Reaching for Equality

Reaching for Equality (HMIG0)

Location: Washington, DC 20001
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 54.354', W 77° 1.309'

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Midcity at the Crossroads

— Shaw Heritage Trail —

For much of the 1900s, inexpensive entertainments lined much of Seventh and Ninth Streets, from D to U Streets. Vaudeville houses, pool halls, record shops and taverns made for a busy night life. And everyone went to the movies. Two small theaters once operated on this block, the Alamo at 1203 and the Mid City (1223). Seventh Street also boasted the Happyland (1220), Gem (1131), and Broadway (1515), with the Raphael nearby at 1401 Ninth.

Until 1953, Washington's movie houses were segregated by theaters or entire theaters. By 1927, five of the city's 13 "Colored" theaters were found near here. Some were White-owned. Others were not, such as the Mid City owned by African American vaudeville star Sherman H. Dudley.

The Washington Bee newspaper, a booster of Black-owned businesses, encouraged boycotts of White-owned theaters. In 1910 the Bee targeted the Happyland, which divided its auditorium with a low partition. Theater historian Robert Headley noted that children often hurled hard candy at each other over the wall. As late as 1937, the Gem had its partition.

In summer 1919 a race riot came to this area. That summer, racial disturbances were sweeping U.S. cities. Heroic Black veterans of World War I's battles for freedom had come home demanding new respect and began organizing for civil rights. Their actions threatened some White D.C. residents. In July an incident in Southwest sparked White mobs that rampaged through Black neighborhoods. In turn, armed Black men defended their communities. Over five days, more than 30 Black and White residents were killed and hundreds were injured.
HM NumberHMIG0
Marker Number12 of 17
Placed ByCultural Tourism DC
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 at 12:38pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 324687 N 4308277
Decimal Degrees38.90590000, -77.02181667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 54.354', W 77° 1.309'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 54' 21.24" N, 77° 1' 18.54" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)202, 703
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1201-1243 7th St NW, Washington DC 20001, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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