Tag Archives: George Fraser | posted in African American

Brownsville: Georgetown In Washington DC

2As you travel with me on this journey exploring the rich history of those African American communities that have become little more than footnotes in the annals of time. These segregated communities were the result of an unholy system imposed upon people of color commonly referred to as “Jim Crow” and every city or town in America had such a place.

This leads me to the next examination of a “Brownsville” – Georgetown in Washington DC. The entire world knows that DC is the capital of the free world with its avenues of grand marble structures that are more or less a crystallization of magnificence for tourist to admire. These magnificent architectural marvels are symbols of the power associated with America’s wealth. This area downtown is known as the Federal Triangle because it is an area established for federal government entities.

However, there is a hidden Washington that some have called a tale of two cities. Just blocks for these symbols of opulence live the disenfranchised, downtrodden, and neighborhoods of the forgotten. Prior to 1967, the city was run by and under federal control, which is why it is called a District – i.e., the District of Columbia. It was President Johnson who appointed Walter Washington, an African American, as the city’s first ever Mayor-Commissioner in an effort that came to be known as home rule.

The city has always been predominately African American with no real authority over its direction. The “District” as many locals call it was at that time a sleepy southern town not much different from any town in South Carolina or Mississippi as far as African Americans were concern. It was run by Dixiecrats to this point, and the Dixiecrats were worst than what we know today a Conservatives or Republicans. What you may not know, even today Washington has no voting representing in Congress making the capital of the free world, which is basically a plantation.

Washington has many African American enclaves that have long storied histories, but did you know Georgetown, one of Washington’s most renowned upscale communities, was once one of them. It is probably best known today as the home of Georgetown University and its championship basketball teams coached by the legendary John Thompson, and now by his son, or the many luminous sports figures produced by the institution. You may also know Georgetown because of its world-renowned nightlife, shopping or maybe a place home to famous people. One of its most famous residents was a young John Kennedy and his new bride Jackie, who called Georgetown home prior to moving into the White House.

It is also worth mentioning that many notable African American figures resided in communities around town such as the great orator Fredrick Douglass, who owned a home in Anacostia. Carter G. Woodson the creator of the concept “Black History Month” also owned a home in the city. These great men and all prominent African American politicians, artists, entrepreneurs, scholars, athletes and socialites were relegated to live in a town divided by the harsh separate but equal laws of the day.

Georgetown began as a Maryland tobacco port on the banks of the Potomac River in 1751. When Congress created the District of Columbia to be the nation’s capital in 1791, its 10-mile square boundaries were drawn to include this port town, as well as a very similar Virginia tobacco port of Alexandria just across the river. Alexandria was given back to Virginia in 1846, but Georgetown remains as one of Washington’s most lively urban neighborhoods.

Georgetown historically had a large African American population, including both slaves and free blacks. Slave labor was widely used in the construction of new buildings in Washington just as they were used to provide labor on tobacco plantations in Maryland and Virginia. Let me be very clear, slaves and their labor was the workforce that built the White House, Capital, and most of the grand marble structures of opulence.

Georgetown was also a major slave trading depot that dates back as early as 1760, when John Beattie established his business on O Street and conducted business at other locations called “pens” around Wisconsin Avenue and M Street; with both locations being just a short distance from the White House. Slave trading continued until the mid-19th century, when it was ended on April 16, 1862. Many former slaves moved to Georgetown following their freedom establishing this thriving community.

When African American’s settled in Georgetown the free men established the Mount Zion United Methodist Church that remains today, which is the oldest African American congregation in Washington. This feat due to their strong religious convictions was a testament to their fortitude after experiencing the horrors of slavery. Mount Zion also provided a cemetery for free burials to Washington’s earlier African American population. Prior to establishing the church, free blacks and slaves went to the Dumbarton Methodist Church where they were restricted to hot, overcrowded balcony.

