Anacostia Community Museum Archives recently acquired two collections donated by Southeast Voices relating to the Frederick Douglass housing projects: Henry Bazemore Collection of Frederick Douglass Dwellings Photographs and the Frederick Douglass Dwellings Collection. The Douglass Dwellings were built in Southeast Washington, D.C., as World War II-era temporary housing for African American workers. Celebrated African American architect Hilyard R. Robinson designed the complex, and renowned photographer Gordon Parks documented the community for the Farm Security Administration.
Both collections contain photographs of social activities in the community sponsored by the local recreation center. Among the charming activities for the children were “Tom Thumb Weddings,” where children played the roles of bride, groom, minister, wedding party, and guest. Other activities documented in the collections are dance recitals, sporting events, hobby shows, and the annual soap box derby. The images challenge perceptions of life in public housing during the 1940s by illustrating the positive aspects of life in the projects.
This entry originally posted on the Smithsonian Collections Blog on Friday, April 23, 2010.
For our very first throwback, an installation shot of Black Mosaic: Community, Race, and Ethnicity among Black Immigrants in Washington, DC exhibition.
The exhibition explored the immigration of people of African descent from Central and South America and the Caribbean to the Washignton Metropolitan area. The show focused on several issues including: Identity; the African Diaspora in the Americas; memories of home; race and color at home; migration/immigration; music; and community life in Washington.
To view the exhibition and research records from this exhibition contact: ACMarchives@si.edu.
I am just back from over a week in the beautiful nation of Panama. It has been four years since I was last there and the changes are astounding (more on that in other posts).
I went with our photographer, Susana Raab, to do photo documentation for the upcoming exhibit Bridging the Americas. The framework for Bridging the Americas is the relationship between the nations of Panama and the United States. The Panama Canal and the former U.S. territory, The Panama Canal Zone, are literally and figuratively at the center of this bond.
One of the spaces I was most excited for Susana to document was the ascent at Cerro Ancon, or Ancon Hill.
Ancon Hill is the highest point in Panama City. It is home to lush vegetation and wildlife, provides spectacular views of Panama City and the Panama Canal, and has historical significance.
When the U.S. controlled the Panama Canal Zone (1903-1979/1999) multiple levels of U.S. authority existed in and around Cerro Ancon – political, medical, and military. The area held the residence of the U.S. Canal Zone Governor, the U.S. Gorgas Hospital, and also parts of U.S. Southern Command.
On my first journey to the summit in 2010, I was greeted in route by fellow hikers and the reclamation of public space via nationalist art. I loved them! It felt like the perfect visual goodbye gift on the final day of my research year in Panama.
Here are just a few of the many pictures I took on my ascent in 2010.
Four short/long years later, the hike up Cerro Ancon was much less colorful. Gone are the benches formerly painted with Panamanian symbols – ladies in polleras, the Bridge of the Americas, the Panamanian skyline, the gold frog.
Now the benches are a standard dismal gray. There are small remnants of color and nationalist symbols near the top of the hill like this one:
And though gray the benches, even on a cloud day in Panama City, the views of the city, the bridges, and the Panama Canal are still spectacular and well worth the hike!