In 1946, Washington, DC was on the precipice of a Civil Rights movement. One of the first tests of the city’s shifting beliefs came with the opening of the George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium and its use for commercial theater performances. The first play put on at the theater, Joan of Lorraine, turned out to be a experiment in the continuance of race-based discrimination policies. Was the swift public backlash to the segregation enforced by GW enough to tear down the artificial barriers between black and white Washingtonians at Lisner?
In 1948, Black journalist Alice Dunnigan put the first of many accomplishments under her belt when she became the first Black female reporter to join the White House press pool and the first Black reporter to go on a campaign trip with a president. Doubted by many reporters due to her gender and race, Dunnigan had to fight for even a smidgeon of the recognition that her male journalist colleagues got, though it never stopped her from doing what she loved.
In a city full of millions of people and a myriad of activities to take part in, a twenty-five-year-old Albert Small roamed the concrete jungle that was New York City in 1949. He was a bit bored without his beloved girlfriend, Shirley, by his side. Forced to occupy his time while Shirley worked her Saturday retail job to pay for school. Albert was left to his own devices. He was more used to the slower pace of his home in Washington, DC. The hustle and bustle of the people, noise, and sights of one of the world’s largest metropolises overwhelmed him at points. On this particular Saturday, Albert ducked into an antique bookstore as a means to escape the sensory overload that is the Big Apple. What he found changed his life.
Trekking through the thick winter snow of the Pyrenees mountain range, Virginia Hall struggled with each passing step. After thirteen months in war-torn France with insufficient access to food, heating, and clothes, the once striking thirty-six-year-old lost the glow of youth. Hardened by the death, loss, and destruction, she witnessed at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators, she was determined to complete the arduous journey through the mountain range that separated occupied France from neutral Spain.
In 1933, eleven words made Minnie Keyes a wealthy woman. They were scrawled on a blank telegram slip, tied to a pencil with an elastic band, and stuffed under a mattress. “Minnie Keyes: You have been good to me. All is yours.” These sentences were the final will and testament of Leonard A. Hamilton, who had lived as a boarder at Keyes’ home for 30 years. Once a court accepted the scrap as legitimate, Keyes inherited Hamilton’s $100,000 estate, about $2.1 million in today’s money. Most of its value lay in real estate: dozens of homes scattered across Washington. The properties Minnie Keyes came to own, however, were not the city’s best. And what should happen to them became the source of great debate.
In 1949, a shocking mid-air crash near National Airport killed more people than any previous air disaster in U.S. history. It did not take long for investigators to place the blame on one unlucky pilot. But was Capt. Erick Rios Bridoux really at fault?
In 1933, William Dudley Pelley founded the Silver Legion, an American-made fascist organization to match the movements seizing power in Europe. Seven years later, the new House Un-American Activities Committee called him to Washington to explain his actions.