I’m sure a sense of extreme prided was evident in Washington at the time because it became the home of Howard University. Although not in Georgetown, this preeminent university was established for Blacks in 1867 with the aid of the Freedmen’s Bureau. It was named for the commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, General Oliver Otis Howard. The Freedmen’s Bureau was intended to help solve everyday problems of the newly freed slaves, but its most widely recognized achievement was its accomplishments in the area of education. Prior to the Civil War, no southern state had a system of universal, state-supported public education for “Coloreds” but Washington now had an advanced school of learning.

In the early twentieth century, new construction of large apartment buildings began on the edge of Georgetown. The eyes of the elite became trained on the area. John Ihlder led efforts to take advantage of new zoning laws to get restrictions enacted on construction in Georgetown. However, legislators largely ignored concerns about the historic preservation of Georgetown until 1950, when Public Law 808 was passed establishing the historic district of “Old Georgetown.” The law required the United States Commission of Fine Arts to be consulted on any alteration, demolition, or building construction within the historic district. As you can imagine, this proper and official sounding solution was not designed to benefit the African American citizens living in Georgetown.

Georgetown began to emerge as a fashion and cultural center of the newly identified community. While many “old families” stayed in Georgetown, the neighborhood’s population became poorer and more racially diverse; its demographics started to shift as a wave of new post-war residents arrived, many politically savvy, well-educated, and people from elite backgrounds took a keen interest in the neighborhood’s historic nature for their own benefit. It was during this time that the Citizens Association of Georgetown was formed. It is my understanding that the Old Georgetown Act was really a polite, or maybe not so polite, way of saying gentrification.

I am not implying nor suggesting that the Act was designed to remove African American’s and poor residences from the community (wink), but it did create an environment where people of low to moderate income could no longer afford to live there. High-end developments and gentrification have revitalized the formally African American neighborhood and what was viewed as a blighted industrial waterfront.

Some say what happened in simple terms, according to the thinking of the day; someone decided to trade a penny for a pound, and very effectively. In other words gentrification!!! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The Mis-Educated Negro

22I once taught a college course where “The Mis-Education of the Negro” was the required class text. It was an amazing experience because I realized that the message remains relevant today. This great work was originally published in 1933 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the father of BLACK HISTORY MONTH. I feel this book should be mandatory reading for all African America’s – young and old.

As the class read the assigned chapters and we discussed them I was struck by the fact that we have not understood the powerful message contained within its pages. The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that Negro’s of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools or not taking advantage of education period. This conditioning, he claims, causes African Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. This assertion is clearly evident nearly eighty-years later.

He challenged his readers to become empowered by doing for themselves, regardless of what they were taught: “History shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning.”

Today with all the advantages concerning educational opportunities, business exposure, and social networking we are in the best position to succeed than at any time in our history. So the question is “why are we not networking and doing business with each other?” Every other ethnic community takes advantage these options to strengthen and empower themselves – while robbing our communities in the process. We will let anybody setup shop in our communities and take our money.

My point is: we must learn to do business with each other in order to gain wealth by keeping the money in our community. Some say; we spend TRILLION’S annually, and nearly all of it leaves our community within 15 minutes. Let me remind you that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. We can change the world but first we must change ourselves.

Here is a quote from the “The Mis-Education of the Negro”:

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

To the many who have read my blog know that I believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. So I say it’s time to know where you came from to know where you’re going, if we are ever going to get there. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

http://johntwills.com


John T. Wills With “That Literary Lady”

On Friday, August 23, 2013, John T. Wills will be the guest author on “That Literary Lady” Radio Talk Show at 6:30 (EST). You are invited to call in to speak with the host and guest @ (646) 716-8598.

interview

Be sure to tune in LIVE or listen later via the archieve: 
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ontheairwiththatliterarylady/2013/08/23/on-the-air-with-john-t-wills-and-jackie-moore
 
“Knowledge is power and power produces an understanding that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair.”  – John T. Wills
 

book 1just a season book cover.

                   
http://johntwills.com
 
Praise for Just a Season
 
www.yolandamjohnson.com 
www.thatliterarylady.com

The Harriet Tubman Sex Tape

th (24)I really don’t like calling anyone out because I understand that no one is perfect and as human beings all of us are naturally designed for errors and mistakes. But the mental challenges and disrespect from some of the otherwise respected and so-called leaders, and what they do to our ancestors are deplorable. Russell Simmons could only wish he had done something or anything as significant as our Lady called Moses.
 
