Wednesday, December 21, 2011

History and Community in LeDroit Park

Can Local History Projects Mend Collective Memory?

It's hard to imagine that densely packed Ward 1, with its rows of federal style townhomes and gleaming new luxury condos, was once the target of developers looking to establish subdivided and suburban-style gated communities, but in 1873, LeDroit Park was conceived as just that. Filmmaker Ronald Smokey Stevens recently completed a documentary as part of the DC Community Heritage Project that surveys the history of the neighborhood from its exclusive beginnings, through its illustrious decades as the locus for black culture in Washington (and perhaps the United States), to its current challenges and successes. The film, Preserving LeDroit Park: an historic DC Community, is available in full as part of the Humanities Council's DC Digital Museum, but it can also be purchased at http://www.preservingledroitpark.com.

Stevens' film exemplifies the value of historic preservation and public history. It not only tells the story of LeDroit Park, but it tells the story of a man who's regular rounds through the neighborhood carried him past the Robert and Mary Church Terrell House, and how these encounters with the past inspired and empowered him to find out more.

Mary Church Terrell, Stevens' tells his viewers, began fighting for Civil Rights using civil disobedience tactics long before Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., or the Freedom Riders. In 1950 Terrell and a group of activists sought to test the District of Columbia's anti-segregation laws by entering a de facto white-only restaurant. When they were refused service, they filed a lawsuit which, by 1953, led DC courts to rule segregation in eating places unconstitutional. Though many longtime residents of LeDroit Park and Washington, DC likely know of Terrell and her groundbreaking work, her story may be news to families who have recently made the neighborhood their home. By helping to popularize the story of Terrell as well as those of Anna J. Cooper, Walter E. Washington, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Duke Ellington, and the other notable residents of LeDroit Park, Stevens can help build a sense of community pride and appreciation of a common past.

Photographer David Corry, interviewed for the film, believes that creating this sense of community will be an ongoing challenge for LeDroit Park, but one that can be overcome. The perceived lack of a sense of community caused by gentrification and demographic shifts can be remedied by public history projects like Stevens' film as personal connections to place and time are developed for newcomers, and rebuilt among long-term residents.

The film is produced well, making use of Stevens' oratory skills, authoritative historical research, illustrative photographs, and stock video footage. It is brief, but informative, and well worth the 17 minutes for anyone interested in Washington, DC history.

More information on the notable residents of LeDroit Park can be found in Kim Roberts' online exhibition Wide Enough for Our Ambition.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Still Looking for that Perfect Holiday Gift

M.O.M.I.E.S TLC 's Children's Black History Calendar May Be Just What You're Looking For

M.O.M.I.E.S TLC is the outstanding organization which annually produces "The Children's Gallery of Black History," an interactive museum exhibit designed to bring history to life for kids. The mobile gallery travels around DC, and can be brought to an school or youth group near you! For more information, click here, email Nicole Howard at nicole@momiestlc.com, or call 202-545-1919.

M.O.M.I.E.S TLC is currently offering their Children's Black History Calendar for only $15. The proceeds go to support the organization, and their mission to "use cutting-edge techniques to cultivate our children's talents."



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

DC Humanities Book Reviews: "Free Agents: A History of Washington, DC Graffiti"

Another Review From Humanities Council Intern, Bridget Sullivan

Gastman, Roger. Free Agents: A History of Washington, D.C. Graffiti. (Bethesda: R. Rock Enterprises, Inc.,2001)

Free Agents: A History of Washington, D.C. Graffiti contains the stories of some of D.C.’s most notorious graffiti artists in their own words. Roger Gastman uses his knowledge of and connection to the graffiti world to speak with some of the big names in the history of  D.C. graffiti. The book covers the personal stories of these artists, as well as their creation of a unique graffiti culture in the District. It also includes several pages of photographs of iconic pieces of DC graffiti. The combination of stories and photographs gives the reader a strong sense of the way that this culture developed over the course of the past few decades.
This work showcases the hidden side of DC graffiti. Although Gastman seeks to highlight that graffiti is not merely an act of rebellion or vandalism, he does not shy away from addressing the less glamorous aspects of this scene. Drug use and police conflicts are addressed head-on in the several stories, but they are discussed from a perspective outside the mainstream.  

Gastman’s portrayal of graffiti culture captures its ephemeral nature. He shows that the majority of pieces last for a limited time, and that most artists eventually move on from graffiti. Gastman, again, takes a different perspective, stating that this turnover allows newer artists to make their mark on the city. He also emphasizes the role live music shows played as a forum for graffiti artists.

Overall, Gastman makes the case that the graffiti scene of Washington, DC is a lot more than initially meets the eye. He presents the stories of its history in a way that immerses the reader in the underground culture of graffiti art, both good and bad. Further, he focuses the snapshot images within the wider narrative of both the graffiti scene and the life stories of those involved. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Footage from Joe Howell's Author Talk

Howell Learned About Empathy and Compassion Early and Vividly


Last week, author Joe Howell discussed his recent memoir, "Civil Rights Journey," at a fundraising event for the Humanities Council. Howell's book is a remarkable story of how a young white southerner in the 1960s found himself on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement. The story is told first hand through journals Howell kept while he and his wife Embry worked for Head Start in southwest Georgia.

Check out his brief clip from last week's author reading. Howell discusses an early childhood experience that contributed to his decision to join the Civil Rights Movement.


Find out more at Howell's blog - http://jhowell.authorsxpress.com/.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

38th DC Historical Studies Conference Kicks Off this Weekend

Annual Letitia Woods Brown Lecture on the Civil War in Washington

The 38th Annual DC Historical Studies Conference kicks off this weekend with the Letitia Woods Brown Lecture, and a fascinating plenary discussion about a Digital History of the Civil War in Washington, DC. The Brown lecture is titled "Lincoln's Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, DC," and will be delivered by Professor Kenneth J. Winkle of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Civil War is not the only topic of discussion during the 150th Anniversary of the conflict, but it certainly is a major theme throughout the two-day conference schedule. 

The sesquicentennial of the Metropolitan Police Department will be highlighted in a panel discussion featuring department historian Lieutenant Nicholas T. Breul, with Martin Murray, and Sandra Schmidt and moderated by Bill Brown. A session on political collections in DC's archives will be moderated by Yvonne Carrigan, Head of Special Collections and Archives at George Mason University's Fenwick Library. The panel will include librarians and archivists from other area Universities as well as the DC Public Library Washingtoniana Division. Professionally guided history tours will be offered of Lafayette Square and major sites of Prohibition-Era Washington. 

