Friday, July 3, 2009
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
In October 4, 1994 the doors of Reid Temple AME church opened for worship and were named after honoree Bishop Frank M. Reid Sr. Reid Temple went through many struggles doing their time of growth and also went through a series of ministers. Rev. Dr. Lee P. Washington is the current Minister of Reid Temple for over 10 years. Even though the church went through hardship, Reid Temple was still growing and continuing to have new members and a variety of ministries for the members of the church. In 1990, Reid Temple had approximately 300 members. In 2009, Reid Temple now has approximately 2,000 members.
My children and I joined Reid Temple in October 2009. I joined this organization because I am Methodist and I wanted to stay in the Methodist denomination. My mother visited the church first and told me that I should attend service one Sunday and I did. I felt Reid Temple had everything I needed on spiritual basics. After my family and I joined, we were told to attend a new- membership orientation that explains the history of A.M.E. and who founded Reid Temple.
I choose this item because of the history of A.M.E. that my family and I are part of as African Americans. Reid Temple symbolizes the spiritual growth being an African American in today’s society.
HS129, Summer 1 2009
On June 1, 2009 I had the pleasure of hearing Justice Clarence Thomas speak at Quince Orchard High school’s graduation. When I went up on stage to receive my diploma, I, along with all my classmates, got the privilege of shaking this man’s hand. Justice Clarence Thomas was the keynote speaker at my graduation at Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. He left my peers and me with interesting and motivational words to help us in the future. After hearing what he had to say, I was interested in finding out more about this man and this gave me an opportunity to research Justice Thomas in detail. Also, the convenience that Justice Thomas was at my high school graduation also motivated me to write this post about him.
The surprised reactions and concerns that swarmed through the halls of my school when everyone found out that Thomas would be speaking at graduation were insane. Before everything, I didn’t even know who Thomas was. I was clueless. Even with no knowledge of this man, and I still felt honored that a Supreme Court Justice would take time out of his busy schedule to come talk at Quince Orchard High’s graduation. Walking from class to class, I overheard multiple opinions about Thomas. Some classmates reacted positively and were really excited the Quince Orchard managed to get a Supreme Court Justice. Others however didn’t react so positively.
The controversy that has gone on throughout Thomas’s life concerning sexual harassment charges took a toll on some of my classmates. One classmate in particular actually threatened a strike or to stand up and turn their back while Thomas was speaking. The principal of my High school, Carole Working, warned this student that they wouldn’t be able to receive their diploma if they disrespected the speaker. She couldn’t stop her from a strike since it would violate the first amendment but the strike never happened. In reaction to this classmate’s threats about what she would do at graduation, many believed she would ruin it. I remember hearing someone say “I know she has a right to free speech and everything, but she still shouldn’t ruin this day for everyone else.”
The controversy about Thomas heightened so much that I spent an entire period, 45 minutes, in my Advanced Placement Environmental Science Class discussing what graduation would be like and what our one classmate might do that may ruin it for many if not everyone. One person who took part in that discussion was Stanford bound football player and my classmate, Terrence Stephens. Stephens along with another football player and classmate Jason Ankrah were the reason for Thomas speaking at graduation.
Ankrah and Stephens were on a flight back from Nebraska where they were being recruited for football when they met Thomas. They sat in coach, and Thomas surprisingly did to. Terrence told my environmental class during our discussion that he had no idea who Thomas was when he approached him and Ankrah on the plane. Thomas asked them if they were the football players from Quince Orchard named Terrence Stephens and Jason Ankrah. Not knowing who he was, Ankrah and Stephens were terrified. After a little conversation, they found out he was Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. During conversation, Stephens brought up the issue of not having a keynote speaker for graduation at that time. Thomas agreed that he would speak and one of his reasons for being at Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall on June 1st was because of Ankrah and Stephens.
When Thomas got up to speak, no one knew what to expect. He talked about perseverance through adversity, overcoming obstacles to capture your dream, and his life. His speech was heartfelt and I feel as if everyone took something from his words. Whether it was being inspired or just learning about Thomas’s life, I am sure that everyone will remember the day when Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at Quince Orchard High School’s graduation on June 1st, 2009 and received a standing ovation.
Hours before Thomas entered Constitution Hall in Washington D.C., some men from secret service swept through the Hall swabbing for gun powder and maybe even anthrax, one of my friends told me. They had earpieces in their ear and were stationed throughout the hall when Thomas arrived until he left. I am not sure about how he arrived or left, but he made a lasting impact on everyone in Constitution Hall that day, even my classmate who threatened to strike.
Clarence Thomas was born on June 23, 1948 in a small, impoverished African American community in Pinpoint, Georgia. It was settled by freed West African slaves known as Gullahs (Kroft). His family descended from slaves in the South. Thomas’ father left his family when Thomas was only two and when he was seven, he and his younger brother moved in with their Grandfather. When Thomas was ten, he began to work on the fields that his grandfather owned from sunrise to sunset. He was what CBS news called a “field hand.”
