In 1847, seventy slaves went to the Maryland courts to enforce a deed of manumission granting them their freedom. What should have been a simple matter exploded into a nine-year court case that spun furiously around the ominous question at its core: if a man frees his slaves on moral conviction, does that make him insane?
William Levitt is often called the "Father of Suburbia," after his planned communities became popular in post-war New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. When he finally came to the D.C. area, his modern and afforable homes took Washingtonians by storm.
By 1963, “Belair at Bowie” was thriving. Since its opening in 1961, over 2,000 houses were occupied. But its prosperity hid an uncomfortable truth. William Levitt’s vision of the perfect neighborhood included attractive homes, affordable prices, comfort, and community — but only one type of neighbor. From the moment Levitt arrived in Washington, local activists — and even the government — became aware of the developer’s racist policy: none of the homes in Belair could be sold to people of color.