Recent recipients of the Humanities Council and the DC Historic Preservation Office's DC Community Heritage Project Grant will form a panel exploring neighborhood history. Another DCCHP grantee, John Eaton Elementary School, will demonstrate their student-produced, web-based history project. Their session is rounded out by Lucinda Janke, Kesh Ladduwahetty, who produced a Humanities Council funded online exhibit on the Franklin School last year, and Kimberly Springle, Director of the Sumner School Museum and Archives and Humanities Council Board member. It is great to see so much of the great work produced by these dedicated local historians and scholars represented at the conference.

This overview by no means covers all of the sessions offered at this year's conference. With so many great speakers and new ideas, there is bound to be something of interest to just about anyone. Check the conference's blog for more details on the schedule and how to register for sessions.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Students in Cemeteries: Hands on History Learning

Students From a Recent HCWDC Funded Program to Debut Film

The Female Union Band Cemetery
As seen from Rock Creek Park
Recent grantee "I Saw! The Experience of Learning in DC," and its cadre of cemetery exploring youth will screen their film on Saturday, November 12 at 5PM. The event will be hosted by the African-American Civil War Museum at 1925 Vermont Ave, NW. The film titled "We Are Not Afraid to Make History! (Part 1)," was directed, filmed, and edited by the young participants.

Last Summer 30 young students braved the hottest part of the year investigating Washington, DC's historic African-American cemeteries. They met with historians, archeologists, and other researchers who mentored them as they reviewed primary source materials to reconstruct the lives of some of the people buried in the Antebellum era gravesites. The forthcoming film is based on the video documentation of the project.

"I Saw! The Experience of Learning in DC" is an organization that implements "Living Images in my World" as a program of community based education projects with outcomes promoting a social good, high intellectual value, and creative artistic vision.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Joe Howell Memoir Inspires Faith that Nation's Rifts Will One Day Be Mended

Author to Speak at Upcoming Humanities Council Event

Joy Ford Austin, the Executive Director of the Humanities Council had this to say about Howell's book:

This excellent book is an important contribution to the canon of civil rights literature.  The diary that is at the heart of Joseph Howell’s "Civil Rights Journey: The Story of a White Southerner Coming of Age during the Civil Rights Revolution" is a rare chance to hear the authentic, complex voice of a young man working to change the system that prejudice had ensconced and that protest had begun to uproot. It is a powerful reminder that many young whites did take a stand for civil rights. Joseph Howell’s remarkable account, beautifully written and accessible, shows that he was on the right side of history. However, he is always honest, intentionally questioning his personal motivations, whether these are the lessons of suffering from polio or the benefits of privilege. He never settles for easy answers from himself or those he meets on this journey. Inspiring and intelligent, it ultimately encourages all of us to inquire of ourselves and to take a stand on contemporary issues of injustice and cruelty. 
 
I also appreciated the role of Embry, Joe’s strong and perceptive wife. They must look back on this summer and its shared memories as truly transformational and a crucible of their life together. 

Howell will discuss the book at the Home of Bob and Lucy Bremner on Thursday, November 10. After the conversation, Howell will sign copies of the memoir which will be available for sale. Tickets for the event are $50 and can be purchased by visiting http://civilrightsjourney.eventbrite.com, emailing elucero@wdchumanities.org, or calling 202-387-8391. 

Ticket sales support the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, a private non-profit organization dedicated to providing transformative humanities programs, events, and activities to the Washington, DC community.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Deadlines for Cycle I 2012 Grants Set

Grants Workshop Locations To Be Released Soon

Art Historian Perry Frank and
Muralist Byron Peck with Dir. of
Grants Mark Smith and Exec. Dir
Joy Ford Austin at the 2011 Cycle
II Grant Awards Ceremony.
Though the Cycle II awards ceremony just wrapped up last week, we are already looking forward to the first grant cycle of 2012! The Humanities Council offers major grant awards of up to $5000 to qualified 501(c)3 non-profit organizations which seek to provide high-quality humanities-based projects, programs, or events to the people of Washington, DC. Small grants of up to $1500 are also offered. 

The Humanities Council highly recommends that first time grantees attend a grants workshop to learn more about the proposal process, and the types of projects which have received funding in the past. More information about the upcoming workshop series will be available soon.

Important dates and deadlines for Cycle I include:

Grant Assistance Workshops
January 10, 2012
January 12, 2012
January 19, 2012
January 24, 2012
January 26, 2012
Times and locations are to be decided.

Preliminary Applications Due for Major Grants - February 10, 2012

Final Applications Due for Major and Small Grants - March 9, 2012

Cycle I 2012 Grants Awards Ceremony - April 25, 2012

For more information on grant opportunities from the Humanities Council of Washington, DC visit www.wdchumanities.org, email grants@wdchumanities.org, or call 202-387-8391.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

You are Guaranteed to Learn Something New About DC!

DC Community Heritage Project Grantees to Showcase Projects Dec. 8

Join us at John Eaton Elementary school in Cleveland Park as this year's DC Community Heritage Project grantees showcase their efforts to research, interpret, and publicize the history of their communities. You are guaranteed to learn something new about Washington, DC!

The DC Community Heritage Project, a partnership between the Humanities Council of Washington, DC and the DC Historic Preservation Office, began in 2005 as a way to connect neighborhoods with history at a grassroots level. Each year, the program offers informative symposia on best practices in constructing a community history project, and a grant cycle to support local history organizations.

The event is open to the public and completely free. Please RSVP by visiting http://dcchp.eventbrite.com/ , calling 202-387-8391, or emailing grants@wdchumanities.org.

Check out all the great projects that will be on display this year...


Preserving LeDroit Park: An Historical Community in Washington, DC

This documentary film, produced by Ronald Smokey Stevens, explores the history of the LeDroit Park neighborhood from its beginnings as an exclusive, all-white subdivision through its transformation into the bastion of Washington's black middle class. The film highlights eminent residents of LeDroit Park who made significant contributions to DC and the nation.

Panel Exhibition on the Reopening of Peirce Mill

The iconic Peirce Mill is located in Rock Creek Park between the Cleveland Park and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods in northwest Washington. For years, the site has served as physical link between Washington's urban present and agrarian past. To help reacquaint Washingtonians with this historic landmark after a 12 year $3 million renovation, Friends of Peirce Mill has produced four large exhibit panels which will be moved to display sites throughout the city.

Washington Color School Project

The Washington Color School is an art movement centered on a loose association of painters active in the DC area active since the 1960s. The project participants seek to create an online archive of interviews and other materials relevant to the history of the Washington Color School. The organization also held an illustrated talk by eminent art critic Paul Richard who has witnessed the growth and change of the DC art community since the rise of the Color School. 

Exterior and Interior Graphic Panels and Video about Historic Adas Israel Synagogue

The Historic Adas Israel Synagogue is the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington's most unique and valuable artifact. In 1969, the Society even moved the entire building to its present location to save it from demolition. Despite its importance to the cultural and architectural history of Washington, DC, it has featured no interpretive interior displays before now. As the culmination of a series of DC Community Heritage Project Grants, the Society has produced an indoor panel and an outdoor panel to help bring the history of the Adas Israel Synagogue to life.