Thomas was the only African American at his high school and at the age of sixteen, since his Grandfather was Catholic, he considered entering the priesthood. He attended St. John Vianney’s Minor Seminary on the Isle of Hope. After that, he attended the Conception Seminary College which was a Roman Catholic seminary in Missouri. He left the church due to a racist comment from one of his classmates about the shooting of Martin Luther King Jr. A nun from the seminary suggested going to the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. There, he founded the Black Union in the school and he received multiple deferments from the military draft. Many young African American men received deferments to enter the Vietnam War, like Thomas. He ended up avoiding the draft due to curvature of the spine, and he went on into the study of law (The Oyez Project).
In 1971, Clarence Thomas graduated High school with a cum laude in English literature and went on to Yale Law School. In 1974 he earned a Juris Doctor degree and graduated towards the middle of his class. Between 1974 and 1977, he was appointed and served as the Assistant Attorney General in Missouri under John Danforth (Cornell). In 1977 to 1979, he became an attorney with a lawyer named Monsanto in St. Louis, Missouri.
In 1979 Thomas moved to Washington D.C. where he again worked under John Danforth, this time as a legislative assistant. In 1981 he joined the Reagan administration and was then appointed Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education until 1982. In 1982 Thomas became chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which he served for eight years.
In June of 1989 he was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He took the oath of office on March 12, 1990 and lasting until October 1991, Clarence Thomas served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. When news came about concerning the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to take his place. Thomas took the oath of office in October 23, 1991 and to this day he remains one of the Supreme Court Justices in the country (Cornell).
However, Thomas’s journey to get to office is complicated and filled with controversy. When Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall announced his retirement, Bush decided to nominate Thomas. Many opposed this nomination especially minority groups who opposed Thomas’s views on civil rights. Before Senate voted to appoint Thomas, he had to go through questioning from the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee.
What delayed his appointment was a last-minute witness named Anita Hill. She accused Thomas of sexual misconduct when she worked for him. Many were appalled and surprised about the accusation put on Thomas by Hill but the Committee was not able to find convincing proof that the allegations were true. Senate voted 52 to 48 to confirm Thomas’s nomination to the High Court. Even though nothing was proven, the accusation split black community’s views over Thomas’s nomination but nevertheless he became a Supreme Court Justice. To this day, people still believe that Thomas was involved with sexual harassment shown by the reactions of some of my classmates, but nothing has been proven (The Oyez Project).
The treatment of blacks throughout the country has improved since the pre Civil War era, but it still lacks in some respects because of expectations of some people. In a CBS interview, Thomas states that people think that because he is black, he must think a certain way. He told the interviewer, "I'm black. So I'm supposed to think a certain way. I'm supposed to have certain opinions.” He states that some people to this day still make judgments based on what you look like. This statement proves that racism is still exists today. Even though racism still is present in our society, future historians should note the change between now and back then. Back then, African Americans were thought of as an inferior race but now they are acknowledged as human beings that deserve the same treatment as whites, even if they may not receive it.
Throughout Clarence Thomas’ life, he has overcome adversity and has accomplished so many things that no one would have ever thought possible. From working on his grandfather’s fields like a slave to becoming one of the most influential and important men in the country, Clarence Thomas has proved most of the society wrong. After a trivial case based on allegations of sexual harassment by his subordinate, Thomas was still appointed as one of the Supreme Court Justices (Kroft). Clarence Thomas stands as the second African American to serve as a Supreme Court Justice, an accomplished and successful black man, and someone that everyone should know. He is the epitome of the Marty McFly’s statement, “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”
"'If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything' - Marty McFly."Muze Clothing Blog. Muze. 06 June 2009
"Clarence Thomas." The Oyez Project. 06 June 2009
Kroft, Steve. "Clarence Thomas: The Justice Nobody Knows - CBS News." CBS News - Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News. 30 Sept. 2007. 06 June 2009
"LII: US Supreme Court: Justice Thomas." Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School. 06 June 2009
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
This time I chose to go and check out the Boyds Negro School. It is located in Boyds, Maryland. I chose this site because I have driven past it before and was curious to learn more about it since it is so close to where I live. I then searched it on the web and found a web site for the location. It is located off of White Ground Road, a back road located at the end of Clopper Road in Boyds. I visited this site on June 14th 2009.
The school is a one-room 22 x 30 foot wooden building, heated by a wood stove. This school served as the only public school for African Americans in the Boyds area from 1895-1936. The schoolhouse served students in grades 1-8, many of whom walked for miles to attend classes at the school. The school was purchased in 1980 by BHS (Boyds Historical Society), the school was then restored to its original condition in approximately 1900.
Boyds Historical Society was organized in 1975 (as the Boyds/Clarksburg Historical Society). Their membership consists of local residents who share an interest in preserving the community's history. The Boyds Historical Society has done many things for the Boyds Community today which makes it very important for future generations to know to keep the BHS going. They have established an archive and museum facility for the community. They have preserved the Boyds Negro School as a Maryland Historic Site and they promote and encourage activities that educate, entertain, and develop community fellowship. They also provide space for community functions, events and festivals. This is just an overall great place for the community and is a great place to remember.
