Carter G. Woodson – Chapter 2: How We Missed the Mark

This is a series regarding Shaw resident Carter G. Woodson’s book The Mis-Education of the Negro.

In this chapter Woodson looks at the history of education for African Americans after the Civil War. I just finished an audiobook that threw general criticism of Southern education, and Woodson does here too a bit. “The participation of the freedmen in government for a few years during the period known as the Reconstruction had little bearing on their situation except that they did join with the uneducated poor whites in bringing about certain much-desired social reforms, especially in giving the South its first plan of democratic education in providing for a school system at public expense.

In this chapter, the way I’m reading it, Woodson is not happy with the practicality of AfAm education, in addition to the quality.

Others more narrow-minded than the advocates of industrial education, seized upon the idea, feeling that, although the Negro must have some semblance of education, it would be a fine stroke to be able to make a distinction between the training given the Negro and that provided for the whites. Inasmuch as the industrial educational idea rapidly gained ground, too, many Negroes for political purposes began to espouse it; and schools and colleges hoping thereby to obtain money worked out accordingly makeshift provisions for such instruction, although they could not satisfactorily offer it. A few real industrial schools actually equipped themselves for this work and turned out a number of graduates with such preparation. Continue reading Carter G. Woodson – Chapter 2: How We Missed the Mark

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- Corinthian Baptist Church

Landowner list of Sq 551Last one in this particular series looking at the above segment of the General Assessment 1933-1934. I was not going to look at Ms. Julia W. McGuire, as she is in a trustee position. My dad is a trustee at his church (why. lord. why) and so his name shows up on the tax database for his county for his church’s parking lots. But another quick look at the Recorder of Deeds database showed that she transferred ownership to Corinthian Baptist Church July 23, 1931. I guess I’m looking up Ms. McGuire.

Mrs. Julia Wise (Grayson?) McGuire (1862- 1952), lived at 531 T St NW was the widow of Robert L. McGuire, and was an African American woman. That’s as much research as I want to do. I’ll write a bit about Corinthian Baptist Church. It was part of the 1957 Church Survey, so I have that link here.

Corinthian Baptist was at 3rd and Q before they moved to the unit block of Q. Corinthian Baptist at some point gave way to Ebeneezer Baptist. They sold their property to Mt. Sinai Baptist in July 23, 1948. The database says 7/20/1948 but that is definitely a 3 not a 0. Seems like July 23rd is a special date.

As you can see with your own eyes, the lots owned by the church managed to survive the urban renewal which created the Northwest Cooperative and Florida Avenue Park.

 

One Small Covid positive- Inauguration

Back in 2009 for President Barak Obama’s inauguration security and signage creeped past the southern boundaries of Mt. Vernon Square into Shaw and up to Florida Avenue.Reflective National Guard

I was very annoyed at the sight of National Guardsmen roaming New Jersey Avenue NW in Shaw. I was full of complaints that week. I understood why, with Obama being the first Black president and huge crowds, but I did not understand why Shaw got caught up in the mess.

Well fast forward to 2021 and Obama’s VP is going to be president. The security Downtown is cranked up to 11. Thankfully, that circus of crazy is south of us. And one positive of covid (besides to go booze and 5 star restaurant delivery) is that the Convention Center is unavailable for inauguration events, so there is no excuse for the National Guard to come up the street.

NSS2016 Neighborhood LockdownI was also pissy about a 2016 Nuclear Summit held at the Convention Center, which locked down the neighborhood around the center. There are still some remnants of the security from that event on manhole covers and grates to show that no one tampered with them.

You would think after that, someone would know that residential areas and super security don’t mix. People lost access to their street parking. And you know how people around here love their ability to park in front of/ near their houses (even if they have a perfectly fine parking pad in the rear of their house, another complaint for another day).

Hopefully, come Thursday morning, this is all over and we can get back to normal, 2021 normal that is.

An Observation – Drug deal

It has been a while since I have observed a drug deal on my street. This is mainly because I have been worn ragged by a pre-schooler with limitless energy and given a chance, I will take a nap. Sleep is awesome, but I digress.