Ivy City Neighborhood and Oral History Project Film

The DC Community Heritage Project has supported Empower DC for the past several years in their efforts to document and disseminate the history of the Ivy City neighborhood. The results have been outstanding and include: over 20 oral history interviews; research and collection of historic photos and memorabilia; an hour-long radio-quality documentary about the community; and a full color, 30 page publication based on the oral histories. Taking their project to the next logical step, Empower DC has created a documentary film to further tell the story of Ivy City.

John Eaton Elementary School Centennial Website

Cleveland Park's John Eaton Elementary School has been a fixture in the community for 100 years, and a group of ambitious fourth graders have taken it upon themselves to research their school's past and document it on the internet. The students have been to the Sumner School to learn research skills, the National Building Museum to learn museum skills, and the Library of Congress to learn how to conduct oral history interviews. The results will be posted on a specially redesigned centennial version of the school's website.

My DC Neighborhood in 1955

The Essential Theatre company produced and documented a panel discussion to coincide with their production of, "A Rose Among Thorns," a tribute to Rosa Parks. The panel was filled by DC residents who lived in various neighborhoods during Parks' iconic demonstration on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955. The panelists discussed their feelings on the event, and how it began to change their neighborhoods as the Civil Rights Movement shifted to center stage in America's socio-political consciousness.

The Museum of the Caribbean Diaspora: A Digital Repository

This ambitious project, headed by Roger Caruth and The Institute of Caribbean Studies, seeks to digitally document the history and culture of the Washington, DC Caribbean Diaspora making artifacts such as oral histories, photographs, and primary source documents available online as a database and as curated exhibits. The project makes use of the George Mason University Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media's open-source Omeka museum collections software. 

DC Authors' Houses: a Web Exhibit

This project is where literary history and architectural history meet. The team representing a coalition of four DC humanities non-profits have researched and photographed the historic homes of some of Washington, DC's most eminent writers including: Frederick Douglass, Zora Neale Hurston, and Sinclair Lewis. The fruits of this labor will be available to the public in the form of a professionally designed, easy-to-use web exhibit which will allow the group to continue adding new research well beyond the end of their current grant.

Voices on Fourteenth Street: Columbia Heights in the Sixties

Scholar Bell Clement and her sponsoring organization, Public Communications, Inc., have launched an oral history project to document work done by members of the Columbia Heights community to redefine their neighborhood and the terms of its governance for themselves. The project is part of a larger effort to explore American urban policy and changes in the conception of the American city during the 1960s. Five narrators were chosen through contacts with neighborhood and religious organizations, and Clement prepared a synthesis of the interviews interpreted with archival research. 

Historic Woodlawn Cemetery Records Conversion Project

Tyrone General has worked tirelessly to preserve and popularize the history of Woodlawn Historic Cemetery, and last year he received a DC Community Heritage Project grant to create several large interpretive banners to spread the story of the cemetery and the historic figures buried there. This year, in response to increased inquiries from genealogists and other researchers, General has initiated an effort to digitize the cemetery's detailed yet unwieldy paper archives.

The African-American Pioneer Muslimahs in Washington, DC

During the middle of the 20th century many African-American women in Washington, DC withstood challenges from their families and communities as they converted to a religion then seen as quite foreign and unusual. These women banded together and created a strong community of their own as they worked to create a new way of life for their children. This project documented the stories of some of the oldest Muslimahs in DC for a video set to premiere soon at a public screening.

The Anacostia Heritage Ride

The Anacostia Bicyclist Association developed this dynamic tour of select neighborhoods on the African American Heritage Trail to demonstrate cycling’s ability to contribute to the popularization of DC’s rich history and culture. Riders were provided with bicycles, water, snacks, and a companion guide developed by the ABA to help bring the heritage of Old Anacostia, Hillsdale, and the Waterfront neighborhoods to life.

Fotocraft Camera Club: More than Seven Decades of Photography in the Nation’s Capital

The Fotocraft Camera Club began at the 12th Street YMCA in 1937, and quickly established itself as the District’s premiere photography organization for African Americans. When the 12th Street YMCA closed its doors in 1982, Fotocraft persevered, moving to the 19th Street Baptist Church where members continue to meet twice per month. To celebrate their club’s storied past, Fotocraft initiated this oral history project to preserve the memories of its long-time members which will be interpreted in the context of the history of Washington, DC, and of the iconic 12th Street YMCA. 

Uncovering a Piece of Capitol Hill History through stories of the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop

The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop has provided classes, performances, lectures, and exhibits to the Washington, DC community for nearly 40 years. This year, they inaugurated an oral history project to preserve the memories of the individuals whose lives they’ve touched. As the interviews are completed, Project Director Peter DiMuro will analyze them and create an interpretive brochure.

Third Annual Historic Church Tour of Deanwood

This architectural and cultural tour of Deanwood’s churches aims to engage and educate audiences about the heritage of some of the most iconic buildings in the neighborhood. Though the history of these buildings is not widely known outside of Deanwood, the memories and stories they represent are an important part of the city’s past. Deanwood Heights Mainstreets publishes a spectacular booklet that highlights and interprets each of the tour stops. 

Living Images in My World: A History Beneath Us - Forgotten Sacred Ground Across the River Creek

Last Summer, "I Saw! The Experience of Learning in DC Project" took students from the Columbia Heights Youth on a journey through time, combining historic research with material culture and anthropological studies. The students visited The Mt. Zion Church Female Union Band Cemetery, and conducted research at libraries and archives throughout the city in an attempt to reconstruct the lives of six African Americans who cannot be found in their history textbooks. The students then produced a blog, a documentary film, and a booklet with a full bibliography.

