DC Heritage Trails: Worthy Ambition: Ledroit Park / Bloomingtom Heritage Trail:
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- TRLED_190920_07.JPG: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., leads the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Some of the signs were assembled at Mount Bethel Baptist Church. Front row from left to right: John Lewis, Matthew Ahmann, Floyd McKissick, Dr. King, Cleveland Robinson, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, Joseph Rah, Whitney Young, and Roy Wilkins.
- TRLED_190920_12.JPG: Worthy Ambition
LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail
11 Dividing Line
This busy stretch of Rhode Island Avenue was a racial dividing line even as DC became majority African American in 1957. "African Americans were not welcome on [the north] side of the street," commented Reverend Bobby Livingston years later, "unless you had a mop and a bucket in your hands." In 1958 Mount Bethel Baptist Church, a 1,500-member black congregation, purchased its church from a white Methodist congregation. Reverend Leamon White oversaw Mount Bethel's move from Second and V Streets. The civil rights activist had worked for desegregation in the early 1950s and in 1963 helped plan the March on Washington. Signs for the march were assembled in Mount Bethel Church.
Memories of discrimination during the 1940s and '50s remain for many neighbors. Across First Street, Rhode Island Pharmacy operated a whites-only soda fountain. Discrimination meant, however, that black-owned businesses thrived, including Johnson's pharmacy and Harrison's Café on Florida Avenue. Some white businesses welcomed all to sit and eat, including B. Ambrogi's at Third and Rhode Island, later B & J's Barbecue.
Like many DC neighborhoods, Bloomingdale experienced the civil disturbances following the 1968 assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Safeway near this corner was looted. In addition, "Rioters ... destroyed the inside of" Reservoir Market, recalled Barry Cohen of his family's store just north at First and U Streets. "It was like a bomb had gone off." The building survived only because the upstairs tenant held her baby as she yelled out the window, "Please don't burn us out! I have nowhere to go!"
- TRLED_190920_17.JPG: Rev. Leamon White (second from left) protested the segregation of DC's restaurants alongside Mary Church Terrell (center) in the 1950s.
- TRLED_190920_19.JPG: Rhode Island Avenue Methodist Church, photographed in 1910, was succeeded by Mount Bethel Baptist Church in 1958.
- TRLED_190920_22.JPG: Young Edward Taylor poses outside High's at 84 T St., around 1950.
- TRLED_190920_24.JPG: Bethel Baptist Church, a white congregation, occupied 215 Rhode Island Ave., until 1952, when Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church bought the building.
- TRLED_190920_27.JPG: Mt. Pleasant celebrates Rev. Robert Anderson.
- TRLED_190920_29.JPG: A lively evening at Harrison's Cafe at 455 Florida Ave., which served families and clubs. It also offered an after-hours club upstairs.
- TRLED_190920_32.JPG: During the segregation era (1880-1954), newspapers freely advertised on a racial basis. This ad from 1927 steered black buyers to houses south of Rhode Island Ave.
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