Russell you know better!!!
 
Have our culture digressed to such a low state of discussed where the likes of a Russell Simmons or a Little Wayne, who disrespected the legacy of little Emmitt Till, would do such deplorable acts of disrespect. Have they forgotten that these legends were at least partially responsible for both being in the position they are in today.
 
I won’t go so far as to compare them to the “House Niggers” Brother Malcolm X referred too but I will call them sell-outs for money that caused their disrespect to the legacy of our past. Tubman spent nearly 30 years as a slave before escaping in 1849. She led hundreds of slaves to freedom as part of the anti-slavery resistance network known as the Underground Railroad.
 
The 55-year-old Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records, is old enough to know better and should be ashamed. I am one who will call his actions a DISGRACE! Although he wrote Thursday that he “can now understand why so many people are upset… and that he’s “sincerely sorry” to those offended by the clip”. Simmons should know that although he removed the video, it still lives online.
 
Russell I HAD some measure of respect for you and some of the things you’ve done – BUT THIS has removed all or what little respect you earned from me. I will not purchase anything connected to you or your entities ever again. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

LIFE

About The Book

book coverLIFE, is a poetry book of 50 poems about my life’s journey as a Christian woman going through one of the most life changing experiences.  I began to write this book while being homeless, living in a shelter, and continuing to go through as a woman of God.  My book is about overcoming life’s struggles.  And God has defined what I went through with the title, LIFE.  Keeping that relationship with Jesus.

About The Author

Born on April 6, 1980, in Birmingham, Alabama, Diana Strickland had a gift of writing, speaking, and singing.  She wrote her first book in elementary and was often the poet to represent her class.  Her mother acknowledges that Diana was not a crying baby but she yelled.  Her voice was very strong then and still is strong now.  Her mother moved her family out of the projects to give them a better and healthier life.  Diana Strickland no longer had her teachers to groom and support her so she became very fearful.  Her fears paralyzed her and she didn’t speak or write until she was a full grown woman serving GOD.

head shotIn 2004 Diana Strickland was married and moved to New Jersey.  When her marriage failed she cried out to Jesus in her bathtub.  She was tired of a string of mistakes and lies.  Her life was in circles like a roller coaster ride that was not enjoyable.  She threw up her hands and surrendered to Jesus.  She rededicated her life to JESUS and became a true Christian.

God had worked with her and given her another opportunity.  She began to complete her first poetry book and created a ministry website called Believer To Believer.  Things were finally looking really hopeful for her.  She was committed and was taking her life’s choices seriously.  However with all the new love and growth Diana Strickland would have her faith tested with disappointments and heartbreak not far.

In 2007 Diana Strickland was terminated from both of her jobs.  Diana lost almost everything of value in her life except CHRIST JESUS.  She moved around two different homes before settling down in a shelter.  At this point Diana was homeless, living in a shelter, and struggling being poor.  But her faith never wavered although it was tested.  Diana began to write poems to her second book, LIFE, while going through this season.  In Diana’s latest book, LIFE, she “provides an honest spiritual analysis of a woman who learns that throughout her greatest challenges, her ever-increasing faith holds the key to a future of unbelievable promise!”

Today Diana Strickland is a student at Abundant Life Bible Institute to obtain her Associates degree in Theology.  She is employed with two published poetry books and a ministry website.  She also ministers her poetry at different events.  Diana Strickland has her hands full but by the grace of God she will accomplish all that God has planned. She proudly shares her testimony without looking down.

Book Excerpt

CROSSROADS

YOUR PAST IS YOUR PRESENT

Your Past Is Your Present

don’t bring up what you did

but your present speaks loud and clear

what you use to do is what you do

you haven’t matured

my mom once said

there’s nothing like an old fool

Your Past Is Your Present

singing the same tune

this man hurt you

like the last one did

the tears even fall the same

you have no sympathy here

you haven’t learned a thing

Your Past Is Your Present

drama mama

confusion and strife

up and through your life

you can’t sit down

your world is crazy

and it’s been that way for years

 

Connect with the Author

Email Address: authordianastrickland@aol.com
Website www.authordianastrickland.com
Youtube: www.youtube.com/dianastrickland
Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/authordiana

Trailer: http://youtu.be/R92aL0fZBgo

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/LIFE-Diana-Strickland/dp/1612155618/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371142988&sr=1-2&keywords=diana+strickland

Tour Schedule: http://wnlbooktours.com/diana-strickland/

http://johntwills.com


Does Race Matter

th (22)Since the G-Man got away with murdering Trayvon Martin or should I call it an assassination or the court’s decision regarding the controversial “Stop and Frisk” polices and surely the recent Supreme Court decision that said black voters don’t count begs the question or at least consideration of thought – “Does race matter?”

This is a conversation most Caucasians struggle with, at least openly, whereas most seem afraid to talk about the subject of race and view the topic as “nothing to see here”. They said the same thing in 1963! They know and clearly understand racial inequity is an issue that needs to be addressed but based on a biased they believe is their right to have control and an inherent privilege to be superior the clock is being turned back every day. Then maybe the hands of time, in their mind, never really moved.

The stories based in fact of oppression, racism, segregation and even slavery are very real. Most African Americans have experienced it in one form or another and know it is real. Of course, slavery was not physically visited upon African American people today by law but the tactics used mentally and institutionally is “slavery and by any other name is SLAVERY”.

You cannot view the history of America and not see that race has and still does matter. The obvious differences can be found in neighborhoods, employment, schools, and surely in every aspect of the legal system – causes one to ask why. I read a poll recently that said the Trayvon Martin story differed tremendously along political and racial lines. Many said, the murderer had a right to kill this child (white-conservatives) and others say absolutely not (Black-liberal). Personally, I side with the sane and not insane.

More to the point, there was a time in my life where I saw police trample peaceful protesters on horseback, marchers beaten in the streets, and fire hoses turned on people. During the Civil Rights era African-American citizens, who were called Negro’s at the time, where only asking for and in most cases begging for the basic human right to live. Then a few years prior to that, in the first half of the last half century, black men where lynched by the hundreds for entertainment. Yet, most of white America believed and supported by law these actions as just.

Was this colorblindness that dictated these policies that allowed justice which is blind to permit the wretchedness of racism to exist in the hearts and minds of people? You may realize that whenever the conversation of race comes up; there is the usual quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “we want to judge people not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” If the issue of race was only that simple – the world would be a better place, but it’s not. So let’s talk about it – honestly – and take the necessary steps to correct the wrongs.

The historic March on Washington for jobs and freedom occurred fifty-years ago and another march is planned in commemoration in a few weeks asking for the same thing fifty-years later. African Americans see matters of race from a completely different perspective. When you’ve felt the brunt of this wretched ideal you know it and see it.

Look at it this way, there was an old man who was bent over. Someone told him to stand up. The old man had been bent over so long – he said, “I thought I was!” Most minorities today do not wish to wait another fifty-year’s for that promise to be realized. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Coincidence

th (16)This November will mark fifty-years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy occurred in Dallas, Texas. This was one of those seminal moments in time where everyone who was a live can remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.

Most know very little or remember what happened that day. Did you know this:

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
 
Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960. 
 
Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
Both wives lost a child while living in the White House. 
 
Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head.
 
Now it gets really weird.
 
Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy’s Secretary was named Lincoln.
 
Both were assassinated by Southerners.
Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.
 
Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
 
John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
 
Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters.
 
Now hang on to your seat.
 
Lincoln was shot at the theater named “Ford.”
Kennedy was shot in a car called “Lincoln” made by “Ford.”
 
Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.
 
And here’s the “kicker”:
 
A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland.
A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.
 
AND……………….:
 
Lincoln was shot in a theater and the assassin ran to a warehouse…
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and the assassin ran to a theater…

For months I have been working on two articles (1) The Kennedy Assassination and (2) The March On Washington. You don’t want to miss either! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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