What's In a Name: Profiles of the Trailblazers, History and Heritage of District of Columbia Public and Public Charter Schools

This project is a continuation of Women of the Dove's efforts to document the history of DC's Public and Public Charter schools. The organization has produced a booklet, and a CD highlighting their research on 86 schools, and this most recent grant has allowed them to document an additional 75 schools.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Announcing the 2011 Cycle II Grant Recipients

Grant Awards Will Be Presented at a Ceremony this Evening at the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage

Major Grants
  • Washington's Mural's as Spectacle and Message - City Arts Inc.
  • Advanced Photography Training for At-Risk DC Youth Critical Exposure
  • The 2012 Environmental Film Festival in the Nations Capital
  • Shakespeare Steps Out - Folger Shakespeare Library
  • 2012 Children's Gallery of Black History - MOMIE's TLC
  • One World Education Units: Single Parent Families & Language in America - One World Education
  • The Africa Club with Sadiki - Sadiki Educational Safari, Inc.
  • Documenting Your Story (Documentary Video Storytelling Seminar) - Stone Soup Films
  • Thurgood Marshall Academy's Community Archives Program - Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School
  • Washington Storytellers' Theatre DBA Renewal and Enhancement of SpeakeasyDC's podcast - Speakeasy DC
  • Voices of Health - Whitman Walker Health
  • Our City Film Festival - Yachad, Inc
Small Grants
  • Civil War Reading Series - Georgetown Theatre Company
  • The Finding Gabriela DC Youth Poetry Competition - The In Series, Inc.
  • Southwest Heritage Project - Southwest Neighborhood Assembly
  • 38th Annual Conference on DC Historical Studies - Friends of the Washingtoniana Division
  • In Their Own Words – DCPS Students - Global Harmony Through Personal Excellence, Inc.
  • "Brookland, not Brooklyn" Discussion Guide - Black Women Playwrights’ Group
  •  The Mother Story Project - The Sanctuary Theatre
We look forward to seeing the enriching programs, events, and projects produced by these outstanding organizations!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

DC Community Heritage Project at the 38th Annual DC Historic Studies Conference

Patricia Hallman,Javier Barker, and Graylin Presbury to Represent 3 Past Grantee Organizations

The Cover Page from the
Fairlawn Citizens Association's
DCCHP Publication
This year's DC Historical Studies Conference will feature a panel discussion with three of our past DC Community Heritage Project Grantees. On Saturday, November 5, from 3:15-5PM, representatives from the Capitol View Civic Association, the Eastland Gardens Flower Club, and the Fairlawn Citizens Association will discuss their projects, and provide guidance to others who may wish to replicate their success. 

The DC Community Heritage Project is a partnership between the Humanities Council, the DC Historic Preservation Office, and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The program is designed to provide DC community organizations with the tools and funding necessary to document and preserve the history of their neighborhoods. 

The discussion will be moderated by Patsy Fletcher of the DC Historic Preservation Office. Check out the conference website for more information.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Making DC Sizzle

Don't Miss the Humanities Council's Annual Distinguished Service to the Humanities Awards

The burner has been turned on, and DC is starting to sizzle! And it's in no small part thanks to this year's Distinguished Service to the Humanities Award winners. DC has always been a hot town, but in recent years, it has gained recognition for its burning and burgeoning art and theatre scene, jazz revival, documentary film production, and academic community. DC nationwide cred is not just political or bureaucratic, these individuals have rocketed it into the cultural stratosphere!

The Humanities Council will bring them all together for one exciting night, for fiery conversation and banter with one another, and with the audience!




Where did Tony Gittens get the idea for an international film festival in Washington, DC, and what did it take for him to make that dream a reality?

DC has always been a hotbed of jazz and art, but find out how Charles Fishman has sent it's popularity soaring with performances all over the city during the DC Jazz Festival, and a host of educational programs for kids!

Philippa P.B. Hughes imagined the Pinkline Project as an invisible connector between Washington's diverse social groups and the city's emerging art scene. Come find out how she unearthed DC's art underground!

Professor Berlin is one of the country's preeminent historians of the African-American experience. Find out how his DC connections have influenced his research!

Sharon Percy Rockefeller has led Washington's flagship public television and radio stations for over 20 years. During that time WETA has produced massively successful documentary films such as Ken Burns' Civil War, as well as works that focus on the history and culture of Washington. Find out how she has contributed to DC's reputation as a documentary film mecca!

Howard Shalwitz has taken The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company beyond the cutting edge! Not content with simply producing extremely entertaining theater, Shalwitz' shows introduce Washingtonians to critical cultural and social issues. This tendency is exemplified in his latest work Clybourne Park!

The evening's conversation will be moderated by the incomparable Kojo Nnamdi, who has gone a long way toward making DC sizzle as host of The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5. 

This intimate evening will offer guests the chance to mingle with the honorees over exquisite Washingtonian fare while listening to live jazz. Don't miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. Tickets are $100 each and can be purchased online at http://hcwdc2011celebration.eventbrite.com/ , by emailing elucero[at]wdchumanities[dot]org, or calling 202-387-8391.

Monday, September 12, 2011

DC Humanities Book Reviews: Growing Up in Washington, D.C.: An Oral History

After an Admittedly Long Hiatus... The Book Review Series Continues

The following is Bridget Sullivan's second book review for Human Ties. Sullivan will enter the second year of in the Public History Master's Degree Program at American University this Fall. She has worked extensively this Summer as a liaison to the Humanities Council's DC Community Heritage Project grantees, and on other projects related to District history and culture.

Connors, Jill, ed. Growing Up in Washington, D.C.: An Oral History. The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. (Charleston: Arcadia, 2001) 158 pgs.

This work is the end product of an oral history project completed by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. It is a compilation of quotes taken from the wide spectrum of oral histories collected. The body of interviews is comprised of residents of all DC neighborhoods, and a wide range of ages. This variety creates a picture of a vibrant community, and reflects the changes the DC community has experienced over the last few decades.

The Historical Society grouped quotes around seven major facets of everyday life including, holidays, working in the city, school, and the creation of communities. These categories allow the reader to truly explore many of the unique aspects and historical traditions of the neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. In addition to the breadth of knowledge available in this work, the Historical Society has presented it in an easily readable and simple format.

The strength of this project comes from the gems of knowledge and history within the interviews conducted, which allow these resources to speak for themselves. There is no attempt to force a traditional narrative. Instead, quotations from the oral histories are organized and presented in a way that gives the reader a strong sense of the environment in DC during any given period or event. An introduction to the oral history participants is another warm touch of this work.

The book is designed not only to give a sense of the DC community, but also to welcome the reader into that community. It presents an important, and often overlooked, side of the history of Washington, D.C. Washington as a community as well as Washington as our nation’s capital. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the local history of Washington, D.C.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Midnight Poetry Slam!

Open Call for Slammers!


We would like to issue a small correction (with good news) to the previous post! The National Underground Spokenword Poetry Awards IS accepting entries for the Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC poetry slam which will take place at the Warehouse Theatre on September 24th from 10:30PM-1:30AM.

If you are interested in participating, please contact KaNikki Jakarta at kanikkij[at]gmail[dot]com.

The current list of slammers includes:


Shelly Bell
Mary Bowman
Sarah Lawson
Selina Maria
YaYa
Anais
Roscoe Burnems
Drew Law
Dwayne B
PAGES
Joseph LMS
Big Homey

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stay Up Late With the Humanities Council

Check Out Our Lineup for the First Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC

Washington art and culture is taking over the night on September 24-25, and the Humanities Council will be doing its part at the Warehouse Theatre, 645 New York Ave, NW, from 7PM to 3AM. The event, called Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC is modeled on similar festivals popular in Europe. The concept has recently been replicated on this side of the Atlantic in Montreal, Toronto, New York, and Miami among others, and starting this year, the nation's capital will begin to get in on the fun!

