In 1946, Washington, DC was on the precipice of a Civil Rights movement. One of the first tests of the city’s shifting beliefs came with the opening of the George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium and its use for commercial theater performances. The first play put on at the theater, Joan of Lorraine, turned out to be a experiment in the continuance of race-based discrimination policies. Was the swift public backlash to the segregation enforced by GW enough to tear down the artificial barriers between black and white Washingtonians at Lisner?
In 1948, Black journalist Alice Dunnigan put the first of many accomplishments under her belt when she became the first Black female reporter to join the White House press pool and the first Black reporter to go on a campaign trip with a president. Doubted by many reporters due to her gender and race, Dunnigan had to fight for even a smidgeon of the recognition that her male journalist colleagues got, though it never stopped her from doing what she loved.
If you think you know why Georgetown doesn't have a Metro stop, think again! Though many believe it is the outcome of neighborhood resistance, in reality it has much more to do with geography, geology, expense, and WMATA's original vision for Metro as a commuter rail. The origins of the Georgetown Metro myth are just as interesting as the debunking of the myth.
On May 15, 1918, Lt. George Boyle took off from Potomac Park as the inaugural flight in the United States’ first continuous airmail service. However, hours later, Boyle was climbing out of a crash-landed plane in Waldorf, MD, miles away from his intended destination. But Boyle wasn’t entirely to blame for the airmail’s rocky start – or was he?
In an imposing brick building at 235 2nd Street, NE on Capitol Hill, time stands still. It is home to over 70 young people living, working, and learning in Washington. This is Thompson-Markward Hall, a boarding house that has been a home for young women in Washington since 1833. But its residents haven’t always been elite graduate students or ladder-climbing interns. Women’s work in Washington has changed dramatically since the 1800s, but Thompson-Markward Hall has remained a necessity.
Activist Hugo Deffner came to Washington in 1957 to accept an award for his work in promoting accessible architecture. However, he discovered a city entirely inaccessible to wheelchair users and other disabled people. Over the following decades, a combination of tireless activism and legislation transformed Washington into one of the most accessible cities in America.
In June 1981, Black Deaf leaders gathered in Washington to sew the seeds of an organization that would have a profound impact on the Black Deaf community. After centuries of exclusion in both Black and Deaf spaces, organizers came together to make a space of their own. With goals to educate, empower, and strengthen the community, this conference led a call for Black inclusion and leadership in Deaf organizations locally and nationally.
Military leadership, including President Lincoln, saw the potential of military balloons, and the public believed they would change the landscape of the Civil War, aiding the Union’s eventual success. Only two years later though, what would be known as the “Balloon Corps” would be dissolved. So, what ended the use of this promising and successful aerial endeavor?
When Japanese immigrant Kojiro Inoue first moved to the Washington area in 1971, D.C. had some Japanese restaurants but couldn’t boast of any that offered sushi. It was for good reason—hardly anyone seemed interested in the idea of eating raw fish. “Sushi wasn’t popular,” explained Inoue to The Washington Post years later. So when Inoue decided to start a small sushi bar within Sakura Place, a Japanese restaurant in Silver Spring, the endeavor wasn’t without its risks. However, Inoue saw potential.
In the 1960s, Arthur Ashe paid a visit to inner-city Washington to participate in a “block party” tennis demonstration. The experience left a lasting impact on him. He would return to Washington and, with the help of friends, create a professional tournament in D.C. which would make the sport more accessible to inner-city African Americans.