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.

There’s a hole in my Truxton Circle data

Image of hole in brick wallThere’s a hole in my Truxton Circle data. I discovered it with my Property Owners of Truxton Circle series. I was writing an article that I had hoped to publish based on the old data. But discovering this missing data means I have to take a break from that writing project.

It also means all the previous posts based on the data is a little off. It means the imagery based on the data is off.  The TruxtonCircle.org website will still have incorrect data until I am sure I got everything.

I guess this means I will be doing a bunch of QC. On the plus side, I’ll blog my discoveries.

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- George S. Duncan

It’s amazing how many George S. Duncans were in the world. And when I thought this Duncan was a reverend, there are a couple of Rev. George S. Duncans of Scottish decent. Thankfully the land records gave away his middle name and named his wife so that helped narrow things down.

George Stewart Duncan (3/2/1860-1946) and his wife Florence W. Duncan (1872-1949) owned several lots on Square 551. They owned Lot 16, which appears to include Lots 838 to 843, and Lots 30, 31, 32 and 840. They lived at 2900 7th St NE, not in Truxton Circle. His main profession was that of a minister and later he became an instructor at American University in Tenleytown. If I have the right Rev. George S. Duncan he is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery.

I’ve gone through an abnormal name change, so it could be karma should some future historian try to follow me. George S. seems to also be a George L. Duncan, as he has the same birthday. He’s gone through more than one wife as he is married to both a Florence and a Georgie Dennison both of New York state. Georgie was about 6-7 years older than George, and Florence was a younger model by 12 years. And they all lived on 7th Street NE.

Lot 32 went through an address change. According to Document #1936027307 it used to be 1619 3rd Street NW, and became 1633 3rd Street NW. It seems when the Duncans bought the property in 1924 it was 1619. By the time they did something (I am unsure how to interpret these documents) in 1936 with Mrs. John R. Hall (Martha K. Perry Hall) the address had changed to 1633 3rd St NW. With Square 511 having a different layout after the 1970s, this hints to trying to tie lots with addresses, difficult.  It appears that they sell it (all the lots) in 1941.

Landowner list of Sq 551I guess the reason why I am confused by the property documents are how they line up, or don’t, with the census records. So in 1930 the previously mentioned John and Martha Hall lived at 1633 3rd St NW and were listed as owners. But in the 1933-1934 Real Property Assessment (click on the image to see a larger sized item) has Rev. Duncan as the assessed party or owner. The documents between the white Duncans and the African American Halls range from 1924 to 1941. What was going on? I have no idea.

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- The Robinsons

Corner of R and Florida Ave NW, circa 1919/1921

For the Robinsons, you need to have read my post on the Levitovs because according to the Recorder of Deeds records, this is tied up in the Lot 19 mess.  Washington Robinson, is listed as the owner of Lot 848, but as we discovered with the Levitovs, Lots 846 to 855 are part of old Lot 19.

The thing with land records is that they don’t provide a lot of demographic information. I have no idea how old the people are. I can guess at ethnicity by names. So trying to tie people in with what I can find on Ancestry can be tricky. But sometimes the land records clue you in to other data points. With Washington Robinson, his wife Susie (nee Turner) is mentioned in some of the documents. And a rarity, the documents mentioned the address of their property, 144 R St NW. Continue reading Property Owners of Truxton Circle- The Robinsons

Property Owners of Truxton- Addendum to the Bundys

Okay, James F. Bundy from my previous post was on the DC School Board. So the Bundy School and the Bundy playground was named after him.

I found an obituary for him from the Evening Star on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America site. In December 14, 1914 he died at the age of 50 at Freedmens Hospital. One of his pallbearers was Judge Robert H. Terrell.

Although he was born in Virginia, he spent most of his life in Washington, DC. He did leave for Oberlin College in Ohio, but returned to attend Howard.

Not sure what his belief system was. He was listed as a trustee for the Baha’i Assembly of Washington. But he was a member of the Second Baptist Church in his obit.

In addition to have been on the DC School Board (1901-1907), he was the secretary of the Howard University Law faculty. He was an alumni graduating from Howard Law school in 1886. When I looked for him, I would find his name attached to public notices regarding wills and probate.

Somewhere in a university library is his biography, “James F. Bundy, 1862-1914” by Charles Murdah Thomas. His papers are at the Historical Society of Washington, DC.

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.

1957 Church Survey: National City Christian- Random church not in Shaw

I know it has been a good long while since I’ve put out the church surveys, so here’s a quick refresher. So the city and other authorities conducted a survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which was a precursor to the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area, which is just now known as Shaw. The thing is there was never a survey like this one ever conducted again. The survey included steeple churches, storefront churches and even little house churches. And the churches that did bother to answer most of the survey questions provide a wealth of demographic information.

Today’s church is National City Christian Church at Thomas and 14th Streets NW. It’s just outside the Shaw boundaries.

CS 61 National City Christian by Mm Inshaw

Looking at their survey response, in 1957 they were a large white middle class church with about 2000 members. Now looking at their website, they appear to be more multicultural as they have a 11AM Sunday worship service in Spanish.

It’s hard to say if they were a commuter church in 1957. About 40% lived in the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia, but half of the congregants lived somewhere in DC. Just not in the survey area, that was 10%. That makes sense as they were Downtown, and not a lot of people lived Downtown. Not did many of their congregants live in Shaw. But Dupont and the West End are sorta in walking distance.1957ChurchMap

 

The Triangle Known as Truxton Circle: Beans!

Back in 2017, I and two artist neighbors set up an exhibit at 410 GoodBuddy called The Triangle Known as Truxton Circle. I have a few things sitting on my computer from the exhibit that I’d like to share. Between no childcare and attempting to telework in less than ideal conditions, yes, I’m not posting much. But I can post this from the exhibit.

BEANS!
2016, Mixed Media

This picks up where Change 1880-1940 leaves off. Each bean represents a single person. Each container represents a census year. Each year is different.

Compare the different years.

What is going on here?

Why do you think some years have more people than others?

The neighborhood continues to transform.

So hopefully you’ve read the previous blog post Change 1880-1940, which were a set of maps showing patterns of households in Truxton Circle by race. Since the 1950 census wasn’t out (it will come out in a few years), I could not create a map. Brian Bakke, one of the artists in the show, suggested I show (somehow) what happened after 1940. I came up with Beans!

Triangle Known As Truxton Circle

I could figure out easily how to show Black and White individuals. Black beans and white Navy beans. For everyone else, that was a struggle. I had to find a bean that was around the same size as the other beans AND visually different from the Navy beans. That wound up being the Pinto bean.

Change 1880-1940 w BEANS 1950-2010Looking at the various containers of Beans! the neighborhood is almost exclusively African American in 1960. And you may notice the number of residents (each bean represents one person) from 1950 has decreased a little bit by 1960.  In 1970 the number goes down a bit more, but you might not notice. By 1980 the number of residents had significantly decreased in a noticeable way.

I remember being asked why was the population going down. There are various reasons, but the one I mentioned was the role of women changing. In 1950 African American kids were more likely to be raised in a two parent household than not, with mom at home. Here come the late 1960s and the Sexual Revolution and households got smaller. Women have less pressure to get married and have kids, or have kids at all.

There is also another change in the 1980s, a lot more other racial categories than Black or White show up. So more Pinto beans. By 2010 it is a whole bean soup mix melody.