This site depicts where African Americans would have gone to school in the early 1900’s. It shows that they didn’t have the best facilities as it is a one room building that is not very big. They had an old outdoor restroom that was basically a hole in the ground that was in the middle of the woods. They used hand me down books from the white schools and didn’t have the best supplies. This site is important to see because you can see for yourself how African Americans were segregated and how they didn’t receive the best schools, books and basically everything. Just another thing to show you how African Americans did not deserve what they got. This shows future historians why the world should never be segregated again and that everyone deserves equal opportunities.
Boyds Historical Society: http://www.boydshistory.org/
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
The pictures attached are of Dee’s Beauty Supply and Salon. I believe this black business is a great depiction of African American life today as we continue to grow in current America. This black business is located in Germantown, Maryland and was founded by Dee Harris in 1992.
I chose to write about this business because I have known the owner, Dee Harris, since my family and I moved to Germantown in 1999. Ever since 1999 my family and I have been customers of Dee’s Beauty Supply and Salon. In its early existence Dee’s shop was not solely a beauty supply shop. For the first 9 years of its existence it was a movie rental store that also sold a small selection of beauty supplies. This movie rental business was somewhat successful but over the years competition began to impose on her proceeds.
When a new Blockbuster Video opened across the street from the Dee’s Shop it forced her to shift her efforts to her beauty supplies. This move proved to be a smart business choice as there were few other beauty supply areas to compete with. Although there were many commercial hair products on the market, Dee’s Beauty Supply and Salon, allows African Americans to locate products specifically created for their hair. It was not until Dee opened a salon within the shop that her business truly began to flourish. This provided a convenient place for my sisters as well as other local women to get their hair washed and styled. In 2007 Dee was able to expand her business by opening another beauty supply and salon shop in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Dee’s Beauty Supply and Salon not only shows how African Americans were able to make their way in today’s business world, but how they were able to improvise as well as adapt in order to survive. In many ways, it resembles our days as a people trying to survive in this country’s founding years.
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
The last weekend of May, 2009, I visited one of my best friend’s work. We were planning a party for her mother’s birthday. That’s how I happened to take pictures of her coworkers and boss. This hotel that she works for is located in Greenbelt, Maryland. When I was deciding what to write about for the second blog assignment, I came up with these pictures. Since the assignment is supposed to show daily life of African American in these days, it perfectly fits to bring out pictures from my experience.
As this course is mainly about the history of African American, I am able to see how it has changed over times from the period of slavery and now where everyone is considered equal. Learning how poor condition of their lives held before and how they worked hard to stand where they are now is just beautiful and emotional. Unlike early 1800s now African Americans are gaining higher education. It is even amazing to see that not only they are educated, but they are in the position to educate people and become leaders of others.
These pictures prove that people are living in such a blended society and we feel comfortable working around anybody from any racial background and fully ready to accept the diversity with no problems. Every worker in this hotel has become friends to each other even though I know most of these people working in the hotel are from Poland, Russia, or Moldavia. I can tell that this is a perfect example of place that explains how we coexist.
After that day I met them in the birthday party of my friend’s mother. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures from the party but we had a great time together. This second piece is now completing the blog assignment, but I know that it is going to be opening more opportunity for future historian to study and research life of African American in 21st century. I am glad to work on this assignment and hoping that the world gets better for the future as we get a better understanding for each other.
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
In the mid 20th century while Malcolm X preached of “bloody overthrow” of the injustices toward black people, and while Martin Luther King Junior was staging non-violent civil rights protests, Thurgood Marshall was fighting in court to break the bonds of the racist Jim Crow Laws.  Thurgood Marshall was born on July 2, 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated at the top of his class from a historically black college called Lincoln University. Immediately after graduation he attended Howard University Law School, where he met his long time mentor named Charles Hamilton Houston. It was with this mentor that Thurgood Marshall sought to overturn the 1898 court case of Plessy v. Ferguson.
I chose to post about Thurgood Marshall because he is a native of Maryland, and he has a local school named after him that is called Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. This school is in Gaithersburg, MD, and it’s located at 12260 McDonald Chapel Drive. Although I did not attend this school I do have many friends whom went there. One friend named Neal said that he remembers in one of his classes that he learned a little history about Thurgood Marshall. The picture of the school is from http://marshall.gpisd.org/.
Thurgood Marshall has other honors than just schools that are named after him. There is a Thurgood Marshall memorial located in Annapolis, Maryland. At this memorial there is a bronze bust of Thurgood Marshall. The picture is from this website: http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/stagser/s1259/123/friends/marshall_airport/html/Thurgood_Marshall_Tribute.html.
Thurgood Marshall is most well-known for his perseverance and victory as a lawyer in the Supreme Court case named Brown V. Board of Education held in 1951. This case led to the legal integration of school systems and denied that “separate, but equal” from Plessy V. Ferguson was indeed, not equal. Thurgood Marshall argued that the 14th amendment provided equal protection under the law, and that this includes African-Americans. After winning this landmark case, Thurgood Marshall helped to spark the civil rights movement. Winning this case seems to deem naming a school after him a perfectly fitting honor.