I was going to take a nap, but I still had to deal with laundry so I opened up the blinds. I observed a young man moving by my spouse’s car, so I watched him. He was going over to a maroon hoopdie with a sun worn hood. He entered the car. Sat down and after a few seconds, maybe one minute, the hoopdie’s driver handed him a plain paper bag.

Remember, I’m high up enough to see down into the car. This makes me think that security cameras high up have a certain advantage…. depending on what you’re looking for.

I should also mention, I was once on a federal grand jury. I learned a lot about drugs and drug dealing. Cars are one place of exchange.

After the young man got the bag, he exited the car and crossed the street to another car. I was able to look straight down into the car. I decided if it was a weapon, I would call 9-1-1. Too many children have been shot by idiots with guns who shouldn’t have guns. But the way he handled the bag made it appear that the contents were too light to be a gun. It was a package of something. If my binoculars weren’t in storage, I would be more sure. But if I had to take a guess, it was fake weed, like Scooby-snax.

Then someone covered up with a hat and a blue mask came up to chat with the driver. Hat and mask guy could have been a local, but I could not tell as he was well covered. He left and then the young man walked off somewhere.

The  the driver sat there in their normal blue car for a while and I got bored looking at him and laid down for a nap. Later, I got up and he was gone.

Something made me look out the window again, and I noticed the blue car with the young man and the driver. The car could not find a parking space, so it was double parked. Then the driver decided to park illegally. The young man who had been in the car before got out and went to his own blue car. When they both drove off, I noticed their Maryland tags.

Carter G. Woodson- Chapter 1: The Seat of Trouble part 2

This is a series regarding Shaw resident Carter G. Woodson’s book The Mis-Education of the Negro. Find part 1 here.

So there was a problem with Black college education:

When a Negro has finished his education in our schools, then, he has been equipped to begin the life of an Americanized or Europeanized white man, but before he steps from the threshold of his alma mater he is told by his teachers that he must go back to his own people from whom he has been estranged by a vision of ideals which in his disillusionment he will realize that he cannot attain.

In a previous paragraph he wrote:

In schools of journalism Negroes are being taught how to edit such metropolitan dailies as the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times, which would hardly hire a Negro as a janitor; and when these graduates come to the Negro weeklies for employment they are not prepared to function in such establishments, which, to be successful, must be built upon accurate knowledge of the psychology and philosophy of the Negro.

In my earlier post on this chapter I took a quote about how successful African-Americans were uneducated. These were the entrepreneurs of the age. Woodson points out the problem that college graduates from HBCUs, could not work in their fields of study because they were not white. They are not prepared, Woodson contends, to work in the places where they can be hired because they do not understand their customer nor their employer, because of their education.

For the arduous task of serving a race thus handicapped, however, the Negro graduate has had little or no training at all. The people whom he has been ordered to serve have been belittled by his teachers to the extent that he can hardly find delight in undertaking what his education has led him to think is impossible. Considering his race as blank in achievement, then, he sets out to stimulate their imitation of others The performance is kept up a while; but, like any other effort at meaningless imitation, it results in failure.

There is a paragraph I’ve very temped to skip and because of that I will include it: Continue reading Carter G. Woodson- Chapter 1: The Seat of Trouble part 2

Carter G. Woodson- Chapter 1: The Seat of Trouble part 1

This is a series regarding Shaw resident Carter G. Woodson’s book The Mis-Education of the Negro.

Post long disclaimer- I feel I need to mention my background and biases. I have a graduate degree studying Modern European History. As an undergrad, I studied Early Modern European History, mainly focusing on the Tudors, the Stuarts and Ireland. Why? Because those were the classes where I got better grades. I learned my lesson losing a scholarship for 1 year due to poor grades (failed Business school math), I stuck with the classes that upped my GPA. I took one class on African History.

I studied the ‘Atlantic World’ looking at the triangle trade taking place between Europe, Africa and the New World. For some reason, I wrote a grad school paper comparing South African agriculture and the sharecropping system in the US South regarding Black people. So I have a tiny bit of South African history under my belt.

That said, I have my opinions when I read Woodson’s words on ‘our history.’ I also understand he was a man of his time and the challenges of what was being taught in the public school system and in Black colleges were real. That challenge was that the education system dismissed the Negro (I’m going to use his words) and the African.

