same old things when you can come to the National Portrait Gallery for a double feature that will really whet your appetite. This Saturday, Reel Portraits presents American Graffiti and Splash!.  Start your summer with a bang with American Graffiti , the film made by George Lucas before Star Wars, at 1 PM. This 1973 classic follows four young high school grads in 1962 California as they spend one last hurrah together before starting college. The film includes great cars, love stories, an amazing soundtrack and an all-star cast. Be sure not to miss Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, and Richard Dreyfuss in their Academy Award nominated performance Next up at 3 PM is the 1984 hit Splash! directed by Ron Howard. See Tom Hanks in his big screen debut as a wholesale fruit and vegetable dealer in New York. After being saved from drowning twice by a mysterious mermaid, Allen (Hanks) is called to the police station. There in the holding cell is a mysterious woman Madison, played by Darryl Hannah. Having sprouted legs for just six days Madison, Allen’s mermaid savior, is in a race against time. The film centers around the unlikely couple falling in love and the depths they go to stay together. This event is free but is on a first come, first served basis. The auditorium doors will open 30 minutes before the shows start so be sure to come early and grab your seat before it slips away.

Sunday June 19 A Greensboro Lunch

Take a few steps back in time this Sunday and join the American History Museum as they present to you the student sit-ins at the Greensboro Lunch Counter. Meet at the lunch counter on the 2nd floor of the museum’s East Wing at 1:30 Sunday afternoon to learn about a key moment in our nation’s history. Desegregation in the United States was won through many small battles, one of the most noted is the Greensboro Lunch Sit-Ins, and this Sunday you can participate in the landmark piece of history. On February 1, 1960, four male African American students from the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina sat down at the lunch counter of  Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Greensboro Four ordered coffee and doughnuts but were refused service at the whites only counter and were asked to leave. But the protestors – Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, Jr. and David Richmond – stayed until the store closed. The next day they were joined by more students at the counter and the following day resulted in an even bigger turn out. By the next week the group had started a string of sit-ins at stores all over the southern states. These sit-ins resulted in desegregation of Woolworth stores throughout the South and now it is your turn. After you take part in a training session based on an actual 1960s manual, you can prepare yourself for your fist sit-in and find out if you have the courage and strength to fight for justice in the Civil Rights movement. This free 15-to-20 minute performance reveals the people featured in the exhibits on display and allows you to experience the emotion in their stories. The performances are held Sundays and Mondays at 11:30 AM, 1:30, 3 and 4 PM.

For a complete listing of Smithsonian events and exhibitions visit the GoSmithsonian Visitors Guide.

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