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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Shaw in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Strong Families and Eminent Citizens

City Within a City

 

—Greater U Street Heritage Trail —

 
Strong Families and Eminent Citizens Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 22, 2011
1. Strong Families and Eminent Citizens Marker
Inscription.
The fine rowhouses in this part of the Shaw neighborhood, such as those on this street, were once home to many of the community’s old families and most distinguished citizens.

Charles Hamilton Houston, a national leader in civil rights, was born one block south of here in the 1400 block of Swann Street. A prominent African American lawyer and Howard University professor, he worked with his most famous student, the future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, to develop the arguments that would end legal segregation in America. Marshall, who used these arguments to win the famous 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case, credited Houston with laying the groundwork for the modern civil rights movement.

The red-brick corner house at 1461 S Street, two blocks south of here, was home to the African American poet Georgia Douglas Johnson, a writer associated with the flowering of African American literature and art in the 1920s known as the New Negro (or Harlem) Renaissance. Every Saturday night Johnson opened her home to artists and writers, making it the heart of the Renaissance in Washington. Among her guests were writer Jean Toomer (author of Cane), the poet Langston Hughes, and Howard University professor Alain Locke, who first named and defined the Renaissance in his 1925 book, The
Strong Families and Eminent Citizens Marker - photo on reverse image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 22, 2011
2. Strong Families and Eminent Citizens Marker - photo on reverse
Dr. Albert and Grace Ridgeley and family, photographed by Addison Scurlock in 1913. Grace Ridgeley Drew.
New Negro
.

This was also a neighborhood of strong families, many of whom had been in Washington for generations. Some traced their ancestry back to the city’s large pre-Civil War free Black population. Noted African American photographer Addison Scurlock took their portraits and recorded their rites of passage on film – births, graduations, debutante parties, and weddings. His presence in the community was so strong that a local wag once said, “If he didn’t photograph your wedding, you weren’t married.”

[Picture Captions:]

Charles Hamilton Houston (Moreland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University)

Alain Locke, below, and author Jean Toomer (Moreland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University) frequented the salons at the home of Georgia Douglas Johnson, top.

Dr. Albert and Grace Ridgeley and family, photographed by Addison Scurlock in 1915, above, and two Ridgeley girls, right, photographed a few years later. (Grace Ridgeley Drew)

Business card for The Scurlock Studio (Henry R. Whitehead Collection)

Book cover for Cane by Jean Toomer
 
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 10 of 14.)
 
Location. 38° 54.937′ N, 77° 2.085′ W. Marker is in Shaw
Strong Families and Eminent Citizens Marker reverse image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 28, 2016
3. Strong Families and Eminent Citizens Marker reverse
, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on T Street, NW west of 15th Street, NW when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20009, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. John Wesley Cromwell Residence (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); This section of 15th St. (about 500 feet away); A Shared Neighborhood (about 500 feet away); Georgia Douglas Johnson Residence (about 600 feet away); Todd Duncan Residence (about 600 feet away); Paul Laurence Dunbar Apartments (about 700 feet away); A Magic Place (approx. 0.2 miles away); Saint Augustine Roman Catholic Church (approx. 0.2 miles away).
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Categories. African AmericansCivil RightsNotable PersonsNotable Places
 
Strong Families and Eminent Citizens Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 28, 2016
4. Strong Families and Eminent Citizens Marker
A view of the marker looking east down T Street.
Strong Families and Eminent Citizens Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 28, 2016
5. Strong Families and Eminent Citizens Marker
This view is looking west on T Street, with some row houses in the distance.
The childhood home of Charles Hamilton Houston, at 1444 Swann Street, NW. image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 28, 2016
6. The childhood home of Charles Hamilton Houston, at 1444 Swann Street, NW.
Interestingly, the house is not numbered, however it is between 1442 and 1446 on Swann Street.
The Georgia Douglas Johnson Residence at 1461 S Street, NW. image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 28, 2016
7. The Georgia Douglas Johnson Residence at 1461 S Street, NW.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 578 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on , by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on July 29, 2016.
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