Thurgood Marshall has done more than just one win landmark case. In his lifetime he has: been Chief Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people, helped draft a constitution for the emerging nations of Ghana and Tanzania, served as a judge on the U.S Court of Appeals, and served as Justice on the United States Supreme Court.2
Future generations should remember the perseverance of Thurgood Marshall and how he never lost track of his goal to gain equal rights for African-Americans in the United States. African-Americans have the strongest sense of actualization of goals and historians should document this accordingly. African-Americans have come from slavery to centuries of protests and standing up for their rights and accepting nothing but success in gaining equal rights as people in the United States of America.
 Williams, Juan. "Introduction to the Book." Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary. 4 June 2009.
 "Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court Justice." Thurgood Marshall Biography. Thurgood Marshall College. 5 June 2009
 "About the Case." Brown vs. Board of Education. 11 Apr. 2004. Brown Foundation for Educational Equity. 5 June 2009
2 "Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court Justice." Thurgood Marshall Biography. Thurgood Marshall College. 5 June 2009
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
While reading the chapters for this week’s assignment, I discovered that the Prince Hall Masons and African Methodist Episcopal Church significantly influenced the lives of African Americans prior to, during, and after the antebellum era. The topic immediately peaked my interest because my father is a Prince Hall Mason and a Steward at Galbraith AME Zion Church in Northwest Washington D.C. However, because I lacked knowledge in freemasonry, I sought mainly to focus on Prince Hall Masonry as it pertains to this era.
Yesterday, Saturday, June 13, 2009, I went to the Masonic Temple located at 1000 U St. Northwest, Washington D.C. but it was closed. This did not faze me because I’ve been inside several times for annual scholarship ceremonies and breakfasts and found nothing that was worthy of note anyway. Other than the pictures hung up of current and past grandmasters there was no way you could tell you were in a Masonic temple- it looked like the inside of any other regular building.
As I was leaving I was drawn to a corner stone placed alongside the building, which displayed the year in which the Masonic Temple was built. An illustrated, well-known symbol of the Prince Hall Masons composed its center; above it, contained an image of a group of Prince Hall Masons. Since the engraving was difficult to read, with my father’s directions, I went to the temple of Most Wishful King Soloman, located on 2245 Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast Washington D.C. to get a better look. The symbol, which features the letter “G” in the center, represents God and Geometry for all mankind; a compass and square, which represents the rules and guides for life, surrounds the “G.” Its design paired with its covert meaning made the symbol all the more unique and appealing.
Intrigued by the emergence of black freemasons in northern cities, discussed in the book: The African-American Odyssey, Vol. One: to 1877, by Darlene Clark Hine, William C. Hine, and Stanley Harrold, I was propelled to interview my father- a 4 year mason invited to join in masonry by the present worshipful master and past grandmaster. I questioned him about the current purposes, practices, and accomplishments of Prince Hall Masons. Considered to be the oldest black fraternity, the Prince Hall Mason’s primary goal is to “take good men and make them better men” (as stated in their motto). They are community-oriented, usually doing charity work, adopting schools, and giving scholarships.
To become a mason, one must first be recommended and eventually initiated. Because of the secretive nature of Masonic practices and rituals, most topics were briefly discussed during the interview. Nevertheless, I learned that the Prince Hall Masons are separated by lodges, degrees, and house colors. The number of the lodge distinguishes each group of Prince Hall Masons from one another; the degree depicts the level of each mason; and the various house colors study different Masonic information. The Worshipful Grandmaster is the highest authority over the Grand Lodge and every lodge and chapter there under. The Masonic attire, described in the book as “fancy regalia,” continues to compose the Masonic dress of and unify the lodges of Prince Hall Masons. The fact that these men are continuing the traditions of past Prince Hall Masons shows the common element of past and current Prince Hall Masons.
It amazes me that an organization that began centuries ago still exists, with many aspects still intact. Future historians should know that African Americans Masons were ready to help each other regardless of the situation, with a cheerful heart and a giving spirit. Such organizations give people the opportunity to interact with people beyond their family. Providing structure, offering a greater sense of purpose, teaching history, and encouraging one to become a more critical thinker, there is no doubt that Prince Hall Masonry should be continued by future generations of all mankind.
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
After studying parts of African American life in the days of slavery from early 1600s to mid 1950s it is nice to know that today’s African Americans do not have to live in the circumstances that they once did. There is so much that I could say about African American life today, about how it has changed that I do not know where to begin.
Today, June 13, 2009 African Americans are able to ride in all different kinds of transportation at any time. They are able to walk the streets; they do not have curfews unless they are children with curfews set by the parents. African Americans are also able to own anything that they can afford. In today’s economy, many people are losing jobs because we are currently going through a recession. Notice, I did not say people are losing jobs because of their complexion.
Another thing is schools. I graduated from Northwest High School two years ago. Students, teachers and staff of all races are welcomed. African American’s today truly have equal opportunity for education. For example, I currently attend Montgomery College. Everyone no matter what race is welcome to enroll and get an education from MC. Walking the halls of Montgomery College proves exactly this! People of all different races or nationalities can be seen. Another thing that has changed for African Americans is the right to vote. All American’s have the right to vote at 18 as well as the right to jury duty; whether the person is black, white, Spanish, male, female, or etc..
