Rain or shine, thousands will be converging on Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital, for festivities and marches marking the dedication of the first memorial on our National Mall to an African-American: Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Ben’s Chili Bowl & Ben’s Next Door (1213 U St. NW)
Ben’s Chili Bowl is a long time local landmark that has built in rabid cult following including famed notables such as Bill Cosby and President Obama, who are such huge fans of Ben’s chili half smokes that the eatery hung a sign that said that nobody but them can eat for free.
Outside of its world renowned chili half smokes, Ben’s standing as an iconic Black-owned institution came about in the late 1960s. After Dr. King’s assassination in 1968, while the U St. neighborhood around Ben’s was being burned to the ground from rioting the diner’s owner Ben Ali kept its door’s opened to the community. It was left untouched.
Bus Boys and Poets (2021 14th St. NW)
Busboys and Poets, traditionally a community gathering place for the area’s progressive types, draws on Langston Hughes’ budding days working as a busboy in DC prior to becoming a historically important poet.
Eatonville (2121 14th St. NW)
Eatonville was opened in 2009 by the same guy who founded Bus Boys and Poets and it sits directly across the street to its sister property. Even though some may think that Eatonville’s name sprang up in the annals of a lazy name search involving the word “eat”, it’s actually inspired by another great Black writer, Zora Neale Hurston. The restaurant is actually named after her Florida hometown and thus becomes the perfect moniker for southern cuisine.
Georgia Brown’s (950 15th St. NW)
If you’re in the mood for high-end Southern low-country cuisine in downtown DC you may want to check out Georgia Brown’s, a favorite of the K Street crowd. The menu is pricey but the portions are full and the food is down right good.
B. Smiths (50 Massachusetts Ave. NW)
Union Station is home to one of restaurateur and television host B. Smith’s three award-winning soul food restaurants. If fact, the dining is undeniably one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the country.
African American Civil War Memorial & Museum (1925 Vermont Ave. NW)
After memorializing the legacy of the man who marched for freedom in civil rights visit the memorial of the 200,000 selfless African-American soldiers and sailors who fought for freedom during the Civil War. The African-American Civil War Museum recently opened a bigger, better location directly across from the stunning memorial that sits on U Street.
Bohemian Caverns (2001 11th St. NW)
Once a landmark lounge known for hosting the great jazz icons such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and DC’s own Duke Ellington. Today, you can catch great food, live music and open mic poetry sessions.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site (1411 W St. SE)
You can’t visit Washington without visiting the home and estate of Frederick Douglass, one of the country’s first great Black leaders. Southeast D.C. is home to the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, which is administered by the National Park Service as a National Historic Site.
According to the National Park Service, “Douglass lived in this house, which he named Cedar Hill, from 1877 until his death in 1895. Perched high on a hilltop, the site also offers a sweeping view of the U.S. Capitol and the Washington D.C. skyline.”
Howard University (2400 Sixth St. NW)
Howard University, one of the preeminent HBCUs in the country, is founding campus of many of the Divine 9 Black Greek organizations including fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, which counts Dr. King as a member, the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, to which Coretta Scott King is a honorary member. Among Howard University’s many very distinguished alumni are Civil Rights greats such as Stokely Carmichael, who spearheaded the student led “freedom rides”, and Thurgood Marshall, who’s prolific work led to the desegregation in public schools.
Malcolm X/ Meridian Hill Park (2500 16th St. NW)
Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park, is one of the most beautiful sights in DC. The long held Drum Circle and a number of civil rights marches have originated in the nationally historic park that features a 13 basin cascading waterfall.
Lincoln Theater (1215 U St. NW)
Lincoln Theater was known as the “jewel of Black Broadway” in its hey day. The iconic theater was the center piece of America’s Black cultural movement, which was centralized in DC and predated Harlem. It hosted regular performances from the jazz era’s most noted entertainers including Washington natives Duke Ellington and Pearl Bailey as well Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Nat King Cole, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and Sarah Vaughn.
The Park At Fourteenth (920 14th St. NW)
The Park At Fourteenth is the latest venture by DC’s most successful nightlife promoter Marc Barnes. The man responsible for revitalizing the city’s nightlife with previous iconic nightclubs such as Republic Gardens and Love has done it again with a classy four-story restaurant and lounge that shifts the epicenter of DC nightlife to the downtown.
P.O.V. Lounge at W Hotel (515 15th St. NW)
If you want to see Washington in a new perspective head across the street from the White House to the roof terrace of the W Hotel’s Point of View Bar and look down. Have a drink while peering into the Obama residence while seemingly being an arms length away from the top of the Washington monument. Be prepared to RSVP on OpenTable.com.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (1001 F St. NW)
Meet wax replicas of Martin Luther King, Barack Obama and other historical figures.
The White House (1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW)
Martin Luther King marched so Barack Obama could run. No visit to Martin Luther King’s memorial would be complete without a visit to the White House while the nation’s first Black president is still sitting in office.
The Lincoln Memorial (The National Mall)
Stand in the very spot where Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington.
NCNW Building (633 Pennsylvania Ave. NW)
National Council of Negro Women building on Pennsylvania Avenue is the only black-owned building in the nation’s “corridor of power.” The organization’s long time leader Dorothy Height, often considered the “godmother of the women’s movement” and mentor to both Dr. King and President Obama, laid in repose after her death in 2010.
Martin Luther King, Jr National Memorial (The National Mall)
Dedication festivities from 8:30a to 4p, August 28, 2011
Washington Convention Center (801 Mt Vernon Pl NW)
Where many of the MLK Memorial dedication festivities will be held. See www.dedicatethedream.org for details
OTHER IMPORTANT WASHINGTON LINKS: