Posts Tagged DC Public Schools

A Note on the Sentiment of the Times: Frederick Douglass and George Washington from the Tuckahoe to Old Anacostia to Mount Vernon

A most profound Washingtonian of the 19th century walking the grounds of Mount Vernon seems redundant until you realize said man, of profoundness, was one Frederick Augustus Washington (Bailey) Douglass.

The Honorable Frederick Douglass, who visited Mount Vernon on several occasions, in a capacity that would satisfy both his public and private interests, is still relatively unknown outside of his promethean efforts as a leader of an international and American Abolitionist Movement.

Whereas you can find volume upon volume chronicling the Founding Fathers of America we have yet to turn our earnest attention to interpret the deeper legacies of our nation’s seminal forebears; Black American Patriots

In understanding what we inherit from our ancestors subsists a compelling sentiment of what Fredrick Douglass would have gleaned from his durable study and lifelong admiration of the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army as taught him by Black American Patriot Founding Fathers.

As has been said Frederick Douglass is to Black America what President George Washington is to America, ongoing dialogue with our communities supports this continuance of sentiment that Douglass manifested in his life. Those who would deny this sacred sentiment have either yet to explore this history or deem it and its truer implications insignificant.

The paucity of a scholastic understanding and collective wherewithal is not by chance, however; professional historians, government-supported historical organizations and institutions of higher learning across generations and geography have knowingly or unknowingly largely ignored the consequential relationships and interconnectedness of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass (1818 – 1895) to Founding Father George Washington (1732 – 1799).

The connections and associations are near infinite. On the Tuckahoe Frederick (Bailey) Douglass was initiated as a Washingtonian by patriotic Black veterans of the Continental Army who served, distinguishably, alongside General Washington and his officer corps.

Within the community of Old Anacostia, in the hilly terrain of Southeast Washington City, Mr. Douglass would discover himself acquainted with those who had been born at Mount Vernon. He knew intimately the yoke of bondage and in it the degrees of complexity to which the precarious relationship existed between the bonded and the bondsmen. Mr. Douglass would have “[imbibed] the prejudices” of his fellow Washingtonians.

In the District of Columbia these legacies, these grandchildren of Mount Vernon’s manumitted society were taught by members of the Douglass family, who served as night school teachers and principals of DC Public Schools. These young Washingtonians would often find themselves gamboling and playing baseball with their classmates, the Douglass grandchildren, on the grounds of Cedar Hill. 

The Washington family remains a respected family within Old Anacostia today due their continued leadership and contributions to the neighborhood and throughout Washington City. The Washington surname is recognized on each and every individual sign of the Old Anacostia Heritage Trail among community members who supported and contributed to the creation of the markers

Uncle Akelo Washington of Old Anacostia looks on as a camera crew from WETA interviews Mr. Ray out front of E’s store with a mural of Frederick Douglass facing 16th Street SE.

For more than 150 years Black Washingtons have been respected leaders within Old Anacostia, Barry Farm, Garfield, Good Hope and adjacent historic Freedmen communities of Washington, D.C. 

Across his public career Douglass often invoked the memory of Washington, as did other abolitionists of his era and those that preceded it. Douglass was raised into a tradition of spirited reverence for Black American Patriots whom Washington, Lafayette, and other officers from the prominent Shore families entrusted and accredited with their lives. 

In General Washington, Douglass would discover a coadjutor and proponent in his cause, and the cause of his four million enslaved brothers, sisters, cousins, mothers, fathers and grandparents; the cause to end the condition of enslavement in America.


A thorough textual-analysis and study of every public speech and interview Frederick Douglass delivered, every private and public correspondence, every anecdote, memory and reference of friends and associates has not yet been realized in publication nor contemplated by the American academy. 

Indigenous Douglassonian communities throughout this country need not your study. The history abides. Recorded oral collections within Old Anacostia today align with the historic record of Mr. Douglass and President Washington. 

No apologists are to be found within Old Anacostia today for the community’s loyalty to Mr. Douglass. As Mr. Douglass respected and claimed George Washington as one of his own, as does Old Anacostia. 

