Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Anacostia in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Birney School

An East-of-the River View

 

—Anacostia Heritage Trail —

 
Birney School Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
1. Birney School Marker
Inscription. The Handsome Italian Renaissance Building. across the street opened as James G. Birney Elementary School in 1901. Its wood-frame predecessor, the original 1889 Birney School, was the first school built with public funds for African American children in Anacostia and Hillsdale. Even though Congress had created a public school system for the District's black children in 1862, it was slow to develop, especially in rural areas.

Education occurred regardless. Before 1889, African American children here attended the Hillsdale School, which was sponsored by the Freedmen's Bureau and built by Barry Farm residents in 1871. And before that, children attended privately run schools, including the Mount Zion School (later the Howard School) on Douglass Road.

When a third Birney School opened at 2501 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in 1950, students filled their wagons with supplies and moved them from the old classrooms to the new. This building briefly housed the first junior high for African Americans this side of the river. At the same time, the new Sousa Junior High for white children opened on Ely Place, SE. When black children tried to enroll there, Sousa became the center of Bolling v. Sharpe, a lawsuit that ultimately became part of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that desegregated
Birney School Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
2. Birney School Marker
public schools nationwide.

Until Anacostia Junior-Senior High School opened at 16th and R Streets, SE, in 1935, white Anacostia teenagers attended schools across the river. African American children continued to cross the river for high school until schools were desegregated in 1954 and Anacostia High School admitted all.
 
Erected by Anacostia Heritage Trail. (Marker Number 8.)
 
Location. 38° 51.722′ N, 76° 59.598′ W. Marker is in Anacostia, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Martin Luther King Jr Ave Southeast, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20020, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Nichols Avenue Elementary School/Old Birney School Site (within shouting distance of this marker); A Museum for the Community (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); A Navy Town (about 400 feet away); Faith and Action (about 400 feet away); Barry Farm - Hillsdale (about 500 feet away); Crossing Lines (approx. 0.2 miles away); Campbell African Methodist Episcopal Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Hillsdale (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Anacostia.
 
Categories. African AmericansEducationNotable Buildings
 
Howard Road, 1951 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
3. Howard Road, 1951
These stores and houses on the right in this 1951 view of Howard Rd. were razed for Birney School's playground.
Close-up of photo on marker
Dr. Charles Qualls image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
4. Dr. Charles Qualls
Close-up of photo on marker
Dr. Qualls's Pharmacy image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
5. Dr. Qualls's Pharmacy
Dr. Charles Qualls operated a pharmacy next door to Birney until the city took the property in 1966 to enlarge the school.
Close-up of photo on marker
James G. Birney image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
6. James G. Birney
The Birney School honored James Gillespie Birney (1792-1857), a Kentucky slaveholder-turned-abolitionist who published an Ohio anti-slavery newspaper.
N. Currier Handpainted Lithograph
Birney School Students, 1910 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
7. Birney School Students, 1910
Close-up of photo on marker
Glen Echo Special Car image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
8. Glen Echo Special Car
The Old Birney School is visible at left in this 1920s photo of Barry Farm residents headed to Glen Echo in suburban Maryland.
Close-up of photo on marker
Nicholas Avenue Elementary School image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
9. Nicholas Avenue Elementary School
In 1972 Nichols Avenue(formerly Birney) Elementary School was saved from demolition by Mildred Butler, Shirley Coleman, Octavia Lee, Lolly Mae Newton, Nancy Choice, LaSandia Folks,and Helen Suber.
Close-up of photo on marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 23, 2017. This page originally submitted on December 29, 2016, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 430 times since then and 256 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on December 29, 2016, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   7, 8, 9. submitted on December 30, 2016, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement