Posts Tagged Anacostia

Douglassonian Lecture: Frederick Douglass and Islam (America’s Islamic Heritage Museum, Sat., Feb 24, 1pm – 2pm, 2315 MLK Jr. Avenue SE)

Peace Islam.

Many an evening after reporting on a community meeting, development presentation or coming from the Douglass House I have passed by America’s Islamic Heritage Museum.

Often Mr. and Mrs. Muhammad have seen me and invited me to come inside to share in breaking bread for an event or celebration held at their wonderful museum and community center.

Mr. Amir Muhammad, a true Douglassonian and Islamic Scholar of the first order, has been a friend for many years. When my dear friend and fellow street reporter William Alston-El was struggling and I did not where or who to turn to for counsel Mr. Muhammad was kind enough to let me bend his ear. William is now doing much better and in the care of his family.

Mr. Muhammad and his wife are respected scholars and community leaders not just in Anacostia but throughout the Islamic world. They have worked with the State Department and institutions of higher education for many years. Local children are fed after-school meals at the museum.

If you visit the museum often or you have never been before please come through to this presentation and/or consider supporting the museum.

Presentation on Frederick Douglass and Islam.
America’s Islamic Heritage Museum
Saturday, February 24, 2018 – 1pm to 2pm 
2315 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE

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197th birthday of Frederick Douglass, Feb. 13 & Feb. 14, 2015 [FREE!]

FD 197th bday image

For a full list of the events visit HERE & to RSVP for the events visit HERE!

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Anacostia Branch of the DC Public Library: “Frederick Douglass’ Anacostia” Sat., July 20th 2:00 p.m.

Know Your Neighborhood _ Anacostia (DCPL)Know Your Neighborhood: Frederick Douglass’ Anacostia

Saturday, July 20, 2013 – 2:00pm, FREE

Anacostia Library, 1800 Good Hope Road SE

Founded in 1854 as the first suburb of Washington City, the true story of
Anacostia and its most notable resident, Frederick Douglass, has largely
evaded the detective work of historians.

Join John Muller, local journalist and author of Frederick Douglass in
Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia, for a lively presentation and
engaging discussion on the community’s history and potential.

Web Link: http://www.dclibrary.org/node/36178

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Frederick Douglass 15-foot wheat paste on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE in Historic Ancostia

Fred Douglass wheat past on lower Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE

Photo by John Muller & William Alston-El. Copyright strictly enforced online and offline.

Take a trip down MLK / What a beautiful day / What a beautiful day

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Enter 2012 Frederick Douglass Oratorical Contest … submissions due November 14, 2012

To learn more visit HERE.

According to the National Park Service’s Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, “The goal of the Oratorical Contest is for students to experience the same transformative power of language that Frederick Douglass did as a young man. The contest is open to all students in grades 1-12 and is hosted in early December. Students memorize and present a portion of a Douglass speech from a stage at his home of Cedar Hill.”

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Thank you to Anacostia resident William Alston-El for keeping alive the spirit of Frederick Douglass

If you have been in Anacostia more than once in the past forty years there is a good chance you have come across William Alston-El. Over the past two years I have come to know William, writing about him for stories on Greater Greater Washington. Like Frederick Douglass, he once ran the streets with a reckless abandon. But William has since turned a new corner in his life and takes leadership roles in Anacostia not many others can take. “I show up at all the meetings to speak for those who aren’t there,” he has often told me. When walking the neighborhood William employs tough love as well as encouragement to many of the men and women he has known for decades but are still struggling with substance abuse issues. “If I can change, and make a difference in my community, so can you brother/sister,” he often says. Additionally, William is in touch with the younger generation often imparting advice to them. He can speak their language and has a legitimacy which few others have. William, a painter by trade, advocates the “mechanical arts” much like Douglass did in his later years.

It is through men and women like William that the spirit of Frederick Douglass lives on in today’s Anacostia.