This particular year was a special year for American citizens, especially those of African descent. Many African Americans today own many businesses. For example, ice cream shops, restaurants, daycares, five star hotels, doctors offices, and much more. Today’s African American women are also owners of many of these businesses. For example, clothing stores, salons’, spa’s, many are even lawyers, therapists and so on. Some examples I know of are, Rita’s in Gaithersburg and the Starbucks in Gaithersburg.
However none of this is as exciting as the news I am about to tell you. This year, the first black man, Barrack Obama, was elected president of the United States. Barack Obama graduated from Columbia University & Harvard Law School. Before earning his degree, he worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the university of Chicago law school (1992-2004). Obama served three terms in Illinois senate from 1997 to 2004. He was elected to the US senate in November 2004. He began his run for US presidency in 2007. He was inaugurated as president January 20, 2009.
I did not get a chance to go to the inauguration because I covered a work shift for my manager so he was able to attend the inauguration. I remember working on the day of the election, it was amazing to see how important this day, or point in time really is. The newspapers were being sold and laminated. I remember having one older woman come in both days with big thick frames. They looked like the ones you could put a piece of clothing in. The women stood right by the counter after she bought the paper and framed it.
On inauguration day the store was empty, everyone was at the inauguration! When people started getting home, they would come into the store with this surge of excitement. People were cheering and shouting in the parking lot with decorated cars and their newspapers, with cups of coffee. It was a very exciting and life changing event, I am proud just to be living in the same time era that this has happened.
As you can see, African American life today has significantly changed from the 1600s to now, 2009. African Americans today are able to lead a nation or their very own business. They are able to own anything that money can buy them with some exceptions. For example, certain ages are not able to purchase tobacco products or alcoholic beverages. African Americans today are allowed to be out whenever they please and visit whomever they want. They are able to ride in any form of public transportation and they do not have to be segregated to any certain area, at any time. African Americans today can live freely and equally among all other races.
The reason I chose these pictures was to show that in 2009 things have changed significantly. These pictures illustrate that African Americans no longer have limits. These pictures also illustrate the ongoing changes of African American life.
The first picture illustrates the education that African Americans as well as any else is able to acquire. The second picture shows two things. First, it shows that black and whites are now truly equal. They are able to stand together on the same stage, for the same purpose. And second, it shows the abilities of one African American, backed by both black and white people. This picture makes me feel determined to be the best that I can be because if one man can overcome something that took about two centuries to do, then imagine what the rest of us could do if we just worked for it.
My last two pictures are significant because they show a strong leader of a nation, and the proud father husband!
Before Barrack Obama, there were only white male presidents. This is a very important piece of future history that will play a huge part in telling the story of African American life.
HS120, Summer 1 2009
I visited Ben’s Chili Bowl on the evening of June 12, 2009. The restaurant is an institution on DC’s U Street corridor, one of the city’s centers of African-American culture. Although I have lived in the Washington area my whole life, I had never before set foot in this landmark, so I decided to check it out. Given my background in business, I also thought it would be interesting to learn more about this remarkably successful African-American family-owned business.
Ben’s was founded in the Summer of 1958 by Ben and Virginia Ali, a newly married couple. Ben was a Trinidadian Muslim immigrant and Virginia was an African-American from Virginia. Interracial marriage was illegal at the time, and they had attempted to marry several times before finally being able to do so. Shortly following their marriage, they used a $5,000 loan to renovate the former Minnehaha Theater building at 1213 U Street, in the heart of the city’s black Shaw neighborhood. Incidentally, the Minnehaha was one of the first silent movie theaters in DC to cater to black audiences. Ben’s opened in August of that year, serving simple comfort food, including its now-famous chili and half-smokes.
During the 1950s, U Street was the center of African-American life and culture in the nation’s capital. Known as the “Black Broadway,” U Street was home to black artists and musicians, and its jazz clubs were frequented by Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Cab Calloway. But it was more than just an entertainment district -- U Street was home to black professionals, businesses, restaurants, and shops. Ben’s quickly established itself as the meeting place for the neighborhood locals, and also was a popular eatery and hang out spot for jazz legends, black celebrities, and leaders in the civil rights movement, including Stokely Carmichael and Martin Luther King, Jr.
On April 4, 1968, when Ben’s was just a decade old, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis. The aftermath of this horrific event escalated into violence and rioting in African-American neighborhoods in several U.S. cities, including U Street in Washington, DC. Entire blocks of U Street were destroyed by looting and fire, buildings were reduced to smoldering rubble, and business came to a halt. All except Ben’s (or “The Bowl” as it had become known), which remained open, thanks to a permit obtained by Stokely Carmichael, the head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which was headquartered across the street from Ben’s. The permit allowed Ben’s to remain open to provide sustenance to activists, law enforcement officials, firefighters and first responders. It took the neighborhood more than a decade to recover, and the neighborhood declined into a period of rampant street crime and drug peddling.