The Humanities Council's set kicks off with Thomas Sayers Ellis, a poet and photographer who will demonstrate his latest work – a photography exhibition on Go-Go, currently on display at The Gallery at Vivid Solutions, called (Un)Lock It: the Percussive People in the Go-Go Pocket. Sayers will project his images, using them to tell the story of Go-Go, the “non-stop, vernacular dance music unique to Washington, DC.”

At 8PM, If Not For Grace, will demonstrate another artistic style unique to Washington, DC – Hand Dance. The organization will offer a lecture, performance, and a participatory demonstration in which the audience will be invited to hand dance in the authentic DC style!

Later, the Humanities Council will bring its popular Humanitini to the stage. The evening's discussion “From Clubs to Pub,” will uncover the unique culture of DC night life, and will explore how it has changed throughout the years. Panelists will include Kate Micheal of K Street Kate, club DJ Adrian Loving, and opera follower-turned-nightlife scene man, Mood Bacho. The discussion will be moderated by Amy Saidman of SpeakeasyDC, and, as always, will turn on audience participation!

Washington, always a center of literary activity, has become a haven for modern poets and spokenword artists, and thus, no celebration of DC culture would be complete without a poetry slam! In partnership with the National Underground Spokenword Poetry Awards, the Humanities Council will offer a $200 prize to the best of the evening's registered participants. Make sure to drop in on the Warehouse Theatre for this one; the slam is set to begin at 10:30PM and will carry us over into the next day, ending at 1:30AM. The poets lined up for the event are seasoned competitors, so count on being impressed. If you think you have what it takes, step up to the open mic after the competition and show them what you've got!

After the poetry slam and open mic, grammy-nominated progressive hip-hop artist, Christylez Bacon will take over the stage until 3AM. As a performer, Christylez multi-tasks between various instruments such as the West African djembe drum, acoustic guitar, and the human beat-box (oral percussion), all while continuing the oral tradition of storytelling through his lyrics. Christylez will close out the evening, sending the audience out into the night, eyes and minds full, looking forward to next year!

Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC will take place on the night of September 24-25th all across the Mt. Vernon Square and Shaw neighborhoods of Washington. Check out the event website for more information on participating artists and event sites.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Your Humanitini

What Do You Want to Discuss Over Drinks, DC?

For four weeks in a row, from the end of July to the beginning of August, panelists and after-work barhoppers weighed in on some of the District's most pressing current issues at a series of Humanitini events. The Humanitini was developed several years ago by the Humanities Council as an attempt to get DC's younger population mixing, engaging, and talking. Generally the program topics are on issues felt keenly by the target audience including: internet dating, social media, and gentrification; clearly the scope of what can be discussed over a drink is wide open. 

Amy Saidman of SpeakeasyDC moderates the recent Humanitini,
"Sex, Scandals, and Social Media."
The format, on the other hand, is pure humanities. The civic engagement style makes use of a moderator who encourages a panel of experts to share their experiences, but the true character of a Humanitini event is revealed as the audience discussion begins to heat up. Opinions often differ, but the relaxed atmosphere encourages respect and allows meaningful conversation with little animosity. 

The past four Humanitinis were held at Bar 7 on Mt. Vernon Square, and Tabaq Bistro along the bustling U Street corridor in NW. The topics included: Sex, Scandals, and Social Media; Coming Out and Speaking Out; White House or Black House? (an powerful discussion on gentrification and changing demographics); and The ABC's of DC: Americans, Blogging, and Culture.
 
Each Humanitini attracted an engaged audience, and it is likely that the topics will make appearances in future iterations of the program. In the meantime, however, we are trying to get some additional feedback from those who attended the events, and some impressions from others who might be interested in joining the fun in the future! 

If you have a great idea for a Humanitini topic, please let us know via one or more of our points of contact listed below. What are the big issues in DC right now? What are the trends? Have you noticed something new that you are dying to discuss with a diverse group? 

Respond by:

Friday, August 26, 2011

One Common Unity "The MLK Streets Project" Set to Premiere

In January, Human Ties posted a brief article from Humanities Council Board Member Aaron Jenkins who attended a rough cut screening of One Common Unity's new documentary film, "The MLK Streets Project."

The completed film's premiere was scheduled to coincide with this weekend's unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the Mall, but may be postponed, along with many other MLK-related activities, due to imminent landfall of Hurricane Irene.

The following article, outlining the project's goals and activities, was contributed by the director. We will keep you posted via Facebook and Twitter (@HumanitiesDC) as we find out whether the premiere and associated events are postponed.

A common joke within the African-American community is that, although Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for nonviolence, streets named after the civil rights martyr throughout the country are oftentimes marred by crime, vandalism, declining black businesses (if any), and yes, violence.  During the summer of 2008, 12 high school students were selected to participate in A NU View, One Common Unity’s youth filmmaking program. They embarked on a historical and investigative filmmaking journey, during which they interviewed families and business owners residing near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE in Anacostia, researching the history of the neighborhood and its changing socio-economic conditions. The process was replicated for MLK Avenues in 10 other cities around the nation.


The group subsequently developed a documentary exploring the juxtaposition of the current status of Washington, DC’s MLK Ave. and the picture of America that Dr. King painted in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  The students personally related the progress of Dr. King's dream to a hip-hop generation, all while learning the fundamentals of filmmaking.


Selected with the help of principals and teachers, the students were focused on fostering positive community engagement and building an analysis of the socio-economic forces that keep people living in poverty. A NU View introduces students to alternative career choices in the entertainment industry providing firsthand experience in film production from start to finish. They can draw on their own personal experiences and use the art of story telling as a creative outlet, and a means for community activism.  This program increases the participants understanding of Washington’s cultural and social import through an artistic lens, challenging them to think critically about the country and the world in which we live.


Now three years later, this documentary film entitled, “The MLK Streets Project,” is finally set for release. The final product will be screened for audiences in DC through various local film festivals, air on DC Public Access Television, and be shown  at high schools and universities through-out the city.  While the film is screened at local high schools, One Common Unity facilitators will: host interactive workshops on conflict, resolution, and nonviolence; and facilitate dialogue on the importance of each person telling his or her own story.  This exposure will give the students a platform to share their art, open discussion on how to bridge the gap between civil rights and hip-hop, and give them greater awareness of their place in history.


On Sunday, August 28th, 2011, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington and coinciding with the unveiling of the national monument dedicated to Dr. King earlier that morning, the film will premiere at the Historic Gala Theatre (3333 14th Street NW) from 1-4PM. The event will include a VIP cocktail reception and a community discussion regarding the current state of MLK streets in relation to his “Dream.”

