25 Oct 2018
Black History DC
Washington DC, also known as the Chocolate City, is closely linked to Black History. The District of Colombia (DC) has always been home to Blacks. Metropolitan DC and environs such as Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Arlington for example, have good representation of Black History.
The history of blacks in the District of Colombia is significant history of the nation. However, majority of the tourists visiting DC are unaware of the rich history DC offers in every corner of the district. In the national mall where black history is abundant, the significance is not highlighted or placed on the right context.
For example, on April 16, 1862, Congress passed the District of Columbia Emancipation Act, making Washingtonians the first to free Blacks nine months before Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln.
Washington DC is a federal city and US Congress had the authority to pass the DC Emancipation Act because it was granted the power to “exercise exclusive legislation” over the federal district by the U.S. Constitution.
At the corner of East Capitol and 11 streets NE, there is a statute of President Abraham Lincoln with a newly freed slave called Emancipation Monument and it is also known as Freedman’s Memorial created in 1874 by Thomas Ball representing that history.
The main tourist attraction in DC get a lot of attention and there is abundance of tour guides that are doing excellent jobs on educating the public about the history of the nation. The monuments, the museums and the mall attract millions of visitors. Of those visitors, very small number of them venture out to areas significant to black history.
The history of black civil rights movement and the significant historic achievements are reflected in neighborhoods like the Adams Morgan area.
After the riots of 1968, the face of Washington’s significant neighborhood changed. The U street corridor, as it called now was a significant hub for black music, art and life style until it burned down destroying the businesses that supported the black communities that lived in the area.
Today, after decades of neglect, gentrification is changing the face of the neighborhood. But the history is still there.
Washington is important city for black history and the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture is attracting more visitors interested to learn, appreciate and understand the history of Blacks in America.