During the 1980s, the community seemed to be on the verge of renewal. A new community center was built, businesses were on the rise, and Bill Cosby (who had once courted his future wife during dates at Ben’s) visited The Bowl and drew national attention to the landmark. In 1987, another challenge to Ben’s survival came during construction of Metro’s Green Line and the U Street station, which was built directly across the street from Ben’s. Although the construction caused other businesses to close, disrupted traffic, and essentially turned the street into a giant construction pit, Ben’s stayed open with two employees working to satisfy hungry construction workers, and of course, the regulars.
Today, Ben’s is nationally renowned for its home-cooked flavor and its original décor, which is basically unchanged since it first opened. Ben and Virginia, who have since retired, probably never would have imagined that their little chili dog restaurant would have garnered so much national and even international attention. The country’s first black president paid homage to the eatery just 10 days after his inauguration when he visited with the city’s African-American Mayor, Adrian Fenty. Although Ben’s is still considered an institution of “black” Washington, people of all races can be found eating there today, as is visible in the photograph.
In conclusion, it is virtually impossible to recount the history of Washington, DC’s African-American residents without discussing Ben’s Chili Bowl – both are inextricably linked. What began as a “mom and pop” kind of hot dog stand became an important community gathering place for black professionals, entertainers, and civic leaders. It survived the 1968 riots, the decline of U Street into drugs and violence in the 1970s, the construction of the Green Line metro in the late 1980s, and various economic challenges. Ben’s truly has stood the test of time, and will continue to provide a gathering place for blacks – and others – for generations to come.
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
The historic site that I visited was the Beall-Dawson House. The picture attached is of the Beall-Dawson mansion which was built in 1815 in Rockville, Maryland. As I learned upon my visit, this was the first mansion built in Montgomery County, Maryland. I visited the Beall-Dawson House on June 6th 2009.
For many years I have driven past this house but I never thought that it had this type of history in its past. When I looked up historic sites to visit in Montgomery County and I saw that this location on the list, I became very interested in visiting it and uncovering its past. Knowing that so much history about this country happened so close to where I live really sparked my interest, thus, I went to visit this site. What I found the most fascinating about the Beall-Dawson House was that it allowed me to experience the different lifestyles that slaves, white servants, and slave owners gave me a great appreciation of the hierarchy of the time period.
The Beall-Dawson House depicts a transformation of Montgomery County, Maryland both time-wise and through the expansion of the area. Montgomery County historian and author Maureen Altobello, describes the change as “a time when the affluence of the colonial era met with the resolve of the new federal era; when the rural, agricultural society of Montgomery County began to see the growth of newer and larger settlements” (Altobello, M., 2000). As I toured the house, the tour-guides were very helpful in highlighting the differences between the quality of living amongst the Beall family, white servants and slaves.
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
As a visiting summer school student I am taking classes for Montgomery College online while I am living in North Carolina where my home school is, North Carolina Central University. After talking to one of my mass communication teachers, Mr. Chambers, earlier in the week he told me about the Stagville and, said it would be good place to do the assignment. I live Durham, NC and had no idea that I lived in an area that was once home to one of the south’s largest plantations. Now called Historic Stagville Plantation, it was once a thriving tobacco plantation housing at its peak in 1860 an estimated 900 slaves and comprised of 30,000 acres.
When I visited the site on Thursday, June 4, there were numerous locations that could be photographed that captured the lives of pre civil war African Americans in North Carolina. The first picture is of the Bennehan house, master’s house, which was built in 1787 and a second story addition was added in 1799. The next picture of is of the oak dresser that still sits in the Bennehan’s master bedroom which was crafted by a free African American. Finally I chose a picture of one of the slave’s cabins called Horton Grove, which was particularly different and rare compared to most slave quarters.
The first picture is that of the Bennehan house. This was the house of Richard Bennehan, his wife Mary, and daughter Rebecca lived. In 1787 Richard Bennehan bought 66 acres of land from Judith Stagg, hence that reason the area is called Stagville after the last name of Judith Stage. In 1787 the original one and a half house was built. In the picture that is the one level side on the left of the house. The second story and right side of the house was added 12 years later in 1799. One my tour of the plantation I was told that The Bennehan house, as well as other plantation houses in North Carolina, were considerable smaller than other plantation houses in the south. Still, the house was quite large. One room in the house is about the size the typical farm house.
In the picture of the house on just the back side you can count 8 windows. The windows might seem insignificant but, each one of those windows had to be made and sipped from England to North Carolina. The location of Stagville it is over almost one hundred miles from the coast and there are no major railroads or rivers that could get the windows to the house more easily so, they had to be shipped by land. Having so many glass windows at this time showed the wealth of this family. Along with the glass windows in the house, every nail also had to be shipped from England.