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Message to Frederick Douglass biographers, “You come at the king, you best not miss.” [Dr. Leigh Fought]

The raw streets of Baltimore, Maryland gave the world Frederick Douglass in the 19th century, Tupac Shakur in the 20th century, and the HBO television show “The Wire” in the 21st. Without a doubt were Frederick Douglass alive today (his 19th century self of course) you know he would have thoughts and opinions ready to share on how “The Wire” has somehow integrated itself as equally into today’s street culture (of which it sought to diagnose) and into our common learned culture and popular zeitgeist culture.

To be clear, at 16th & W Street SE a reference to “The Wire” will be as recognizable in the pristine and gated classrooms of the Ivory Towers. Just how is it that former crime reporter David Simon (and his supporting team) could create a show whose cultural impact resonates and cuts across these disparate segments of society? Sounds like an oration Douglass could go wild with.

That said, forgotten in the common memory and mythology of Frederick Douglass is how he came up. Frederick Douglass was  as much from the streets of Baltimore as he was from the fields of Talbot County. These Maryland experiences — in the city and the country — was where Douglass drew the intellectual gunpowder he would use to ignite the thinking minds of crowds, his family, close friends, and enemies for parts of seven decades.

This weekend Dr. Leigh Fought gave a thoughtful and well-researched presentation on Anna Douglass, Frederick Douglass’ wife of 44 years.

In the Q&A session chatter shifted to Love Across Color Lines in which the author is heavy-handed in her speculation that Douglass had an affair that lasted nearly three decades. Dr. Fought and I have both found serious flaws with the citations and the author’s imaginative interpretation of sources.

Speaking of Deidrich’s laudable but faulted effort, as well as future biographers of Douglass, Dr. Fought invoked one of the more notable lines from “The Wire” and the show’s infamous stick-up man, Omar (played by Michael K. Williams who was in “Bullet” alongside Tupac).

“Has everyone seen “The Wire”? You know that line, ‘You come at the king, you best not miss.” Indeed.

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Violence on streets of Old Anacostia [“Washington Letter,” Baltimore Sun, 1886]

I walk the streets, alleys, back-cuts, and lounge on the corners of Anacostia everyday, every hour, every minute. Tour an abandominium or two. Reports and the widely held perceptions of violence and criminality in Anacostia, as I see it and know it, are over-rated. But that perspective is relative. After some quiet, over in Barry Farm folks are getting slumped once again. Youngster are still bucking off shots late night in and around earshot of the 1400 block of W Street SE (formerly Jefferson Street), but this isn’t the late ’80s, 1995, or even the early 2000s (aughts).

Relatively speaking, if you’re not in “the game,” and/or wearing Foamposites, rocking a Helly Hansen coat, Anacostia is a small village where you can feel safe. But that’s the mindset of someone who knows the community and the history.

Murder and violence is nothing new to America, to our cities, or to the streets of Old Anacostia.

From the Baltimore Sun‘s “Letter from Washington,” 1886,

“Washington, June 17. – An inquest was held at the eighth precinct station this afternoon upon the body of Ernest Allen, who died this morning at Providence Hospital from a blow given last Tuesday night by John A. Owens, who keeps a grocery store at the village of Anacostia, on Nichols avenue. It appeared that a short time ago Owens was accused of violating the liquor license law, and Allen was a witness against him in the Police Court. This excited the anger of Owens, and when Allen was near Owen’s store last Tuesday a quarrel occurred, and Owens struck Allen in the head with a stone or a weight, and depressed his skull. He fell unconscious. Dr. Pyles, of Anacostia, paid him medical attention, and was then sent to Providence Hospital, where he lingered until this morning. The jury found in accordance with the facts.”

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Frederick Douglass National Historic Site wayfinding sign #2 _ 2200 block of MLK Jr. Ave SE

Take a trip down MLK…

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Frederick Douglass National Historic Site wayfinding sign #1 _ 16th & W Streets SE

Photo by John Muller

Throughout the old streets of Historic Anacostia are wayfinding signs for the former home of Frederick Douglass, now the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site at 1411 W Street SE (formerly Jefferson Street).

The sign at 16th & W Street SE is of particular interest because the Metropolitan Police Department monitors this corner with a crime camera. Many of the young people I’ve spoken with outside of the corner store allege up and down that the Frederick Douglass house is haunted.

More on this later…

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