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

Striving for Equality

A Fitting Tribute

 

—Logan Circle Heritage Trail —

 
Striving for Equality Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
1. Striving for Equality Marker
Inscription.

This building was the headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women from 1943 to 1966. Political activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) founded NCNW in 1935 in her nearby apartment. She moved the organization here eight years later. The building, a National Historic Site, now houses a museum and archive of African American women's history. During the tenure of Dorothy Height, the Council's fourth president (1957-1998), NCNW moved to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

Trained as a teacher, Bethune founded a school for African American girls in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1904. (It eventually became Bethune-Cookman University.) Her advocacy work on behalf of women and children brought her national attention in the 1920s and led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to name her to the National Youth Administration in 1936. As a member of FDR's “Black Cabinet“ — prominent African Americans who helped ensure equal access to New Deal jobs, training, and economic assistance — Bethune promoted black federal employment. During World War II she successfully lobbied President Roosevelt to allow African Americans into the Women's Army Corps. And under her leadership the NCNW led blood drives and sold bonds to demonstrate support for U.S. war efforts.

Ironically, from 1908 until 2005,
Striving for Equality Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
2. Striving for Equality Marker
Confederate Memorial Hall including a veterans' retirement home, operated quietly in 1322 Vermont Avenue ,two doors down from the NCNW.

The unusually small house at 1341 Vermont Avenue predates the development of Logan Circle. Such modest structures dotted the landscape before Boss Shepherd's modernizations of the 1970s, which promoted construction of large, fashionable rowhouses.

Reverse:
The Logan Circle Neighborhood began with city boosters' dreams of greatness. The troops, cattle pens, and hubbub of the Civil War (1861-1865) had nearly ruined Washington, and when the fighting ended, Congress threatened to move the nation's capital elsewhere. So city leaders raced to repair and modernize the city. As paved streets, waster and gas lines, street lights, and sewers reached undeveloped areas, wealthy whites followed. Mansions soon sprang up around an elegant park where Vermont and Rhode Island Avenues met. The circle was named Iowa Circle, thanks to Iowa Senator William Boyd Allison. In 1901 a statue of Civil War General (and later Senator) John A. Logan, a founder of Memorial Day, replaced the park's central fountain. The circle took his name in 1930. The title of this Heritage Trail comes from General Logan's argument that Memorial Day would serve as "a fitting tribute to the memory of [the nation's] slain defenders."

As the
NCNW Meeting image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
3. NCNW Meeting
Mary McLeod Bethune, fifth form right, in a 1950 meeting of the National Council of Negro Women. President Dorothy Ferebee is sixth from right.
Close-up of photo on marker
city grew beyond Logan Circle, affluent African Americans gradually replaced whites here. Most of them moved on during World War II, and their mansions were divided into rooming houses to meet a wartime housing shortage. By the 1960s, with suburban Maryland and Virginia drawing investment, much of the neighborhood had decayed. When civil disturbances erupted after the 1968 assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it hit bottom. Ten years later, however, long-time residents, newcomers, and new city programs spurred revival. A Fitting Tribute: Logan Circle Heritage Trail takes you through the neighborhood's lofty and low times to introduce the array of individuals who shaped its modern vitality.
 
Erected 2012 by DC Cultural Heritage, Logan Circle Heritage Trail. (Marker Number 11 of 15.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Washington DC, Logan Circle Heritage Trail marker series.
 
Location. 38° 54.488′ N, 77° 1.834′ W. Marker is in Logan Circle, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Vermont Avenue Northwest when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1318 Vermont Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20005, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance
Mary McLeod Bethune<br> and the “Black Cabinet” image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
4. Mary McLeod Bethune
and the “Black Cabinet”
Mary McLeod Bethune served in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's “Black Cabinet” photographed in 1938. Among the members pictured here are Dr. Robert C. Weaver, later Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (front row, third from left), and Bethune, sixth from left..
Close-up of photo on marker
of this marker. Bethune Museum-Archives (within shouting distance of this marker); The Artistic Life (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); It Takes a Village (about 400 feet away); A Neighborhood Reborn (was about 500 feet away but has been reported missing. ); Logan Circle (about 600 feet away); When Logan Rode The Battle Line (about 600 feet away); John Logan House (about 600 feet away); No Braver Man Than John Logan (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Logan Circle.
 
