Slummy history

Okay I think I now know what direction I want to go with my blogging. I have been thinking of ending InShaw, as we know it, sometime next year. Well I might just put InShaw in semi-retirement, just reporting on the TC side of things and things close to the TC borders. What I may replace it with is good old Shaw history since I’m finding the stuff I find so friggin interesting.
I’m not talking Victoriana or great people history. I don’t subscribe too much to the idea that history is a glorifying narrative, nah. To me it is an explanation of why this world is broken, and screwed up. Why my house was designed by crackheads. We hear the phrase ‘we read about history so that we may learn from it’, well this is what I’m learning, and I enjoy sharing it with you.
Looking for more info on the Shaw School Urban Renewal Plan, I found a master’s thesis from M.I.T. “The influence of meaningful citizen participation on the urban renewal process and the renewal of the inner-city’s black community: a case study – Washington, D.C.’s Shaw School urban renewal area – MICCO, a unique experiment.” by Reginald Wilbert Griffith, written in 1969. I want to thank MIT for putting out those papers that normally only 5 people tops (10 people for PhD dissertations) would ever see, because it is a jewel, even though it is a quite biased bit of work, or “limited objectivity on the part of the author,…”
The PDF file MIT provides to non-MIT people doesn’t allow printing, but it is worth the read for two bits that I found enlightening. One was a late 1960s description of the area on page 20:

The Shaw School area, named after an aged and dilapidated junior high school known as ‘Shameful Shaw’ is third in terms of the evolution of communities in the District of Columbia and was the fifth blighted section of Washington to be studied and the latest to be approved, for urban renewal. It was planned from a ‘black community’ and ‘advocacy planning’ point of view.

And on page 15, the author mentions “Concentrations and/or differences in land uses, physical conditions and building types, income property ownership and race coupled with identifiable places of community activity, all combine to suggest several communities within the Shaw area (see map 3).” However, he doesn’t try to name them, which I found frustrating.

Walking & Water Aerobics

From Jim:

For the fifth consecutive evening over the course of the past three weeks, a number of residents of the area walked 1.5 miles around the community. Specifically, the group meets at the corner of 3rd and Q Street, N.W., in front of Mount Sinai Baptist Church, every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to begin their walk. If you are interested in participating in this exercise regimen, please mark your calendar and show up on any Tuesday and/or Thursday to join us.

On a parallel track, efforts are being made to determine whether there is enough interest among residents of the area to also organize a water aerobics class one or two evenings per night at Dunbar Senior High School, New Jersey Avenue and O Street, N.W. If you would be interested in participating in such a class, please send me an email at jamojam at If we get the critical mass of interested folks that is needed to start a class, then we will identify an instructor and attempt to implement this program within the next 30 days.

Here’s to your good health!


Jim Berry
Bates Area Civic Association, Inc.