Four Free Women: 1916 Emancipation Reunion

Annie Parrum, Anna Angales, Elizabeth Berkeley and Sadie Thompson–all older than 100–at a 1916 Emancipation reunion (Harris & Ewing Collection/Library of Congress)

I couldn’t stop staring at this photo. Four elderly black women, “all older than 100, at a convention in the District in 1916,” said the caption in last Friday’s Washington Post.

Hoping to learn more about them, I logged on to the Root DC’s page of the  Post’s website. Instead I found only an image of Abraham Lincoln in the Emancipation Day article about the April 1862 legislation that freed 3,128 of the District’s enslaved citizens.

Within a few minutes of online research, though, I discovered two more photos taken on the same day in 1916 by Harris & Ewing at an Emancipation reunion.  As the official White House photographers of the early 1900s and then the nation’s largest photo news service, they rarely snapped shots of African Americans. (more…)

Happy July 4th: Celebrating ALL of America’s Forefathers and Foremothers

July 4, 2011 Washington, DC

To be in Washington, DC on July 4th–and to be surrounded by the monuments and documents of American government–is to be at the center of the nation’s commemoration of the 1776 Declaration of Independence. Today we celebrate with parades and picnics, but 235 years ago the colonists were serious–and not particularly festive–as they presented their grievances against the tyranny of the King of England.

3rd U.S. Infantry “The Old Guard” Fife and Drum at the National Archives, July 4, 2011

I heard the first fireworks in my neighborhood two nights ago and have been eating barbecue and hot dogs all weekend. I love a parade and I admit I am sentimental for the kind of patriotism that celebrates World War II veterans like my dad and embraces recent immigrants who still believe in the American dream.

Young vendors

But to be black and a woman complicates the day. (more…)