• Tractorcade photo by Jeff Tinsley, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: 79-1700-29.
    Tractorcade 1979
     
     
    In February 1979, thousands of farmers came to Washington on tractors to demonstrate for agriculture policy reform. They snarled traffic for weeks but then came to the rescue when an unexpected blizzard buried the city under two feet of snow.
  • Brumidi's Apotheosis of Washington. (Photo source: Architect of the Capitol)
    Art History
     
     
    19th-Century Italian-American artist Constantino Brumidi's frescoes and murals can be seen throughout the U.S. Capitol.
  • John Fahey
     
     
    In 1959, John Fahey of Takoma Park created a new genre that inspired generations of musicians.
  • Alexander Robey Shepherd
     
     
    Perhaps no person is more responsible for transforming Washington, D.C. than Alexander Shepherd, who served as the District's Governor under the short-lived Territorial Government system in the 1870s.
  • Frederick Douglass spent plenty of time in Washington before the Civil War, but didn't become a permanent resident until 1872. (Photo source: Library of Congress)
    African American History
     
     
    Frederick Douglass "had small faith" in his "aptitude as a politician" but he was pressed into service in local D.C. politics during the 1870s.
View of Asbury United Methodist Church

Eli Nugent's Asbury Chapel

When Reverend Eli Nugent witnessed the silencing and segregation of fellow Black worshippers at a D.C. church, he decided that his community would be better off worshipping somewhere else. His efforts created one of the first and oldest Black churches in the city: Asbury United Methodist. 

Local Activists, Backed by District’s Black Churches, Led the Fight for DC School Desegregation

Integrated classroom at Anacostia High School

The history of school desegregation in the District is rooted in civil disobedience. The story is one of a grassroots organization of parents that challenged the institution of legalized segregation to guarantee better schools for their children. Throughout the seven-year struggle, the activists were supported by the District's Black churches, and their mission was grounded in the principles of faith and social justice.

Razing the Mother Church: The Sale and Destruction of Saint Augustine Catholic Church

Photo of St. Augustine Catholic Church circa 1899.

For seventy years, St. Augustine Catholic Church, at 15th and L St., NW, was the place where Washington's Black Catholics were baptized, married, and laid to rest. Known as "The Mother Church" of Black Catholics, the property was sold to The Washington Post in 1946. The transaction caught many parishioners by surprise and caused a rift with the white leadership of the Archdiocese.

Anti-Lynching Activism at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church

Cover of Frederick Douglass's 1894 speech, "Lessons of the Hour," a scathing rebuke of lynching delivered at Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, D.C.

In the late 1800s, Metropolitan A.M.E. Church was a center for anti-lynching activism in Washington, D.C. Famed journalist Ida Wells-Barnett addressed the church on at least two occasions and, in 1894, Frederick Douglass delivered one of his last speeches from the Metropolitan A.M.E. pulpit. Entitled “The Lessons of the Hour” Douglass's address was an epic condemnation of lynching – from its pervasiveness, to its general acceptance amongst both Southern and Northern whites.

"Our Neighbor" Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton Inauguration 1993 (Source: Wikipedia)

In 1993, then President-Elect Bill Clinton’s choice of location for his inaugural morning prayer service was certainly a departure from precedent. For the first time in history, this time honored tradition took place at a historically-Black church: Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal on M Street in downtown Washington. Church officials and clergy were pleased -- as Metropolitan administrator Roslyn Stewart Christian said: “He picked a neighborhood church … 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is right around the corner. He intends to be our president, our leader and our neighbor.”

The title page of a nineteenth century book of ballads containing "the Ballad of Chevy Chase"

What's in a Name? Chevy Chase

Though most Americans (and Google) associate the name with Cornelius “Chevy” Chase, the actor of National Lampoon fame, those of us in the D.C. area know that Chevy Chase, Maryland had it first. Rumor has it, though, that the man and the town actually get their names from the same place: an English ballad that’s at least 500 years old.

What’s in a Name? Anacostia

East & west branch below Washington

How did the historic D.C. neighborhood of Anacostia get its name? The short answer is, of course, its proximity to the Anacostia River; but the river has its own history that’s worth unpacking. Like the Potomac, Anacostia’s name can be traced back to the area’s Indigenous population – in this case, the Nacotchtank of the Algonquian stock.

View of the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial from the White House, covered in snow

The "White Christmas" of 1962

If a white Christmas is what you want, D.C. might not be the best place for you. The area has only seen a handful of snowy holidays. But the most impressive came in 1962, when a record-setting 5 inches fell on December 25. To date, it's still the most snowfall recorded on Christmas Day in Washington.

A Christmas Benefit at the Height of an Epidemic

The Whitman-Walker Clinic's Original Location. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In December of 1986, parents were rushing to the stores to snatch a Cabbage Patch Kid, G.I. Joe, or Teddy Ruxpin off the shelf before they were all gone. That same month, the generosity of a local benefactor was a touching reminder of what the holiday season is really about. On December 21, 1986, Robert Alfandre welcomed 30 people infected with AIDS into his home in northwest Washington for a Christmas party.

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