Posted tagged ‘notable residents’

Book Chronicling Life of Gene Allen, White House Butler, Released Today

July 30, 2013
Wil Haygood's book, "The Butler, a Witness to History," is available today.

Wil Haygood’s book, “The Butler, a Witness to History,” is available today.

Today, Wil Haygood’s book, The Butler, a Witness to History, will be released in area bookstores. It chronicles the life of Eugene Allen, the butler who served 8 presidents while working at the White House. Haygood’s Washington Post 2008 article about Allen was also the basis for the movie schedule to be released on August 16th.

If you want a copy of the book and would like to meet the author, Haygood will be at Politics and Prose tonight at 7 p.m.

The following excerpt from the Barnes & Noble Web site sums up the book well:

…. While serving tea and supervising buffets, Allen was also a witness to history as decisions about America’s most momentous events were being made. Here he is at the White House while Kennedy contemplates the Cuban missile crisis; here he is again when Kennedy’s widow returns from that fateful day in Dallas. Here he is when Johnson and his cabinet debate Vietnam, and here he is again when Ronald Reagan is finally forced to get tough on apartheid. Perhaps hitting closest to home was the civil rights legislation that was developed, often with passions flaring, right in front of his eyes even as his own community of neighbors, friends, and family were contending with Jim Crow America. …

Gene Allen passed away in 2010. His Washington residence is located at 710 Otis Place, NW.

Posters for Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” Displayed in the Neighborhood

July 24, 2013
Poster for the movie, "The Butler", at the Georgia Avenue Metro Station.

Poster for the movie, “The Butler”, at the Georgia Avenue Metro Station.

I noticed yesterday that a poster for the forthcoming movie, The Butler, was among the advertisements at the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro Station. The movie is based on the story written in 2008 by the Washington Post’s Wil Haygood about White House butler Gene Allen, who lived in Park View at 710 Otis Place from 1947 until his death in 2010.

Lately, the film has attracted some attention due to a dispute in its title, which was recently resolved by the inclusion of “Lee Daniels'” at the beginning.

The film is schedule to be released on August 16th. Below is a trailer for the film, which I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing.

George Walker: Prominent Composer & Washingtonian Grew Up on Sherman Avenue

December 24, 2012
(ASSOCIATED PRESS) - A 1996 photograph of George Walker

(ASSOCIATED PRESS) – A 1996 photograph of George Walker

I truly hope folks read the article in Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine about composer George Walker. If not, Parlor piano inspired career is available online and you can catch up on your reading. I’m highlighting this not only because I find Walker’s life and accomplishments inspirational, but because he grew up in our community.

His childhood home is located at 3222 Sherman Avenue, NW. Walker was born in 1922 and according to the Post article, considered this his home until his farther died in 1954.

His father emigrated to the United States, where he became a physician after graduating from Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia.  George Walker’s mother, Rosa King, supervised her son’s first piano lessons that began when he was five years of age. His first teacher was Miss Mary L. Henry. Mrs. Lillian Mitchell Allen, who had earned a doctorate in music education, became his second piano teacher. There is a good overview of his career here.

George Walker grew up at 3222 Sherman Avenue, NW.

George Walker grew up at 3222 Sherman Avenue, NW.

In 1997, mayor Marion Barry proclaimed June 14 George Walker Day in the District of Columbia. The citation that accompanied that proclamation summed up Walker’s accomplishments as follows:

“A native Washingtonian and a product of D.C. public schools, . . . he was the first black graduate of the Curtis Institute, the first black to earn a doctorate degree from the Eastman School of Music, the first black pianist to play with the Philadelphia Orchestra and to obtain major management under the aegis of National Concert Artists and Columbia Artists Management; and in 1996, was the first black recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in Music.”

Walker is certainly someone all Washingtonians should be familiar with and proud of.


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