“At a Negro summer school two years ago, a white instructor gave a course on the Negro, using for his text a work which teaches that whites are superior to the blacks. When asked by one of the students why he used such a textbook the instructor replied that he wanted them to get that point of view. Even schools for Negroes, then, are places where they must be convinced of their inferiority. “

So that was a problem.

“Practically all of the successful Negroes in this country are of the uneducated type or of that of Negroes who have had no formal education at all. The large majority of the Negroes who have put on the finishing touches of our best colleges are all but worthless in the development of their people.”

It doesn’t really get any better. He pretty much considers the Black college graduate useless.

Last quote for this post : “And even in the certitude of science or mathematics it has been unfortunate that the approach to the Negro has been borrowed from a “foreign” method. For example, the teaching of arithmetic in the fifth grade in a backward county in Mississippi should mean one thing in the Negro school and a decidedly different thing in the white school. The Negro children, as a rule, come from the homes of tenants and peons who have to migrate annually from plantation to plantation, looking for light which they have never seen. The children from the homes of white planters and merchants live permanently in the midst of calculations, family budgets, and the like, which enable them sometimes to learn more by contact than the Negro can acquire in school. Instead of teaching such Negro children less arithmetic, they should be taught much more of it than the white children, for the latter attend a graded school consolidated by free transportation when the Negroes go to one-room rented hovels to be taught without equipment and by incompetent teachers educated scarcely beyond the eighth grade.”

I have no doubt whatsoever that Black schools lacked equipment. The one room school house or ‘rented hovel’ as Woodson puts it, could be part of a romantic past or nightmarish past, depending on how dark or rose colored the viewer’s glasses. But the “incompetent teachers” comment seems a bit harsh and cruel. Who do you think was teaching these Black children? Black teachers, products of Black colleges. My mother’s sisters and sister-in-laws were all teachers at one point in their lives, products of HBCUs, so the comments cut a little.

My grandmother, born and raised in North Carolina, had a 6th grade education. So she didn’t even make it to the eighth grade. She could read. She could write well enough to communicate her thoughts and maintain addresses in her address book. Maybe do simple math (that I’m unsure of). She was prepared enough to be a sharecropper’s wife.

Woodson will mention “foreigners” and “foreign” a few times in ways that make me uncomfortable because I think it hints of antisemitism. This was the early 1930s so distrusting and bad mouthing Jews was all the rage. And we know where that led. However here, in this paragraph it doesn’t have that connotation.

 

Property Owners of TC- Harry L. Black

So today’s owner from the 1933-1934 General Assessment snippet for Sq. 551, the block the NW Co-op and Mt. Sinai sit, is Harry Black (1884-1945). According to the snippet he owned lot 859. But a search of the Recorder of Deed records show he owned lots, 144-148, 154 and 155, which he bought from Dennis Lawrence of NYC in 1931. He also bought lot 218 from Warren F. and Maud G. Brenizer in 1922. Then other lots, 156-157 from two separate people in 1926. Lot 182 from Allen C. Clark in 1927. Lots 149-153 from William and Adelaide E. Muehleisen.

So what do we know about this real estate mogul? Harry Leslie Black was born in MoCo, married to Nora Elliot (1881-1955), and as far as I can tell had no children. In the 1930 Census he’s a Dairyman, working for a dairy. So when he sells many parcels (more than listed above) of land to Fairfax Farms Dairy, Inc. it makes sense. He was listed as a proprietor in one census, so was he bought out? Was he planning on retiring from the dairy biz anyway? Was he an investor in Fairfax Farms Inc?

At one point the Blacks lived near Truxton Circle, in Bloomingdale, at 52 Adams Street NW. But sometime after Harry retired they were living way up near Friendship Heights at 3640 Fessenden St. NW.

We’re getting close to the end of this series. Well maybe a season. I will get back to Black Homeowners of the TC and focus on 1930 and 1940 home owners.

 

Carter G. Woodson- Much Ado About A Name

I’m going to start at the near end of Carter G. Woodson’s book The Mis-Education of the Negro with an essay called “Much Ado About a Name.”

