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Duke Ellington's Washington DC DC History




DC History


At the dawn of the 20th century, before the Harlem Renaissance, Duke Ellington's Washington was the social and cultural capital of Black America. From 1900 to 1920, it was this country's largest African American community. Anchored by Howard University and federal government jobs, this community became a magnet for African American intellectuals and sent a stream of shining talents to the nation for generations. It developed a prosperous black middle class which forged a strong society of churches, newspapers, businesses and civic institutions. Its businesses were black owned and run; its buildings, designed, built and financed by blacks; its entertainment, by and for African Americans. This was a proud and elegant community that flourished despite, or perhaps even because, of Jim Crow, the oppressive segregation that forced blacks to create their own separate destiny.

Noted Black Washingtonians

Pearl Bailey, singer
Mary McLeod Bethune, civil rights advocate
Ed Brooke, US Senator
Louis N. Brown, musician
Sterling Brown, poet
Ralph Bunche, UN Secretary
Anna J. Cooper, author and educator
Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., US Army General
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., Four-Star US Air Force General
Dr. Charles Drew, developer of the blood bank
Frederick Douglass, aboitionist
Paul Laurence Dunbar, poet
Billy Eckstein, musician
Henry Grant, musician
Frederick Gregory, astronaut
Charles H. Houston, lawyer
Langston Hughes, poet
Georgia Douglas Johnson, writer
Sam Lacy, sports writer
Alain Locke, author
Thurgood Marshall, US Supreme Court Justice
Robert H. McNeill, photographer
Jelly Roll Morton, musician
Oliver "Doc" Perry, musician
Hough Price, President of the National Urban League
Addison Scurlock, photographer
Dr. Billy Taylor, musician
Mary Church Terrell, abolitionist
Carter Woodson, historian
Davey Yarborough, musician
  Shaw Neighborhood Landmarks

African American Civil War Memorial
Armstrong Manual Training High School
Ben's Chili Bowl
Bohemian Caverns
Dunbar High School
Ellington Mural
The Howard Theater
Howard University
Industrial Bank
Lincoln Theater and Colonnade
The Reeves Center
Remembering U Street Sidewalk Exhibit
Republic Gardens
State of the Union
True Reformers' Hall
12th Street YMCA
U Street/Cardozo Metro Station
The Whitelaw Hotel


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