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.

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.

 

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”.

Doomed History

There is a saying, that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And then there is another saying, “This time it’s different.” Both can be true.

111-LC-52730
Shaw destruction appeared in minute 13 of the original 19 minute clip. This is only 10 mins.

In 1968 Shaw, and some other areas, experienced an uprising, a riot, a civil disturbance, or whatever you choose to call it. Buildings were burnt out, stores were looted, windows were broken and it took 30 years for the neighborhood to come back.

I am concerned about the neighborhood and what may happen after Election Day. I’ve been predicting presidential elections correctly since I was 10. Y’all ain’t gonna like the results, so I’m taking Desctructo-kid and hanging out with friends in the boonies of Maryland for a while. I could be wrong. If so, it’s a little vacation. [UPDATE 11/9/20. It looks like my prediction streak hit a snag. Well as long as the people are happy, so be it.]

Our block fared okay in 1968. It should be okay. However in 1968 businesses on the corner of New Jersey and Rhode Island were damaged.

Most of the damage Shaw experienced in 1968 were along her commercial corridors along 14th, 9th, and 7th Streets. Black businesses were hit as well as white and Asian businesses and property.

Southeast on 7th and M Street, 1969

The destruction brought neither justice or peace. It did hasten building public and affordable housing because it also made neighborhood property cheaper. The thing with urban renewal is that the government buying the property gets to value to the property. And in minority areas, the government doesn’t pay top dollar.

Yes, this time it is different. Shaw isn’t a slum. But this time there are struggling businesses on the edge, as there was in 1968. COVID-19 has made it a sad Darwinist contest of survival of the fittest businesses. I just hope we never see the days of burned out husks of buildings and rows of empty storefronts again.

 

1957 Church Survey: Third Church of God

Okay I had to look at the old Shaw map to figure out if this was in Mount Vernon Square or Shaw or both. The answer is both. The Mount Vernon Square historical district overlaps with parts of Shaw.

Commercial Building Map
Map of Shaw for 1970 Commercial Buildings

The the other question was, “Is this the church on New Jersey Ave?”  Yup, 3rd Street, New Jersey Ave, same diff apparently. That little section between Morgan and New York Avenue, has northbound traffic going on New Jersey and southbound traffic on 3rd Street.

The Third Church of God appears to continue on as the Third Street Church of God. In the 1957 survey their address is listed as 1204 3rd Street NW. Looking at their history listed on their website they wrote: Continue reading 1957 Church Survey: Third Church of God

1957 Church Survey- New Hope Baptist

Some Church Survey posts are chock full of information, and some got nada. And that is New Hope Baptist Church.

CS 49 New Hope Baptist by Mm Inshaw

 

I looked up the address on Google and according to Streetview, the True Gospel Baptist Church is at that spot now. And just for my own records the SSL now is 0303-0052.  This page barely has any useful information, except the name of the then pastor Rev. Truman Dixon who lived on the premises at 1104 W Street NW.

Once again- The historical boundaries of Shaw

Okay so there is a write up in the Washington Post about Shaw. I’m debating about giving Alex Padro a hard time about the east boundary being New Jersey Avenue. Their graphic has Shaw’s western boundary at 13th St NW and the southern part just eats up Mt. Vernon . The boundaries of Shaw keep changing with each article so, there is that. This is a Real Estate article, and they quote Padro and Ibrahim Mumin, so I’m not going to nit pick much, except for this point.

Anyway, here’s a map

map of Shaw and CHand this gem

Commercial Building Map
Map of Shaw for 1970 Commercial Buildings

and this…

Proposed subway line through 1968 Shaw

At the DC Archives- Shaw School Urban Renewal

It has been a long while since I checked in on the DC Archives. I have opinions, but as I get older I know I should keep them to myself, for professional reasons, as my day job is in the field. What I will say is that I find it frustrating that there isn’t more available to the public on-line, the long promised new building has yet to be built, there are records that logically should be open that aren’t, and DC government agencies seem to be unclear as to where their records are.

Okay, now that’s off my chest.

I checked in on the DC Archives on-line to see if there was any improvement since the last time I went looking for something. The answer was yes, there was some improvement. One of my biggest complaints was that they didn’t have a decent catalog. You see many small archives are at universities and colleges, so their stuff sometimes sit on school library website, and librarians are super duper stars at getting information to the public. State archives vary. Some states are better than others, but there is usually a catalog. There are companies out there, go to an ALA conference, or even SAA and you will find companies that have catalogs with public sides, so the public can see what the heck you have. But if you’re too cheap/wary for that, there is always throwing PDFs of finding aids on your website.

One of those fine PDFs is for the Shaw School Urban Renewal District Case Files, 1967-1968. I have heard tale of this survey. What would be interesting is to see what buildings were found to be derelict in the 1968 survey that still stands today and has been renovated and if any had been demolished. What I find most useful is the list, on the last page, of all the squares in the Shaw neighborhood.

map of Shaw and 14th Street NW

It’s Black History Month- Blame Shaw’s Own Carter G. Woodson

Carter G. Woodson statue at night
Memorial for Dr. Carter G. Woodson at 9th and RI Ave NW.

It’s February so that means it’s Black History Month. And eventually somebody says something about February being the shortest month of the year and African Americans getting short shrift. Which is really ignorant because the “Father of Black History” Carter G. Woodson picked a week in February for Black History Week. That week turned into a month and that brings us to where we are. He could have picked another week in another month, but he didn’t. Please shaddap about February.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson (PhD, Harvard, 1912) noticed there was a lack of history documenting and telling the story of Black Americans in America. So he saw a problem and then fixed it. Quoting the NPS biography of Dr. Woodson, “The public knew very little about the role of African Americans in American history, and schools were not including African American history in their curriculum. He worked tirelessly throughout his life to remedy this problem, becoming nationally recognized as “the Father of Black History.” ”

Dr. Woodson lived and worked at 1538 9th Street NW, which is in Shaw. This would explain the statue, if you missed it, at 9th and Rhode Island Avenue NW. And the National Park Service complex at his historic home’s location. And of course, there are programs going on this month to celebrate the man. On February 15th and 29th at 1PM an actor will lead a 3 hour tour (a three hour tour) in the life of Dr. Woodson. The historic house is regularly open 3 days a week, Thursday through Saturday, 9 to 5.