For more information visit http://www.OneCommonUnity.org .

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Upcoming Events at the German Historical Society

The Humanities Council will be co-sponsoring a lecture and award presentation with the German Historical Institute and the Black German Cultural Society, NJ beginning this weekend as part of the latter organization's First Annual Conference. Check out the following press releases, and don't miss these unique and informative opportunities!




August 19, 2011, 6:00 - 8:30 pm
Lecture at the German Historical Institute
Speaker: Noah Sow

Noah Sow is an acclaimed journalist, musician, and producer. In 2001, she founded der braune mob e.V., the first anti-racist German media watch organization. Her latest book Deutschland Black & White is based on her extensive experiences as an anti-racism activist.

Her lecture will be the public keynote address of the First Annual Convention of the Black German Cultural Society, Inc. to be held from August 19 to 21, 2011, at the GHI.

The event will also feature an award ceremony for Hans J. Massaquoi, who will be given the “Champion of the Humanities Award” in honor of his lifetime achievements as an author, journalist, and cultural ambassador. Accepting the award on behalf of Mr. Massaquoi will be his son, Hans J. Massaquoi, Jr.

In cooperation with the Black German Cultural Society, Inc. (a New Jersey nonprofit organization) and the Humanities Council of Washington, DC.

The event begins at 6:00 pm and will be held at the German Historical Institute, 1607 New Hampshire Avenue NW (Directions).

It will be followed by a brief reception.


Roots Germania: A Personal Search for Identity



August 18, 2011, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Film Screening and Panel Discussion at the German Historical Institute
Speakers: Pia Bungarten and Mo Asumang

On the eve of the First Annual Convention of the Black German Cultural Society, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the German Historical Institute will host a documentary presentation and lecture on "Roots Germania - A Personal Search For Identity".

The Grimme award nominated documentary "Roots Germania" was directed by Mo Asumang, the daughter of a German and Ghanaian. She decided to search for her own roots and identity, after she received a death threat by the neo-Nazi band White Aryan Rebels, who sing in one song: "This bullet is for you, Mo Asumang." Her search leads her through Germany and then to Ghana, where she speaks with family and friends, but she also engages with NPD party representatives and racist groups to ask questions many would not dare to ask. A discussion moderated by Pia Bungarten (Friedrich Ebert Foundation) with Mo Asumang, the film's direct, will follow the screening. 

In cooperation with the Black German Cultural Society, Inc. (a New Jersey nonprofit organization) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation

The event begins at 6:00 pm and will be held at the German Historical Institute, 1607 New Hampshire Avenue NW (Directions).

Light refreshments will be served following the discussion.

For Both Events Please RSVP (acceptances only) by Tel. 202.387.3355, Fax 202.387.6437 or E-mail events@ghi-dc.org

German Historical Institute
1607 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20009-2562
Phone: (202) 387-3355
Fax:     (202) 387-6437
Email: info@ghi-dc.org




Saturday, August 6, 2011

In the Pipeline: Political Activism in Columbia Heights

HCWDC Grantee Bell Clement Discusses Her Current Project

In this article, Clement provides context for her project, and describes her research plan. She hopes to provide regular updates as the project progresses.

The 1960s were a period of transition for the United States.  The nation shifted gears as the effects of a generation of prosperity and global power made themselves felt in structural changes to key institutions.  In this restless, affluent nation, political activists, in office or on the street, worked to open the next chapter of the American story.  Building on decades of advocacy and organizing, civil rights campaigns gained momentum and national attention.  In the White House, the Kennedy and Johnson administrations responded to the issues raised by civil rights leaders, and also proclaimed unconditional war on poverty and began to look carefully at conditions in the nation’s cities. 

Turmoil in the District of Columbia exemplified the times.  Inner city neighborhoods were reeling from the impact of a massive federal “urban renewal” campaign which, starting in the late 1950s,displaced 25,000 residents from the city’s Southwest quadrant.  D.C. Public Schools had desegregated immediately on rendering of the Supreme Court’s 1954 opinion in Bolling vs. Sharpe, but citizens’ battles over the implications of that order continued, culminating in the  Hanson vs. Hobson (1968) challenge to academic tracking.  Locals battled Congressional determination to ram national highway system feeders through old residential neighborhoods – “white men’s roads through black men’s homes”.  The ancient campaign for home rule reached its zenith with LBJ’s 1965 full court press for legislation and, in defeat, his creation of an appointed Mayor and council government as an interim step toward residents’ goal of autonomy.

In the midst of this tumult, Columbia Heights was distinguished by the energy of its organizing and advocacy campaigns. Centered on Fourteenth Street, a key retail corridor and the route of one of the first streetcar lines into the neighborhoods from the downtown; bordered on the west by the mansions and consulates of Sixteenth Street, the “Avenue of the Presidents,” and on the east by Howard University, Columbia Heights had always been a hub of commercial and social activity.  During the 1950s and early 1960s, the neighborhood experienced rapid transition as black householders took over from white owners, a result of the lifting of restrictive covenants, urban renewal displacements, and school desegregation in D.C., as well as more general economic trends.  

When the national political conversation and federal policymakers turned attention to poverty, race inequities, and urban conditions in the mid-1960s, Columbia Heights found itself at the center of implementation action.   The Cardozo Heights Association for Neighborhood Growth and Enrichment, Inc. was formed as a subsidiary of the city’s United Planning Organization to implement the Great Society’s 1964 War on Poverty programming in Columbia Heights.  CHANGE became a central actor in District-wide battles over the shape of program implementation – and allocation of federal funding – over the next few years.  The creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1965 and its 1966 Model Cities agenda reverberated in the neighborhood as local congregations stepped up to sponsor affordable housing developments on Fourteenth and Sixteenth Streets.  In the wake of the violence of April 1968,  area residents formed planning and development organizations such as Central Cardozo Concerned Citizens and the Columbia Heights Citizens Association, and claimed the right to direct the neighborhood’s rebuilding. 

Project Context:   This project will use oral history interviews and supporting research to document this phase of Columbia Heights’ political evolution.  This segment of research is built on the results of an inventory of Columbia Heights community history resources, including both witnesses and archival resources, completed with support from the Humanities Council during Summer 2009.  Both this and the earlier project are elements of my dissertation research at George Washington University’s Department of History.  The dissertation (working title:  “Measuring Liberalism:  ‘Creative Federalism’, Empowered Citizens, and the Great Society City”; anticipated completion 2012) explores the interaction among federal policymakers, community activists,and the events and ideologies of the decade, in reshaping American concepts of the city, citizenship, and federalism. It is my intention to publish the dissertation in book form.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Humanitini Continues!