From the family of Coach Wanda Washington to the family of Uncle Akelo Washington, within the presence of the specters of Cedar Hill today live Black American Washingtonians, the genesis of their surname the Washington family of Virginia

The duality of American Patriotism is that American Patriotism is, and has always been, defined, shaped and determined by the patriotism of Black Americans. 

Generations before publication in 1903 of The Souls of Black Folks Douglass manifested this duality, and “double consciousness,” in his fidelity to Washington and an unwavering public recognition of the determinant role of the contributions of Black American patriots at every moment of every battle of the Revolutionary War, citing their prominence in founding this country’s freedom creed as equal to Washington, if not greater in humanity and sentiment. 

Therefore Black Americans, free, indentured and enslaved, who inhabited old settlements along the Tuckahoe Creek of Caroline and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore had an obligation to provide counsel on Washingtonian virtues in war and peace to a young Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey

This community of Black American citizen-soldier forgotten patriots of the Revolution told Betsy Bailey’s grandson the virtues of General Washington were his to inherit.

The astute and precocious young child born in enslavement was of the loyalty of Black Americans to Washington and the loyalty of Washington to Black Americans. Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was baptized in the muddy waters as a native son of Revolutionary Black American citizen-soldiers who held the virtues of Washington as their own.

George Washington and William Lee, John Trumbull (American, Lebanon, Connecticut 1756–1843 New York), Oil on canvas, American

General George Washington with aide-de-camp Honorable William “Billy” Lee” on horse. John Trumbull, 1780. Metropolitan Museum. Inside the main residence at Wye House a painting of Washington held a prominent place, as Douglass recalled later in life. Charles Wilson Peale painted several members of the Lloyd Family of Maryland, as well as Washington.

The courage and loyalty of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass to question the founding principles of his native soil throughout his entire public career across a half-century is a Washingtonian virtue.

Taught lessons of life and loyalty to community and family from his earliest recollections, the lifelong work of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass to return his opportunities to others of his race is definitively an African virtue, inscribed and carried in proverb and prophecy. 

Black Americans dual patriotism is uniquely a product of the historic intersection of a peoples with millenniums of African civilization, customs, cultures and values forged in battle for American Independence alongside General George Washington that has yet to be fully recognized and reconciled to this day. 

As the father figure of America, George Washington was an adopted father figure for Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey from his earliest recollections.

The oral tradition, and historic record, confirm the abiding commitment and contributions Douglass made to Washington City, specifically Freedmen communities east of the Anacostia River, where the Douglass family lived and actively participated in the betterment of civic life for more than a quarter-century. 

Addressing local churches, schools, citywide celebrations and speaking with folks on the corners, Frederick (Bailey) Douglass imparted his affinity and admiration for President Washington, and the Black American Revolutionary War Patriots who served their country alongside Washington, to a generation of future physicians, educators, entertainers, journalists, authors, soldiers, dramatists, lawyers, philanthropists, preachers, politicians, diplomats and Civil Rights activists who lived well into the 1950s and 1960s. 

As George Washington is a father of America, its founding and is an embodiment of national patriotism as Frederick (Bailey) Douglass is that nameless enslaved child who was reared at the foot of sable soldiers of the Continental Army to ignite reform across the country and Western World for peoples of African descent that continues to inspire Black and White American school children anew today. 

The defiantly militant agitation for Black America that was the life’s work of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass was inspired by many known, and many nameless and forgotten patriots. 

Throughout his life Douglass would invoke President Washington as an ode to Black American Patriots; a song to those who had sacrificed and bled for freedom, whose blood and bone were interred on the hallowed theaters of war of the American Revolution and did not see their liberation realized. 

Even today one could not speak to the legacy of America’s fight for sovereignty from the British without, in the same breath, mentioning both the courage of George Washington and the valor of the nation’s Black Defenders of America; it would be a disservice to the history of both.

As 2020 wanes we feel it our obligation and responsibility to speak on and to the sentiment of our times as Douglassonians and Washingtonians.

