Archive for the ‘People’ category

Historic Neighborhood Groups — Arkansas Avenue Citizens’ Association

February 4, 2015

Keeping the series on historic neighborhood civic groups from the 1940s going, today’s article from the Washington Post focuses on the Arkansas Avenue group in NW. The original article was published on October 2, 1940.

Arkansas Avenue Citizens Assoc map

Arkansas Avenue Citizens Assoc article

African-American Civil War Museum Kicks Off Black History Month

February 3, 2015

The African-American Civil War Museum and the DC Black History Celebration Committee kicked off Black History Month last night with a program in the museum that began around 6 p.m. The event began with a welcome by Chuck Hicks, Director of the DC Black History Celebration Committee followed by a prayer. Following the prayer, Judy Williams led the audience in singing Lift Every Voice and Sing.

AACWM Black History Month kick off(Judy Williams singing with Chuck Hicks looking on.)

The musical selection was followed by a dance presentation by CityDance — which was extremely interesting and enjoyable. The CityDance performers were definitely polished and energetic.

AACWM Black History Month kick off 2(CityDance during their performance.)

After the CityDance performance, a series of remarks were made by Phil Mendelson, Chairman of the D.C. Council; Karl Racine, DC Attorney General; Brianne Nadeau, Ward 1 Councilmember; and Charles Allen, Ward 6 Councilmember.

Dr. Daryl Michael Scott delivering his key note address.

Dr. Daryl Michael Scott delivering his key note address.

Following the remarks, keynote speaker Dr. Daryl Michael Scott, president of Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) was introduced. Dr. Scott delivered an inspiring speech delving into the life of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, some of the misconceptions of Woodson, and Woodson’s legacy in the founding of Black History Month. 2015 is also the 100th anniversary of the founding of ASALH, leading Dr. Scott to delve into Woodson the reformer as a central theme to his presentation.

Dr. Scott’s speech was followed by another musical selection including the audience singing We Shall Overcome,
closing remarks, and a reception.

Historic Neighborhood Groups — Anacostia Citizens’ Association

January 30, 2015

Keeping the series on historic neighborhood civic groups from the 1940s going, today’s article from the Washington Post focuses on Anacostia. The original article was published on October 1, 1940.

Anacostia Citizens Association map

Anacostia Citizens article

Historic Neighborhood Groups — American University Park

January 29, 2015

Following up on yesterday’s post on the Columbia Heights Citizens’ Association as it was in 1940, is this window on the American University Park Citizens’ Association. The map and article below were originally published in the Washington Post on September 30, 1940.

American University Park associationAmerican University Park article

Looking at Historic Neighborhoods — Columbia Heights

January 28, 2015

From September to December of 1940, the Washington Post published a series of articles focusing on the Citizens’ and Civic associations of Washington. A review of the articles are interesting for a number of reasons, not the least being that most include maps showing the areas served by the associations which help illustrate neighborhood boundaries. Yet, even with this one needs to keep in mind that some areas were served by more than one association and that there are areas of neighborhood overlap.

As neighborhood boundaries are something that many Washingtonians find interesting, beginning with today’s post on Columbia Heights the series will be reprinted.

Columbia Heights Citizens Association boundaries

The map above and article below were originally published in the Washington Post on October 14, 1940. You’ll noticed that the map goes as far north as Shepherd Street and includes areas today considered part of Pleasant Plains, Park View, and Petworth.

Columbia Heights article


Remembering June Norton: Sang with Duke Ellington, Broke TV Race Barrier

January 23, 2015

June Norton 1950(A photo of June Norton from the Afro-American, 1950)

Several years ago, then Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Lisa Kralovic (ANC 1A01) told me about a former resident of 1435 Perry Place, NW, named June Norton. Kralovic told me that Norton had performed with Duke Ellington and that she was highly regarded in the neighborhood. She also stated that she had moved to Maryland a few years earlier but had since passed. I was intrigued, and what follows is what I’ve been able to learn about her life thus far.

June Norton (1924-2004) was a singer with Duke Ellington and his orchestra, working with Ellington in 1949, 1950, and 1960. Norton was born in Alexandria, Va., and graduated from Cardozo High School and Howard University. Though better known for singing with Ellington, her most notable achievement was singing as part of a one-minute commercial for station WTTG-TV.

Norton was hired to sing commercials on television for a product aimed at such states a Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. She was singing at the Flame restaurant in Washington in the fall of 1961 when representatives from a local advertising agency heard her. The representatives had been looking for a black artist to break the television race barrier, especially in Washington which had a population that was estimated at more than 50% African American at that time. The commercial’s sponsors – the Beautycraft Plastics Company – reported that June Norton was the first African American woman in the mid-Atlantic region to appear on TV commercials beamed at the mass market in Southern states.

In recognition of Norton’s work in the commercial, she received the 1962 Achievement Award from the National Association of Colored Women and drew acclaim from the YMCA which presented her with their trophy as “Singer of the Year for 1962.” A local bottling company named her “TV Personality of the Year” and the National Association of Market Development bestowed upon her their 1962 Emphasis Award.

Norton’s voice was described as having the range and flexibility to put across the up-tune as well as the ballad. During the 1960s audiences could hear her perform at venues such as the Shoreham’s Marquee Lounge (1964), Twelve Devils, near the corner of Connecticut and Calvert streets, NW (1965), and Mr. Henry’s Georgetown (1968).

In the early 1970s, Norton engaged in work as a counselor for women offenders imprisoned for drug related and other crimes. This work was featured in an episode called Ebony Reflections that aired on WETA-26 in 1973. In 1993, June Norton, along with other former Duke Ellington vocalists Adelaide Hall, Joya Sherrill, Kay Davis, Maria Ellington Cole, and Dolores Parker, received a lifetime achievement award from the Smithsonian Institution.

June Norton passed away on October 30, 2004, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery next to her husband, Thomas C. Cuff.

Best Bird Houses in Columbia Heights (1921)

January 22, 2015

Wilson Normal bird houses

In revisiting the photo collections at the Library of Congress, I found the gem above. The photograph was taken on the afternoon of January 20, 1921, and shows a member from the American Forestry Association with children who were awarded blue ribbons for building  bird houses. The photo captures the event located on the western side of the Wilson Normal School. Today, the school is known as the Carlos Rosario public charter school and the location where the children are standing is part of the parking lot.

The construction of bird houses by the students was part of the week-long tree work exhibition at the Wilson Normal School which opened on Monday, January 17th, and ended on Friday, January 21st. While the exhibition had a large educational focus, the general public were encouraged to participate. In additional to the birdhouses and other pupil activities, the event included exhibits of trees, their diseases, insect destroyers, furniture of all kinds and essays on tree values.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the American Forestry Association was engaged in a nationwide referendum to determine what tree best represented America. Selecting the right tree was difficult. President Wilson weighed in during the survey stating that he was “quite unable to choose amongst the infinite variety and richness of American forests.”

The overwhelming result of the referendum among Washington school children was that the national tree should be the oak. D.C. children cast 7,004 votes for the oak – nearly twice as many as cast for the nearest competitor, the elm.

The entire vote breakdown in D.C. from school children in the 1921 American Forestry Association referendum follows:

  • Oak, 7,004;
  • Elm, 3,765;
  • Pine, 1,355;
  • Sugar maple, 1,392;
  • Apple, 1,145;
  • Hickory, 1,060;
  • Dogwood, 619;
  • Tulip, 328;
  • Walnut, 273;
  • Sycamore, 108; and,
  • Various others, 36.

Currently, the national tree of the United States is the Oak, which was chosen in 2004.

National Tree ballot


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