August 15, 2016 - 4:56 pm

Two free history walking tours of LeDroit Park next month

U Street in 1908U Street in 2009

Come on out for a free history walking tour of LeDroit Park next month.  I conduct this tour annually as part of WalkingTown DC.

We will explore the unique architecture and the historical figures who transformed the neighborhood into the home of Washington’s black intelligentsia at the start of the 20th century. Neighborhood notables included Dr. Anna J. Cooper, Mayor Walter Washington, Sen. Edward Brooke, Rep. Oscar De Priest, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Mary Church Terrell, Duke Ellington, and Rev. Jesse Jackson. We will also admire the unique 19th-century houses and the 12 distinct architectural styles present in the neighborhood.

The tours will be on Sunday, September 18 at 2 pm and Sunday, September 25 at 2 pm. Meet me at the arch at 6th Street and Florida Avenue NW.  The tours are free and open to the public.

Alternatively, for $15 you can attend Sarah Shoenfeld’s tour on September 11 to explore the history of housing segregation in LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale.

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September 15, 2015 - 3:30 pm

Free history walking tours of LeDroit Park this month

U Street in 1908U Street in 2009

Come on out for a free history walking tour of LeDroit Park.  I conduct this tour annually as part of WalkingTown DC.

We will explore the unique architecture and the historical figures who transformed the neighborhood into the home of Washington’s black intelligentsia at the start of the 20th century. Neighborhood notables included Dr. Anna J. Cooper, Mayor Walter Washington, Sen. Edward Brooke, Rep. Oscar De Priest, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Mary Church Terrell, Duke Ellington, and Rev. Jesse Jackson. We will also admire the unique 19th-century houses and the 12 distinct architectural styles present in the neighborhood.

The tours will be on Saturday, September 19 at 1 pm and Sunday, September 27 at 1pm. Meet me at the arch at 6th Street and Florida Avenue NW.  The tours are free and open to the public.

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January 05, 2015 - 12:24 pm

Edward Brooke, a LeDroit Park native and US Senator, has died

On Saturday, Edward Brooke, a LeDroit Park native and the first popularly elected African-American in the U.S. Senate died at age 95.  Mr. Brooke grew up at 1938 3rd Street (pictured below) in LeDroit Park, attended Dunbar High School, and graduated from Howard University in 1941.

After serving in World War II, in which he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, he moved to Boston and graduated from Boston University Law School.  He practiced law in Boston and ran for office several times, usually as a Republican.  The idea of a black New England Republican seems like an impossibility today, but the party was more ideologically diverse in that era and Mr. Brooke was part of its now-extinct liberal wing.

Mr. Brooke was elected Attorney General of Massachusetts in 1962 and the state’s voters elected him to represent them in the U.S. Senate in 1966.  Mr. Brooke was the first African-American popularly elected to the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Senators were typically appointed by state governments until the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913.  During Reconstruction the Mississippi state government was under Federal control, meaning those in power were Northern newcomers or abolitionist Southerners with liberal views on race relations.  Under this short-lived political alignment, the Mississippi legislature appointed two black Republicans to the U.S. Senate, but their terms were short.  Pressure from the former Confederate establishment and political intimidation from white supremacist groups ensured that when the Mississippi government was released from Federal control, new legislators quickly put Jim Crow laws into place.  No African-American entered the Senate again until Mr. Brooke in 1966.

Mr. Brooke’s biggest policy achievements include co-sponsoring the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the 1969 Housing Act’s so-called Brooke Amendment, which limited public housing rent to 25% of the tenant’s income.

In 2004, Pres. Bush awarded Mr. Brooke the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2009 Congress awarded Mr. Brooke a Congressional Gold Medal.

He died on Saturday at age 95 at his home in Coral Gables, Florida.  Below is a photo of his childhood home in LeDroit Park.

Edward Brooke House

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October 04, 2013 - 2:49 pm

Reminder: Free history walking tour of LeDroit Park this weekend

U Street in 1908U Street in 2009

Come on out Saturday or Sunday for a free history walking tour of LeDroit Park.  I conduct this tour annually as part of WalkingTown DC.

The tours will be on Saturday, October 5 at 1 pm and again on Sunday, October 6 at 10 am. Meet me at the arch at 6th Street and Florida Avenue NW.  The tours are free and open to the public.  No reservations are required.

We’ll cover

  • The neighborhood’s founding
  • Relationship with the Howard Theatre
  • Architectural history
  • The Park at LeDroit
  • Walter Washington
  • Ernest Everett Just
  • Robert & Mary Church Terrell
  • Anna Julia Cooper
  • William Birney
  • Edward Brooke
  • Octavius Williams
  • Oscar De Priest
  • Griffith Stadium
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September 12, 2013 - 10:29 am

Get a free history tour of LeDroit Park on Oct. 5 & 6

How was LeDroit Park established and who built all those unique homes on U Street? Why did the neighborhood start as exclusively white but become important to black history? As part of the annual WalkingTown DC event, I will lead two free walking tours of the neighborhood.

The tours will be on Saturday, October 5 at 1 pm and again on Sunday, October 6 at 10 am. Meet me at the arch at 6th Street and Florida Avenue NW.  The tours are free and open to the public.

We’ll cover

  • The neighborhood’s founding
  • Relationship with the Howard Theatre
  • Architectural history
  • The Park at LeDroit
  • Walter Washington
  • Ernest Everett Just
  • Robert & Mary Church Terrell
  • Anna Julia Cooper
  • William Birney
  • Edward Brooke
  • Octavius Williams
  • Oscar De Priest
  • Griffith Stadium
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September 12, 2012 - 7:40 am

Get a free history tour of LeDroit Park on Sept. 30

How was LeDroit Park established and who built all those unique homes on U Street? Why did the neighborhood start as exclusively white but become so important to black history? As part of the annual WalkingTown DC event, I will lead two free walking tours of the neighborhood.

The tours will be on Sunday, September 30 at 1 pm and again at 3:30 pm. Meet me at the arch at 6th Street and Florida Avenue NW.  The tours are free and open to the public.

We’ll cover

  • The neighborhood’s founding
  • Relationship with the Howard Theatre
  • Architectural history
  • The Park at LeDroit
  • Walter Washington
  • Ernest Everett Just
  • Robert & Mary Church Terrell
  • Anna Julia Cooper
  • William Birney
  • Edward Brooke
  • Octavius Williams
  • Oscar De Priest
  • Griffith Stadium
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November 03, 2009 - 9:55 pm

A Congressional Gold Medal

We’re a week late on the news, but on October 28 President Obama awarded a Congressional Gold Medal to LeDroit Park native son the former Republican Senator from Massachusetts Edward William Brooke III.

Though he grew up here in LeDroit Park (at 1938 Third Street, NW), Sen. Brooke represented Massachusetts for two terms, from 1967 to 1979, and was a strong supporter of civil rights laws.  He co-authored the 1968 Fair Housing Act, the first Federal housing law (with teeth) to prohibit various forms of housing discrimination.

Speaking of fair-housing policies, in 1948 the Supreme Court ruled that restrictive covenants (restricting home sales on account of race and religion) were illegal.  At issue in the case, Hurd v. Hodges, was the purchase of 116 Bryant Street, NW, in Bloomingdale.

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