March 08, 2012

LeDroit residents tell their stories

Who are your neighbors? In December, LeDroit Park resident Robert Sullivan launched a website Portait City that features audio and photographic profiles of several LeDroit Park residents.  You may not know these subjects personally and perhaps maybe you have seen them in the neighborhood.  Nonetheless, they each provide a fascinating mosaic of LeDroit Park.

Interview subjects include Bobby Donaldson, the South Carolina native who opened B&J Barbeque at Rhode Island Avenue and 3rd Street.  You’ll find out what inspired him to open a restaurant and what people like in their barbeque.

LeDroit resident and former Ward 1 councilmember Frank Smith spent part of his youth as a civil rights worker in rural Mississippi. Mr. Smith recorded and reported civil rights abuses, such as bogus “literacy tests” that southern states used to prohibit black residents from voting.  Here how he reacted to Marion Barry’s infamous arrest.

Hear from the Elks Lodge and their relationship with the neighborhood.  You can also hear Elks reminisce about performances at the Howard Theatre back in the day.

The flamboyantly dressed “Hollywood” explains his eclectic attire and Bloomingdaler John Salatti sings the praises of his wife and Bloomingdale.

Finally, Robert was able to interview LeDroit residents Dolores Baylor and her daughter Mechelle just before Dolores died in December.  Mechelle explains what it was like growing up in the neighborhood and Dolores recounts what it was like living through the riots of 1968.

The lives of famous figures in history are well-documented, but it is also important to record the experiences and views of the not-so-famous.  Robert contracted your author, who is a professional web developer by day, to build the site.  While building the site, we couldn’t help but notice that each story delivered its own unexpected poignancy.

Categories: History
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1 Reply

  1. And don’t forget that LeDroit Park photographer, Mark Silva, took all the amazing photos!

    maria - March 17, 2012 @ 10:22 pm

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