Black Empowerment And U Street Essay

Black Empowerment And U Street Essay

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Black empowerment and U Street are synonymous. U Street is a neighborhood located in Washington D.C. that was settled by freed slaves after the civil war. From then on until recently, it was a hub for black excellence. During the time of heavy segregation, blacks of all income levels were pushed into U Street. Therefore, a lot of black intellectuals, architects, artists, poets, and musicians found themselves living in the area initiating a Black Cultural Renaissance, and earning the name “Black Broadway.” The neighborhood was home to Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey, Billie Holiday and many other artists. It was also home to the people that would lay the foundation for modern civil rights movements such as Thurgood Marshall, Langston Hughes, Charles Hamilton Houston and Dr. Charles Drew.
Having known this information before venturing into U Street, I was excited for the awe I thought I would come under while walking in a place so rich in culture and history of empowering the black residents of its community. I hopped off the metro and started my tour by gazing at the Lincoln Theater. The Lincoln Theater served the black community when segregation kept them out venues. It was known as the center of “Washington’s Black Broadway”(Cultural Tourism DC). Many black musicians and poets played within this building. One of the most memorable jazz musicians, the great Duke Ellington, whose success opened up classical music venues to other black musicians, played in this very venue. Duke was very passionate about black empowerment and his dream was to create a musical with an entirely black cast, and so he did and it was called “Saturday Laughter,” but it was never picked up because of its completely black cast (...

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...uses and became centers for drug trafficking. There was frequent gunfire to such an extent, that at construction sites trenches were built in order for workers to avoid gunfire as described by Harrison Square Land Development manager Billy Smith, “The violence was pretty bad back then. At least once a week there would be gunfire, and our construction crew would dive into the trenches that were being built as a water inlet for the project. The gunfire was so frequent that diving into the trenches became a weekly routine. To shield ourselves from the bullets, we built a large mountain of dirt between the project and the street and an armed security guard was hired to patrol the site 24 hours a day.” (Frank Ruta,) meaning that even in broad daylight crime was extremely prevalent. However, this all changed when gentrification started making its way into the neighborhood.

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