Also the location of the house sits on top of a hill. Before the trees and brush grew up about 70 years ago it was a looking directly down on the slave cabins. For the slaves looking up to the large white house on top of a hill showed the dominance and power the master had over the slaves. I chose this picture because though slaves did not occupy the house, it was still a symbol of their enslavement. I thought it was significant the positioning of the house. The way the house looked down on the slaves, how the slaves looked up to the house, and house the house was so far away from the slave quarters showing the separation of the two was interesting. The next picture is of a dresser that was in the master bedroom of the Bennehan house. The reason the dresser was so important to me because I offered another look into the lives of pre-civil war African Americans. Unlike most African Americans of this area and time period that man who created this dresser was a free African American. Unfortunately the tour guide could not recall the man’s names he was able to tell us about his life. This man was born free and lived in the area. The Bennehan’s as well as other wealthy land owners in the area sought out his work. The dresser was made in approximately 1810 and, has stayed in the room since then. It is also known that he was a slave owner himself. It is reported that he owned five or six slaves in his lifetime. The top of the dresser top is made of solid marble. The entire dresser was crafted by hand. Being that it was entirely made by hand and the fine quality of the materials used to construct the dresser, it was an expensive piece of furniture for its time.
The reason I chose this picture was because it showed a life and history about African Americans that is not told. The man who created this beautiful piece of work was a free black man whose mother was free likewise. I chose this picture because I wanted to show to the contrary of what white Americans at this time thought about African Americans. They thought that they were inferior to the white race and this piece of furniture shows otherwise. It shows that blacks were talented and capable of the same things as their white counterparts. The Bennehan’s were extremely wealthy and could afford a piece made by anyone and, they chose that of an African American.This is a picture of the slave quarters called Horton House. This is one of four houses in this area that are similar in structure. For this time period most slave houses where one room shacks with one door and no place for proper ventilation. When this house is now there once stood a one room slave house similar to other slave quarters but, due to an alarming high death, illness, and disease rate these new slave quarters were built in the 1850’s. Each of the four houses housed up 40 slaves at a time. There are four rooms in the house and, each room housed one family. If you look at the base of the house you can see it is elevated because it helped keep the ground from flooding and, by the ground being raised disease carrying insects were less likely to reside in houses with elevated floors.Also the walls are brick unlike most slave houses that had wood planks for walls. The bricks were used for installation purposes and less the likelihood of infestation of rodents. If you look at the fire place, which was bricked by slaves, there are indentations of the slaves fingerprints in the bricks. Also, the material used to hold the bricks together is similar to the materials used in Africa by Africans who constructed their houses.
I chose this picture because again it shows the massive size and wealth of this plantation. On the large 30,000 acre plantation these four houses only housed 180 of the slave population. Throughout the plantation there were other massive compounds if you would call it of slaves. To me it spoke of the extreme power the Bennehan’s had in this area that I now call home.
After visiting Stagville I found it quiet interesting that this major historical site was 20 minutes away from where I lived and I had no idea it even existed. This assignment was an eye opening experience. I might sound corny but , I swear I could feel the souls of the slaves on the land. Two hundred years ago for all I know some of my ancestors could have been slaves on this very plantation. The three pictures that I felt spoke to me most hopefully will inspire someone to look into their past.
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
The Beall Dawson house located in Rockville, Maryland is a “restored 1815 Federal style home furnished in period.” (Historical Marker Database). As seen in the picture, it is a two and a half story home that exhibits the life of Upton Beall, his wife, three daughters, and their slaves. In the museum today, “the daily life and culture of the Bealls and their slaves are presented along with displays related to the War of 1812, architecture, the early history of Montgomery County, tobacco farming and medicine.” (Planetware Travel Guide).
Upton Beall built the house in 1815 (Montgomery Historical Society). Today it is located at 103 West Montgomery Avenue in Rockville, Maryland, which is where these pictures were taken. Two of the pictures show the restored Beall Dawson house that was built in 1815 and the other picture talks about the slavery in Rockville before emancipation was issued in Maryland on November 1, 1864 (Historic Rockville African American Heritage Walking Tour). I took these pictures of May 28, 2009 for the purpose of learning more about slave life in Maryland and also for this project.
"Beall-Dawson House, Rockville." PlanetWare Travel Guide - Hotels, Attractions, Pictures, Maps & More. 28 May 2009.
Fuchs, Tom. "Beall-Dawson House and Park Marker." The Historical Marker Database. Ed. J. J. Prats. 5 Apr. 2006. 28 May 2009.
"HAUNTED MARYLAND." Haunted Traveler Home Page. 28 May 2009. http://www.hauntedtraveler.com/haunted_maryland.htm.
"Historic Rockville African American Heritage Walking Tour." Rockville, Maryland - Official Web Site. 28 May 2009.
"Josiah Henson: Biography from Answers.com." Answers.com - Online Dictionary, Encyclopedia and much more. 16 June 2009.
Paranormal Everything - paranormall.org. 16 June 2009
"Rockville Campus, Beall-Dawson Historic Park." Montgomery Historical Society. 28 May 2009.
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
During the inauguration earlier this year of the first African-American President of the United States, the media spoke of the irony of the President being sworn in on the very stone that slave laborers had placed nearly 200 years before. When considering African-American historical sites in and around the Washington area to research for this assignment, the U.S. Capitol interested me because historically, not much attention has been paid to the fact that the building was constructed in part by slaves. This is likely due to the fact that because such few relevant historical sources survive, relatively little is known about their involvement.
