History, memory, and stuff

It’s been well over a decade since I’ve had to take a historiography course and several years since I’ve had to study and read about bias in public history. One book that I know I’ve read for the public history portion of a museum class was Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays by Mike Wallace. Another book, which I have not read is A Golden Haze of Memory: The Making of Historic Charleston by Stephanie E. Yuhl, and from the reviews it seems to tell of a ‘history’ story shaped by a particular social group via selective building preservation and appropriating aspects of the African-American story that did not undermine their own. Both point to how history has been used and as Wallace asserts, abused. Wallace provides an example of President Ronald Reagan’s style of storytelling that supported whatever conservative point he was trying to make. One example was the story of immigrants’ coming to America, the land of opportunity, and pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. This image glossed over the discrimination, poverty and other things faced by those immigrants, Wallace points out. A jewel from Yuhl’s book:

“Similarly, Charleston’s heritage trade was an ideological construct that enabled a small group of elite whites to perpetrate their selective historical memories and peddle them to eager tourists in a highly consumable form.”

Bringing this down to the local level, Shaw has a story, which in it’s most basic form is fine. That story being, black people lived here, black notables lived within the borders we know as Shaw, Dunbar was a the top African American high school in the country, and U Street was only second to Harlem. Okay, maybe some other cities may argue that last point, whatever. One of the problems in it’s retelling, and these can be considered really minuscule problems, the Jewish/Italian/general immigrant story seem less real in the face of this popular story. Another small problem I see, is some unnecessary straw grabbing, such as claiming notables who lived in other neighborhoods, like LeDroit Park. And maybe a more important problem is selective memory and the sin of omission, that retells the popular story by picking and choosing the nicest parts, ignoring the huge social problem that made the area a target for urban renewal. The popular story doesn’t tell where the black middle class went after the golden age, it doesn’t explain why there are so many social services here and why the area became ripe for gentrification and street crime. It doesn’t tell the long sad tale of housing, vacancy, slum lords, and programs that fell a little short due to cronyism and inflation. It does tell the story of the riots, the hint that there was something amiss. Messy history with still lingering sore points isn’t exactly highly consumable for the tourist crowd.

Lotta stuff going on at the Big-bear

Call for Drummers!!
Haitian Drumming Sessions after the Streetside Symphony
Sunday, September 9th

Haitian Tombou drummers are incredible.
If you play bongos or congas, or anything that can hold a beat, come bring an instrument and play after the streetside Haitian Symphony this Sunday, September 9th at the Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market.

Drummers will be playing before and after the classical music performance. The symphony should be over by around 1:30pm, so bring a drum and see what happens.

Just a Few More Days Until …. Haitian Choral & Orchestral Symphony and Free Neighborhood Pig Roast

See this message from Big Bear Cafe’s Stu Davenport:

Haitian Choral and Orchestral Symphony, and Free Neighborhood Pork Roast!

Sunday, September 9th, Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market

We have raised over $500, and we are almost ready for the BBQ. Special thanks to Councilmen Harry Thomas Jr., and Kwame Brown for their support…. and commissioner John Salatti for helping get the money together. This should be a lot of fun.
On September 9th, Les Petits Chanteurs will be performing at the 10am service at St. George’s Episcopal Church, and then around 12 noon the group along with the congregation of St. George’s will be coming to the Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market for the street side Caribbean symphony…

Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market
First and R Streets, NW

message from Martha Cherlot from the Embassy of Haiti:


A Haitian Choral and Orchestral Symphony, and Free Neighborhood

Pork Roast!

Sunday, September 9th at the Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market

Come to the Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market Sunday September 9th for a free neighborhood Bar-B-Que!

There will be free-range pork and lamb on the grille, vegetables and fruits in the stands, and a full suckling pig roasting in a fire pit!

There will also be music from a group of 50+ choral and classical musicians from Port Au Prince, Haiti, playing with six violins, two violas, two cellos, a double bass, a flute, and a Haitian tambour drum.

Come and celebrate the Bloomingdale

Farmers’ Market!

Come and help us thank everyone who has helped make it a reality..

Sunday, September 9th
First and R Streets, NW


Robin Shuster
Markets & More, LLC
Director, Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market
14 & U Farmers Market
1318 Wallach Place NW
Washington, DC 20009
The Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market:
June 17- November 18th, 2007
Rain or Shine
Sundays, 10-2
First and R Streets NW
right next to the new Big Bear Cafe

We welcome WIC and CSFP Senior Farmers Market Coupons.