Sentimentality will not save us as a country but it may help us save us from ourselves. 

In an 1857 speech in New York City, delivered in response to the March ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Dred Scott v Sanford, Frederick Douglass invoked not just the memory of Washington but cited Washington’s redemptive sentiment; the redemptive sentiment on which this forsaken soil was founded. 

George Washington can never be claimed as a fanatic, or as the representative of fanatics.

The slaveholders impudently use his name for the base purpose of giving respectability to slavery. Yet, in a letter to Robert Morris, Washington uses this language — language which, at this day, would make him a terror of the slaveholders, and the natural representative of the Republican party.

“There is not a man living, who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see some plan- adopted for the abolition of slavery ; but there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, and that is by Legislative authority ; and this, as far as my suffrage will go, shall not be wanting.”

Washington only spoke the sentiment of his times.


Note, article & research registered with United States Copyright Office; Library of Congress.

Authorship: JHM & JLM

 

 

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Hurlbut-Walker Memorial Research Forum: CALL FOR PROPOSALS (Due April 30, 2019

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Hurlbut-Walker Memorial Research Forum: CALL FOR PROPOSALS


Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives is accepting proposals January 18 – April 30, 2019 for our annual summer research forum with the following objectives:

Honor the Life, Memory, and Contributions of Richard L. Hurlbut and James D. Walker.

Introduce and Engage the public with the Sumner Museum Collection.

Promote the work and valued research of individuals who have used the Sumner Archives as one of their major resources for a finished work; i.e. book, dissertation, film, community project, etc.

Facilitate lively discussion about the culture, history, and legacy of DC Public Education.

The summer forum will occur on the third Wednesday of each month, June-August from 6:30 – 9:00 PM. The forum is free and open to the public. 

Call for Proposals for the following research forum dates:
June 19, 2019
July 17, 2019
August 21, 2019


HOW TO SUBMIT:

If you are interested in being a featured speaker, please submit a summary of what you would like to present in under 200 words. Be specific when referencing the completed work or if the work is in-progress. This includes, but is not limited to book, film, dissertation, thesis, community project, oral history project, etc. Your selected presentation must include significant use of the Sumner Museum Collection as a resource. All submissions must include your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and professional/organizational affiliation. Please note which of the 3 dates you are available to present in order of preference.

For consideration, please e-mail your submission by C.O.B. April 30, 2019 to info.sumnerschool@dc.gov. Submissions will be reviewed within the week of May 1st and notifications will be sent out by May 15, 2019.

We look forward to another outstanding series!

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Thank you Sumner School Museum and Archives for hosting “Lost History of Frederick Douglass and DC Public Schools”

Image may contain: 1 personThe tradition, legacy and history of DC Public Schools is of national consequence. In the immediate years following the Civil War a citywide public school system was formalized and organized for “colored children.”

Dr. Frederick Douglass and the Douglass Family were steadfast supporters and advocates for the entirety of the school system from its teachers to its students to its administrators to its philanthropic benefactors to its supporters in the US House and US Senate.

Dr. Douglass, a former night school teacher in Baltimore, lectured to support night schools in Washington City. Charles Douglass, the youngest Douglass son, was a night school teacher in Old Barry Farm. Virginia Douglass, wife of Frederick Douglass, Jr., served as a principal in Old Anacostia.

The Douglassess supported DC Public Schools and were thusly integral in elevating DCPS in its importance both locally and nationally to the educational and social uplifting of African-Americans. The first African-American graduate of Harvard, the first four African-American women to obtain a doctorate and Carter G. Woodson are just some of those who either attended or educated within the DC Public School System. Haley George Douglass, the Harvard-educated grandson of Dr. Douglass, taught at Dunbar Senior High School for four decades.

We extend our sincerest appreciation for the work of Director Kimberly Springle of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives and for the opportunity to present on a topic of great personal interest.