The U.S. Capitol is perhaps one of the most recognizable symbols of American democracy, and the center of the dome marks the very center of the nation’s capital. The many visitors that come to admire the Capitol’s rotunda, beautiful grounds, art, and history are largely unaware of the people who helped build the seat of our government back in the early 19th century.
Cultural Tourism DC. http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/info-url3948/info-url_show.htm?doc_id=213719&attrib_id=7965
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
On May 27, 2009, I visited the Riley House located at 11420 Old Georgetown Road in Rockville, MD. More commonly, this house is known as Uncle Tom’s Cabin from the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin written by Harriet Beecher Stowe. I found this house by searching Google for: “African-American Historic Sites in Montgomery County Maryland.” Google lists a map of many historic sites in Montgomery County.
In the late 18th century and early 19th century, Josiah Henson lived in the Riley House. Josiah Henson was a slave whose master was named Isaac Riley. A narrative describing Josiah Henson’s life and living conditions is available online at http://www.archive.org/stream/cihm_01238/cihm_01238_djvu.txt.
On page twenty-three Josiah describes his living quarters, “We lodged in log huts, and on the bare ground…In a single room were huddled, like cattle, ten or a dozen persons…We had neither bedsteads, nor furniture of any description.” The cabin was occupied by Josiah Henson from 1795 until 1825. After living in the cabin as a slave for about thirty years, Josiah Henson escaped and managed to make his way to Canada where he was safe from harsh laws against fugitive slaves (Maryland Historical Trust).
These pictures depict a very small cabin attached to a larger and much more modern house. It’s not clear whether or not an old house was attached to the cabin or not. The cabin seems to be a pretty nice cabin for a slave. According to the Washington Post, after Josiah and his master moved out of the house, the cabin has since been privately owned until 2005. During this time period the inside of the house had been renovated, and the former slave cabin was used as a study and temporary bedroom by the family living in it. Many slave quarters were not attached to the owner’s house. More importantly, these pictures depict that slavery was prevalent during the 19th century in Montgomery County.I was interested in visiting this site because it is very well-known throughout the country because Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a novel based on the autobiography of Josiah Henson (Maryland Historical Trust). Future generations should realize the importance of the Riley House. This house is a great part of American literature of the 19th century. The novel written that takes place at the Riley House was the second most purchased book in the United States. The only book to sell more copies was the Bible (Book Rags). Future generations should also realize that African-Americans lived as slaves here in Rockville. It’s hard to believe that we have come so far in civil rights since then. The fact that according to the Washington Post, Montgomery County spent one million dollars to purchase the Riley House proves that Maryland is very interested in preserving African-American history.
The future of the Riley House seems to be bright. It is currently owned by the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission. The MNCPPC is renovating the Riley House and will not allow visitors on the grounds. By 2012 the MNCPPC states that the house will be open to the public, and until then “there will be limited seasonal openings of the site.” Although I volunteer for the MNCPPC, I was not allowed to get up close to take clear pictures due to safety concerns. Volunteering with this organization provides opportunities that others cannot get. I have had access to numerous training opportunities and helped to keep the sites that they own safe. Not only does the MNCPPC own the Riley House, but there are many other historical sites they own that are available at http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/historic/education/siteslist.shtm .
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&t=p&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=100339795778997243718.00046464a13be8bc4de17 -This website has a list of local historical sites and is where I found the Riley House.
Fisher, Marc. "Unique Montgomery County Property for Sale: Uncle Tom's Cabin." Washington Post 13 Dec. 2005. The Washington Poast. 13 Dec. 2005. 16 June 2009 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/12/AR2005121201387.html.
"Josiah Henson Site (Uncle Tom's Cabin)." Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. 28 May 2009 http://www.mc-mncppc.org/parks/PPSD/Cultural_Resources_Stewardship/heritage/uncle_toms_cabin.shtm.
McGuckian, Eileen. "Uncle Tom's Cabin (Historic Site Survey)." MARYLAND HISTORICAL TRUST. Dec. 1978. 27 May 2009 http://www.mdihp.net/cfm/dsp_display.cfm.
"Uncle Tom's Cabin Study Guide." Book Rags. 27 May 2009 http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-uncletomscabin/intro.html.
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
It was 3rd of June when I visited this archaeological site called Northampton slave quarter located in Prince Georges County, Maryland. I found the Northampton slave quarter from the official site of the Maryland Office of Tourism. The address and phone number were shown on the web and I called ahead the office of the site to ask direction and to let them know that I was coming. It was located on Lake Overlook Drive between Water Port Court and Lake Overlook Place in Lake Arbor, Maryland.
The place used to be slave quarter for Northampton plantation and according to the information board for the park, the place first belonged to Thomas Sprigg from 1673 then it was sold to Dr. John Contee Fairfax in 1865. The house was taken care of by the family of Thomas Sprigg and servants for almost 200 years.
The reason why I chose this site for the assignment was because it always has been fascinating for me to visit historical sites. Visiting there where you can tell that something actually happened on the exact spot where you stand gave me the feeling that I can be the part of history.
The site is located in the middle of town houses. Coming out from I-495 to small streets, I passed many single houses and town houses. The park was surrounded by these houses; it looked like people who live in the neighborhood can actually walk from their backyard to the park.