Also see . . .  Tour Preview. Ranger Kimberly Brown gives you a sneak peak of what you will see when you visit the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House NHS. 5 minute video, NPS. (Submitted on January 18, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansCivil Rights
 
Organizing the U.N. image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
5. Organizing the U.N.
On behalf of the NAACP, W.E.B. Dubois left, Bethune, and Walter White attended meetings in San Francisco to organize the United Nations in 1945.
Close-up of photo on marker
Stuffing Envelopes image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
6. Stuffing Envelopes
Mary McLeod Bethune, seated, center, works alongside staffers of the National Council of Negro Women preparing a mailing at council House, 1947.
Close-up of photo on reverse of marker
Confederate Memorial Hall<br>Meeting Room image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
7. Confederate Memorial Hall
Meeting Room
The living room of Confederate Memorial Hall awaits members for a meeting, 1990.
Close-up of photo on marker
1341 Vermont Avenue image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
8. 1341 Vermont Avenue
Across the street, 1341 Vermont Ave. seen here in 1939, predates the modern landscape.
Close-up of photo on marker
Mary McLeod Bethune<br>Council House<br>National HIstoric Site image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
9. Mary McLeod Bethune
Council House
National HIstoric Site
1318 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
10. 1318
National Council
of
Negro Women
Bethune Museum-Archives image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
11. Bethune Museum-Archives

Mary McLeod Bethune “Council House”
National Historic Site
Designated October 15, 1982
by Act of Congress

Born on July 10, 1875, in Mayesville, South Carolina, Mary McLeod Bethune was the daughter of sharecroppers. After attending Scotia Seminary in North Carolina she founded Daytona School for Negro Girls which became Bethune-Cookman College. A leader in the black women's club movement, Mrs. Bethune became advisor to Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt.

During the administration of President Roosevelt, Mrs. Bethune served as special advisor on minority affairs and director of the division of Negro Affairs. In 1935 she founded the National Council of Negro Women, which united national black women's organizations to fight discrimination against black people and women. During the period of her greatest influence, Mary McLeod Bethune resided in this house, where she received political leaders and heads of state while working with black women leaders to advance the interests of black Americans. The site served as headquarters for the National Council of Negro Women until 1966. As the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial Museum and the National Archives for Black Women's History, the house continues Mrs. Bethune's dream to tell the story of black women in America.
1341 Vermont Ave image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
12. 1341 Vermont Ave
You Are Here<br>Logan Circle Heritage Trail image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
13. You Are Here
Logan Circle Heritage Trail
Close-up of Map on marker
Mary McLeod Bethune 1875-1955 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 16, 2015
14. Mary McLeod Bethune 1875-1955
This c. 1925 pastel portrait of Mary McLeod Bethune by Winold Reiss hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

“The fifteenth of seventeen children born to her formerly enslaved parents, Mary McLeod Bethune believed deeply in education as the main route out of poverty for herself and other African Americans. In 1904 she founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute—a school for black girls in Daytona, Florida. By 1929 that institution had blossomed into Bethune Cookman College. But perhaps Bethune's greatest impact came in the mid-1930s with her service as an adviser for the New Deal's National Youth Administration, which had been established to aid the jobless youth of the Depression. She used her position as a platform to become a powerful voice against racial discrimination throughout the federal government. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an order in 1941 requiring equal consideration for African Americans seeking jobs in the government and in the nation's defense industries, there was little doubt that Bethune's lobbying had played a major rote in bringing it about.” — National Portrait Gallery
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 9, 2018. This page originally submitted on January 18, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 412 times since then and 22 times this year. Last updated on December 2, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. submitted on January 18, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   14. submitted on April 2, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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