Tonight's Conversation Tackles a Contentious But Important Topic


Though Humanitini events are meant to be both fun and informative, they can also cover complex and challenging issues. Tonight's Humanitini panelists have been assembled to discuss gentrification; that ever present, yet hazy socio-economic force that at once seems to bring improved standards of living, and increased displacement.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems with gentrification, or new urbanism, is that people are often unwilling to speak openly and honestly about it. Humanitini provides the perfect opportunity for people to express their views on the subject in a safe, judgement-free environment.

Entitled "White House or Black House?," tonight's Humanitini will begin at 6pm at Bar 7. The discussion usually lasts about an hour, and the panelists stick around to talk to the crowd, so stop by whenever you like. The conversation will be led by Rachel Grossman of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; scholar Sybil Roberts; Shani Hilton, author of “Confessions of a Black Gentrifier”; scholar Lawrence Guyot; and Jennifer Ragins. Amy Saidman of SpeakeasyDC will moderate.

This Summer's Humanitini series will wrap up next Wednesday with "The ABC's of DC: Americans, Blogs, and Culture." Panelists including Free in DC's Amy Melrose, the Pink Line Project's Philippa Hughes, and the renowned Prince of Petworth will talk about blogging your way to the top!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Living Images in My World: A History Beneath Us

DC Community Heritage Project Teaches Local Students the Historical Value of Cemeteries

DCCHP Intern Bridget Sullivan made a site visit to learn more about one of this Summer's grantee projects, "Living Images in My World: A History Beneath Us - Forgotten Ground Across the River Creek." The project, sponsored by the Columbia Heights Youth Club in partnership with I Saw! The Experience of Learning in DC, uses cemeteries to teach students about local history, and primary source research. In this article Sullivan recounts her experience spending the day with the students and staff.

From the Historical Marker Database
Yesterday I had the opportunity to join I Saw! The Experience of Learning in DC for the day during their summer program, A History Beneath Us-Forgotten Sacred Ground Across the River Creek. During the four week program, junior high students work with high school leaders to research and create a documentary to restore the identities of African-Americans buried in the Old Methodist-Mount Zion and Female Union Band Cemetery.  The students have delved into the history of those interred in the cemetery, and the rich history of the surrounding location. Most of the research has been done with the help of educational partners within the DC community. 

My experience with the program began with a bus tour of the area surrounding the cemetery led by historian, Dr. C. R. Gibbs. Gibbs introduced a number of important African-American heritage sites in the immediate vicinity of the cemetery. This dynamic tour was educational, enlightening, and kept everyone moving despite the summer heat. The students had the opportunity to learn the significance of the cemetery and its residents in the context of the historic greater Georgetown neighborhood. 

After an impromptu visit to Dumbarton House, an historic house museum near the cemetery, the students had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Neville Waters. Mr. Waters discussed the continuing work of the Afro-American Bicentennial Corporation to restore the cemetery. The AABC fought to save the cemetery in the 1970s against a movement to remove the graves to other locations in order to make room for residential construction in the area. It successfully argued for the historical significance of the site and began the work to clean and restore the cemetery. 

Following this discussion, the students visited the cemetery, poured libations in memory of those buried there, and placed flowers on the graves. Overall, this was a great experience and showed great potential for the final documentary. The students are taking full advantage of these unique opportunities to learn about their heritage within the DC community. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sex, Scandals, and Social Media

First Event of the Fall 2011 Humanitini Series is a Big Hit

Last night, panelists Stef Woods, Peter Chirinos, Marc Sandalow, and Amy Argetsinger answered questions from moderator Amy Saidman and an engaged audience on sex, politics, and the media. Why do politicians think they can get away with saying one thing and doing another? What do we as a society find so intriguing about their missteps and disgrace? Is it news, or is it a guilty pleasure? Check out some of the images from the program which was held at Bar 7.

Amy Argetsinger of the Washington Post gets things started by addressing the newsworthiness of political sex scandals.

Journalist Marc Sandalow offered a list of past political sex scandals, and many from the audience immediately noticed that the chronicle was almost entirely composed of white men. What are some possible reasons for this apparent racial and gender imbalance?


The audience listened as therapist Peter Chirinos explained that political figures involved in sex scandals tend to get more satisfaction from their affairs the longer they persist.

Attorney and sex blogger Stef Woods asserted that Washington is still, in some ways, a very conservative city; uncomfortable with open discussions of sexuality.

There was plenty of time after the program for the audience to continue the conversation with the panelists over a beer - or, of course, a Humanitini!

The next Humanitini will be held on Wednesday, July 27 at Tabaq (1336 U Street, NW). The panelists will discuss the journey from gay and in the closet to activist for the LGBT community. Clarence J. Fluker of GLBT Affairs, Andrew Barnett of SMYAL, a representative from the Washington Blade, and Christopher Dyer of GLBT Affairs will be in attendance.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Soul of the City Students Tour U Street, Analyze Connection Between Art and Identity

Art Criticism Workshop Conducted by Local Artist Khánh H. Lê and Tour Led By Expert Guide Judith Bauer

This past week, the 2011 Soul of the City students continued their exploration of Washington, DC as a place to make a home. They heard from local artist Khánh H. Lê whose family immigrated to the United States from Vietnam. Lê says his works reflect his ambiguous relation to both Vietnamese and American culture. "Identity" writes Lê, "is the central theme of my works, and I examine it through the bits and pieces of my personal memory and the collective history of the two cultures."

Judith Bauer, who led the students up and down U Street, is an experienced tour guide and expert on the history of the corridor, once the hub of African American culture in Washington, DC. Despite decades of architectural and demographic changes the neighborhood still visibly retains much of the history cultivated during a time when this bastion of black middle-class values flourished in the shadow of Howard University. This heritage can be seen in the surviving African American owned businesses, preserved buildings such as the Prince Hall Masonic Temple and the Bowen YMCA, and Cultural Tourism DC's well demarcated walking tour.

Below are a few students' reactions to the sessions as recorded in their daily journals...

Q. Smith on Lê's family's struggle to gain a foothold in the United States after immigrating from Vietnam to St. Louis, Missouri...


He is from Vietnam, but was raised in America. When he first came to the US, he had nothing. His family only had two thousand dollars to spend, and his father bought a car with it. Then he went to college to be a computer programmer, and shortly after he dropped out. He then received a scholarship to become an artist.

Nateeka Lee on Lê's emotional connection to his work...

Khánh does not like showing his parents his art creations because when he was young his father use to say he should never show his emotions. His father said, “If I hit you, don’t cry.” Plus, he said his creations are personal to him.

Diamond Bynum on the U Street Tour and the African American Civil War Museum...

Mrs. Bauer was a great tour guide. She taught me a lot of stuff about how U Street came to be what it is today. When we went to the museum, Mr. Frank Smith taught us the real history of how the slaves were freed and the how the Emancipation of 1863 came to be.

Kevin Chappell on self-emancipation and African American participation in the Civil War...

When we went to the museum, I did not know what I would learn. I thought I knew everything about how the slaves became free. When I watched the presentation, I learned that Abraham Lincoln did not really free the slaves, but they actually freed themselves.

Next week, Soul of the City moves downtown where they will meet Ward 4 City Councilmember Muriel Bowser at the John A. Wilson Building. They will also visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History where they will explore RACE: Are We So Different, a new exhibition which opened on June 18th.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

DC Humanities Book Reviews: A Neighborhood Guide to Washington, D.C.’s Hidden History

The First in a Series Covering Recent and Classic Publications on the Humanities in DC

The inaugural review for this series was written by Humanities Council intern, and graduate student in Public History, Bridget Sullivan. Sullivan will enter the second year of in the Public History Master's Degree Program at American University this Fall. She has worked extensively this Summer as a liaison to the Humanities Council's DC Community Heritage Project grantees, and on other projects related to District history and culture. 


Jeanne Fogle provides a comprehensive stop-by-stop guide to the major neighborhoods of Washington, DC in her work A Neighborhood Guide to Washington, D.C.’s Hidden History. Each chapter details the gems of history hidden inside the architectural landscape of the city. Ten to fifteen locations in each neighborhood represent the evolution and history of that area. Together, they provide a picture of the multifaceted history of the nation’s capital. 

Fogle’s book functions as a self-guided tour through some of the oldest neighborhoods in Washington, DC. The variety of sites makes this a good read for both newcomers to the city and Washingtonians alike. For newcomers, it gives a good introduction to the history of the city. Doing any one of these tours will leave the participants with an understanding of the neighborhood’s history and place in the DC community. On the other hand, the breadth of sites discussed is guaranteed to provide some new discoveries for those who have known the city for a number of years. Fogle excels at highlighting the history of buildings that most pass by without a second glance.   

One of the most interesting parts of the book is the fusion of social and architectural history. Fogle blends the two areas together to provide a comprehensive overview each location. She weaves together a variety of locations across the spectrum of historical significance. This variety ensures that there is something in each tour to engage the interest of all participants. 

Overall, Fogle’s guide is perfect as both an introduction to the city or as a resource for continued study. She successfully identifies some of the best historic gems in our nation’s capitol and provides a concise description of their historical significance. One of the many strengths of this book is the ability to create an individualized tour. The organization of the book allows easy planning. Further, the accompanying illustrations are both artistic and a resource for tour takers. A Neighborhood Guide to Washington, DC’s Hidden History is a must for city explorers.

Fogle's work sounds like a great accompanying text for Cultural Tourism DC's extraordinary series of self-guided walking tours, and a must-own introductory text for Washingtonians interested in connecting with their community's past.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Soul of the City Starts With a Trip to the Frederick Douglass Home National Historic Site

Students Marvel at the Gap Between Past and Present

The 2011 Soul of the City program is well underway and several of the students have begun to react to their experiences in their personal journals. Here are some of the students' thoughts from last week's events.

Mishayia Valle on visiting the Frederick Douglass House Historic Site...

I was amazed that most of his stuff was from 150 years ago and was still there, his canes and glasses. all the doors were still in the place. A lot of the dishes were still in the china cabinet, etc. I learned that Frederick Douglass had five kids, but the baby died of pneumonia and brain fluids. Fredrick Douglass' first wife, was named Anne after she passed away he married their white servant Helene Pitts.

Daja Alston reflects on the differences between a present-day home and Frederick Douglass' 19th Century home...

Frederick Douglass' house is like no houses now. Years ago Frederick’s house did not have any bathrooms and the husband and wife couldn’t sleep in the same bedroom when they had company. His house also did not have a refrigerator. Nowadays we have all the things they didn’t have long ago. We have bathroom, refrigerators, etc. Fredrick’s house did not have a kitchen when he first moved in the house, so when he moved in the house he built another room for space to build a kitchen in.

Aarionna Powell on Douglass' second marriage to Helene Pitts...

Back in his time it was very different than the time that I am living today. A lot of things has changed over the years. Now we have bathrooms, washing machines, dryers, and ironing boards and irons that you plug up to the wall to get hot. We now have air conditioners and heat instead of making fire for  heat. In his time him and his wife had to sleep in separate rooms; in my time if you are married, you can sleep int the same room as your mate. I would feel as though he was replacing my mother with a wealthy white woman if my father decided to remarry another woman. I wouldn’t want him to remarry another woman. 

The Soul of the City adventure continues this week with a trip to the U Street corridor where the students will participate in performing and digital arts workshops!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Inaugural Black German Cultural Society, Inc. Convention Announced

Propose a Topic of Conversation, Present a Panel, or Attend and Learn

Don't miss this great opportunity to discuss the international dimensions of race and culture. The following is from the website of the Black German Cultural Society, Inc.

The Black German Cultural Society, Inc. is excited to announce its First Annual Convention to be held from August 19 to 21, 2011, at the German Historical Institute (GHI) in Washington, DC. With the theme of “Strengthening Transatlantic Connections,” the convention will host guests and presenters from our international community in Germany and the United States.

Our keynote speaker will be Noah Sow, the acclaimed journalist, musician, producer and author of “Deutschland Schwarz Weiß” (C. Bertelsmann, 2008), who will speak about “Geteilte Geschichte: The Black Experience in Germany and the US.”

In cooperation with the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, the convention will also feature an award ceremony for Hans J. Massaquoi, who will be given the “Champion of the Humanities Award” in honor of his lifetime achievements as an author, journalist, and cultural ambassador.

Additionally, the convention will feature a photo exhibit on "The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany," and "Homestory Deutschland: Gelebt - Erlebte Schwarze Deutsche Geschichte(n)."

Furthermore, the meeting will offer workshops, round tables, as well as panel discussions on Afro-German history, culture and literature facilitated by our board members, partner organizations, and distinguished academics in the field.

Confirmed participants include, among others:

Vera Grant (W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University)
S. Marina Jones (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Maria Hoehn (Vassar College)
Leroy Hopkins (Millersville University)
Martin Klimke (GHI Washington)
Priscilla Layne (University of California, Berkeley)
Yara-Colette Lemke Muniz de Faria (Berlin)
Sara Lennox (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Amilcar Shabazz (University of Massachussets, Amherst)
William Strickland (University of Massachussets, Amherst)

Topics will include “Race and Ethnicity in Postwar Germany,” “Transatlantic Adoption and ‘Brown Babies’,” “Finding and Reuniting Birth Families,” “Black German Jewishness” as well as “Sharing our Stories,” among others.

We would, however, also like to give participants the opportunity to present during one of our panel discussions, facilitate a workshop, or contribute to the convention in other ways. Please inform us of your interest, ideas, and potential topics.