It starts with a discussion with a Lady Simon, the wife of a British Cabinet member who asked what did Black Americans want to be called. Lady Simon did not want to offend African Americans in her writings.

Although a student of social problems, this learned woman cannot fathom this peculiar psychology. Americans, too, must confess the difficulty of understanding it, unless it is that the “highly educated Negro mind” tends to concern itself with trifles rather than with the great problems of life. We have known Negroes to ask for a separate Y. M. C. A. or Y. W. C. A., a separate church or a separate school, and then object to calling the institution colored or Negro. These segregationists have compromised on principle, but they are unwilling to acknowledge their crime against justice. The name, they believe, will save them from the disgrace.

It does not matter so much what the thing is called as what the thing is. The Negro would not cease to be what he is by calling him something else; but, if he will struggle and make something of himself and contribute to modern culture, the world will learn to look upon him as an American rather than as one of an undeveloped element of the population.

So this comes off as critical.  I get it. I was not initially on board with the term African-American because it seemed to make my Americaness secondary. But with use, I’ve come to find utility in the term and the related Afro-American and  AfAm terms. I like the option for variety. But it is very limited and when writing about other members of the African diaspora, African- British or Afro-Canadian, just looks and sounds clunky.

Later in the essay and what can be hinted at in the above quotes, he is critical of AfAms who seem to be ashamed or wanting to downplay their Blackness. He mentions multiracial people who take pride in their African heritage. “As a rule, however, a European of African Negro blood feels proud of this racial heritage and delights to be referred to as such. The writer saw a striking case of this in London in the granddaughter of a Zulu chief. She is so far removed from the African type that one could easily mistake her for a Spaniard; and yet she thinks only for her African connection and gets her inspiration mainly from the story of her people beyond the Pillars of Hercules.”

Oh and for those of you who caught a whiff of shade he threw at the “highly educated Negro mind”….. yeah. There’s a lot of that. I’ll start at the beginning of his book next time and as we go through.

Now I hope you learned a little bit more about Carter G. Woodson than you knew before.

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-education

To me Carter G. Woodson was an avatar (second definition) or a figure to be used. He was the reason for the National Park Service to purchase some decaying Shiloh owned properties.

What did I know about the man? Just the very short elevator pitch: He started Black history week, which turned into Black History Month. He was an early 20th Century African American intellectual figure. He started a journal to study Black people. And most importantly, he lived, and did a lot of his work on 9th St in Shaw.

Because of some changes made by Audible regarding membership, I had a mess of credits I had to use up. I decided to use one of those on Carter G. Woodson’s Mis-Education of the Negro.

My honest first impression after listening to the audiobook is, that someone is a grumpy old man. He has criticism for everyone. For example, a young Black educated woman came to him looking for work. He offered her a job, but her pay would be either $15 a week or month (I forget which) and the young lady scoffs about how that isn’t enough for her to live. And there are more unhappy musings about Black college graduates, which come across to me as being a grumpus.

He was justified in his grumpiness. He does have points. Points I will cover from now through Black History Month in February.

Because I have a butt-load of Audible credits, I’ll give away the audiobook of Carter’s Mis-Education of the Negro, to the first two readers who managed to make it this far into my post. Just email me  mari at inshaw.com with the topic line of “Mis-education of the Negro”.

Rando thoughts ending in a music video

So I decided to look to see if there were land records involving George Glorius or any members of the Glorius family for Sq. 520 in the Recorder of Deeds records.

Glorius brought up bupkis.  Mainly because he was on Sq. 519 and proof that I should look at a map and not go by memory. So I decided to just look for anyone between 1920-1921. And I got Catharina Appollonia Miller later Catharina A. Ruppert (1871-1944).

“Ruppert” that is a name that shows up a lot. A. Lot. in Shaw records about property.  I’ve met the current set of Rupperts who run in the art/history circles in the Shaw area. Lovely people. The Rupperts I encounter in the historical records, not so lovely.  This is because I am encountering a landlord in a slum area.

But then I kept going back to her middle name and then had to find the video of the singer with that name. Enjoy Apollonia (if you like Prince adjacent artists) or get traumatized by the 80s.