• White students at Anacostia High School and others across the city staged a walkout in early October 1954 to protest school integration. [Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection © Washington Post]
    After Bolling v. Sharpe
     
     
    After the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools in 1954, some white students in Washington staged walkouts to protest the decision.
  • Asbury United Methodist Church from Wikimedia Commons
    Community of Faith
     
     
    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.
  • Albert Small in his later years. He stands in front of a  pairing of the National Mall/
    A not so small man in DC history
     
     
    See how one DC man impacted the way we remember the history of the nation’s Capital.
  • Pope John Paul II holds his crozier to his face during mass he celebrated on the mall in Washington, D.C., Oct. 7, 1979. At the pontiff's side is Monsignor Virgilio Noe of the Vatican. (AP Photo/Paul Vathis)
    Pope John Paul II
     
     
    For longtime Washingtonians, the excitement over Pope Francis's 2015 visit to Washington was like turning back the clock to 1979.
  • Would you give this man a library card? (Source: Wikipedia)
    Founding Father
     
     
    George Washington may have never told a lie, but he was apparently a deadbeat book borrower.

Ethel Payne: First Lady of the Black Press

Black female journalist Ethel Payne stands with a smile on her face amidst a crowd in Shanghai, China while she was abroad reporting for the Chicago Defender in the 1970s.

One of just two Black women in the White House Press Corps during the 1950s and 1960s, Ethel Payne repeatedly demonstrated her determination to deliver the truth to her readers -- informed by her experience. Responding the criticism that she should be more objective, Payne responded, “I stick to my firm, unshakeable belief that the black press is an advocacy press, and that I, as a part of that press, can’t afford the luxury of being unbiased…when it comes to issues that really affect my people, and I plead guilty, because I think that I am an instrument of change.” 

Turkey Tayac's Fight for the Piscataway People

A photograph of the Potomac river. There are two trees on either side of the image. There looks to be two men on a dock in the distance. The water is flat.

For years, Turkey Tayac fought almost singlehandedly for the rights and recognition of his Native American group, the Piscataways. In the 1950s, he found some unlikely allies and successfully fended off an effort to build high rise apartments on sacred Piscataway lands in southern Maryland. A few years later, he helped convince the National Park Service to preserve the land for posterity. It was a remarkable achievement, and Turkey Tayac's work for inclusion would continue, even after his death.

This is a black and white photograph of a woman wearing a mask, she wears a hat with the familiar plus sign associated with the Red Cross. Despite the mask covering most of her face, she wears a serious expression.

The Perils of Pandemic and War: Spanish Flu Brings D.C. to its Knees

It was the start of October and the dog days of summer in the nation’s capital had officially come to an end. The crisp autumn air, a relief to most Washingtonians in years past, was an ominous foreshadowing of the days and weeks to come. There would be no more open windows in homes, streetcars, or workplaces for the foreseeable future. With an invisible killer hanging in the air, Washington would soon find itself in crisis — and transplanted war workers bore the brunt of it.

Mighty Yet Stubby: A Four-Legged War Hero Takes D.C. By Storm

A black and white photo of Stubby. He stands on all fours and stares past the camera. He wears his chamois n blanket with numerous medals pinned on.

Stubby, the World War I war dog looms large in animal and American military history. By no means a professionally trained canine, Stubby was smuggled from Connecticut to France where he first served in a morale position. He took on a greater role as he got used to warfare, aiding the troops any way he could. When he came back to America, he became a celebrity, especially in Washington, DC.  

Encore: How the Tivoli became the Epicenter of a Debate over Urban Renewal

The revitalized Tivoli Theater in Columbia Heights, with tan walls and a red roof in an Italian architectural style. There is a large marquee, and signs with the word "Tivoli."

The Tivoli Theater's grand opening in 1924 was heralded by a grand parade and a carnival which attracted hundreds of Washingtonian's to the Golden Age movie theater. Yet, just over 50 years later, the Tivoli had its windows bolted up and doors closed, no longer the shining light in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. What followed afterwards was a dramatic decades-long fight over the fate of the Tivoli, bringing up questions surrounding urban renewal and the future of the neighborhood, which had suffered greatly after the 1968 riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Grant Us More Jazz on the Radio: How Felix Grant Brought Jazz to the D.C. Airwaves

An up close shot of Grant talking into a microphone (1960).

Shock rippled through the steamy streets of Washington, DC, in early August 1979. The source of the buzz was not the result of back-to-back testing of nuclear weapons by the United States and the Soviet Union. It was not even the sale of the nearby Baltimore Orioles to D.C. lawyer Edward Bennett Williams for the grand sum of $12.3 million. The source of the city’s consternation involved the smooth timbre of a DMV staple – or the lack thereof. Felix Grant – one of Washington’s most beloved radio deejays for a generation – was being pulled from the airwaves.

A view of Southwest from above. This is from pre-urban renewal circa 1939. Crowded streets full of buildings are in the foreground and the Capitol building is visible in the background.

The Cost of Urban Renewal in Southwest DC

After World War II, Southwest Washington, DC, underwent a bout of complete urban renewal to clean up the blighted neighborhood. But was it worth it? New buildings went up, but a community was torn apart, economic segregation ensued and the project failed to deliver on many of the promises that were made.


 

Can you hear me now? The Birth of Wireless Communication on L Street

Illustration of the Photophone’s Receiver, Originally From: 1881 1880. http://www.bluehaze.com.au/modlight/ModLightBiblio.htm. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Photophony1.jpg.

Of all the great minds to inhabit Washington, D.C. through the years, perhaps one of the most consequential yet often overlooked, was Alexander Graham Bell. Though his famous 1876 telephone experiment took place in Boston, Bell moved to the District shortly thereafter and worked on what he considered to be his greatest inventions in several Northwest labs over the next few decades. Of his many D.C.-based achievements, perhaps the most significant occurred at his small lab on L Street and led to the eventual birth of fiberoptic communication.

GALA Hispanic Theatre: Celebrating Latin American Culture in the Arts

A closeup on the marquee of the Tivoli theatre. A vertical red sign reads "GALA" and the words on the marquee advertise ticket sales.

The 1970s and 1980s saw increased Latin American immigration to the United States, and to D.C. in particular. At the time, there was limited access to Latin American performing arts, something that Rebecca Read and Hugo Medrano sought to fix when they founded Grupo de Latinoamericanos Artistes (GALA) in 1976. They never expected, though, that GALA would take off and eventually become the National Center for the Latino Performing Arts. Their journey to becoming cultural icons in D.C. also coincided with the changing Latin American community in the District.

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