Editor’s Note:

On the backroads of Sandy Spring are families and tribes who family lore tells of ancestors being taught be Emily Edmonson Johnson, a friend of Dr. Douglass and teacher at Miner Normal School. I attended school with the descendants of those taught by Mrs. E. Edmonson Johnson so therefore it is my obligation to uplift the fallen and lost history.

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Lost History of Dr. Frederick Douglass and DC Public Schools” -> Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives – February 16, 2019 @ 10:30 AM (17th & M Street NW – Downtown Washington, D.C.)

FD & DCPS _ Sumner Museum _ 2.16.2018

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2019 Hurlbut-Walker Memorial Research Forum: Call For Proposals (Due April 30, 2019)

Hurlbut-Walker Memorial Research Forum: CALL FOR PROPOSALS

Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives is accepting proposals January 18 – April 30, 2019 for our annual summer research forum with the following objectives:

Honor the Life, Memory, and Contributions of Richard L. Hurlbut and James D. Walker.

Introduce and Engage the public with the Sumner Museum Collection.
Promote the work and valued research of individuals who have used the Sumner Archives as one of their major resources for a finished work; i.e. book, dissertation, film, community project, etc.

Facilitate lively discussion about the culture, history, and legacy of DC Public Education.

The summer forum will occur on the third Wednesday of each month, June-August from 6:30-9:00pm. The forum is free and open to the public.

Call for Proposals for the following research forum dates:
June 19, 2019
July 17, 2019
August 21, 2019

HOW TO SUBMIT:
If you are interested in being a featured speaker, please submit a summary of what you would like to present in under 200 words. Be specific when referencing the completed work or if the work is in-progress. This includes, but is not limited to book, film, dissertation, thesis, community project, oral history project, etc. Your selected presentation must include significant use of the Sumner Museum Collection as a resource. All submissions must include your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and professional/organizational affiliation. Please note which of the 3 dates you are available to present in order of preference.

For consideration, please e-mail your submission by C.O.B. April 30, 2019 to info.sumnerschool@dc.gov.

Submissions will be reviewed within the week of May 1st and notifications will be sent out by May 15, 2019.

We look forward to another outstanding series!

,

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Did you know Dr. Frederick Douglass was appointed a “member of the District School Board”? I didn’t. (Rochester Union & Advertiser, August 1874)

UA Ag 28 1874 3-3 FD _ DC School board

Union and Advertiser, 28 August, 1874. Courtesy Local History and Genealogy Department of the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County.

During his life Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass lived many lives, visited many places, made many friends and contributed his time and influence to many associations, organizations and causes. There is much of Dr. Douglass and his life untold by any biographers, especially those who are “experts” in speculation, not interpretation or fact.

An area of scholarship untouched by modern scholars, buried deep within the Journal of Negro Education, is Dr. Douglass and Education. It is one of a dozen or so areas of scholarship that has remained at least three time zones beyond the attention of inquisitive and investigatory scholars. No longer.

On a recent trip to Rochester’s Central Library I reviewed microfilm rolls of local newspapers that have yet to be digitized. The tried and true method of cross-checking indexes has stood the test of time.

Brandon Fess and other staff of the Rochester Central library were very helpful in locating a number of news clips containing information never seen before in my six or so years of closely surveying the field of Douglass Studies.

One of the more interesting items discovered was a paragraph from a late August 1874 edition of the Union and Advertiser mentioning the appointment of Dr. Douglass to the DC Board of Education, which at that time maintained a segregated system for “white” students and “colored” students.

I can’t recall coming across this before or a similar item which documents the early involvement and activism of Dr. Douglass within the DC public school system. Many know Charles Douglass was a principal and/or night school instructor in Barry Farm.

I do not believe there is a living scholar, other than Kimberly Springle of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, who has attempted to look under this gigantic boulder of Douglass Studies.

Thanks to a tip from collaborative Douglassonian David Turk of the US Marshal Service I discovered Douglass was appointed, but did not formally accept, a position on the Board of Police Commissioners. I had not known about Douglass and the school board.

Now I know, as do you. There is much research to be done to uplift the history of Dr. Douglass.

To be continued …

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