Around Jonathan Street

November 20, 2009|By MADGE MILES

Black Achievers group visits Decatur slave house

The YMCA Black Achievers recently toured the Decatur House/Slave Quarters in Washington, D.C.

The historic house museum was completed in 1818 for a white naval hero, Stephen Decatur, and his wife, Susan. It was the first private residence on the President's Park, was the unofficial residence for secretaries of state from 1827 to 1833, and was continuously occupied by numerous slaves and servants. According to its Web site, "The slave quarters is not only an important component of the Decatur House site, but is also significant as one of only a few remaining examples of slave quarters in urban areas. Further, the structure is especially unique as preserved physical evidence that African-Americans were held in bondage in sight of the White House."

Deborah Phillips, program coordinator at the YMCA, recalls the guide informing the group that the permanent exhibit also tells the story of Charlotte and Aaron Dupy, an enslaved couple and their children who were owned by a famous U.S. representative, Henry Clay. She remembers him saying that the Dupys moved into the house in 1827, and while the main part of the house was very elegant, the slave quarters were drab and cramped, housing at least 15 people at a time.


"I decided to take this tour so the students could gain more knowledge about our ancestors and appreciate the struggles they endured," Phillips said. "Hopefully, the students will be inspired to achieve their goals. I really enjoyed the tour because as we moved through the house, viewing the contrast of living conditions, I could imagine how life was during that time period."

Fara Martin thought the trip was very educational and said that the group learned some history about some of the slaves. She recalls that slave Charlotte Dupy sued her owner, Henry Clay, for her freedom because her previous owner promised her freedom. She said Charlotte Dupy was eventually freed, as were her children.

"It was amazing to hear this could be possible, and amazing to be in a home with such history," Martin said.

The students also showed great interest in the stories shared by the tour guide.

"This experience has taught me a lot and showed the hardships that African-Americans endured," said Fatimah Smith.

"The tour was very educational and showed the slaves' lifestyles," said Deonna DeGross. "It has inspired me to learn more about my history."

Deaundra Boykin added: "The tour was a very educational experience, and I think every middle and high school student should have this experience. It showed me how the slaves had to live and I learned more about my ancestry."

If anyone is interested in joining Black Achievers, call Phillips at 301-739-3990, ext. 4239.

Blossom School event

The Blossom School of Etiquette invites you to its next graduation, which will be Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. at Hagerstown Presbyterian Church, 20 S. Prospect St.

Director Ladetra Robinson invites you to come out to support and congratulate the young ladies of Washington County. There will be a guest speaker and presentations by the students.

Light refreshments will be served immediately after the ceremony.

John Wesley AME hosting bazaar

John Wesley AME Church, at 129 N. Potomac Ave., is hosting a bazaar Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There will be handcrafted jewelry, baked goods and a table of "white elephant" items available, as well as videos and audio books.

Lunch will be served and some extra soup might be on sale. The "used book" store will be open.

The front of the church is handicapped-accessible and there is plenty of parking at the City Market lot, behind the church.

Call 301-733-2894 for more information.

Memorial service

Join Ebenezer AME Church, at 40 Bethel St., for its sixth annual memorial service on Sunday at 11 a.m. The service will feature a pictorial/musical DVD presentation.


Zion Baptist Church will celebrate its 111th anniversary Sunday at the 11 a.m. service.

The guest preacher will be Pastor D.S. President of St. Matthews First Baptist Church in Winnsboro, S.C.

A fellowship dinner will follow.

Movie night

Looking for something to do after Thanksgiving and tired of paying the price of a movie ticket?

Bridge of Life, at 14 S. Potomac St., has an alternative for you. On Saturday, Nov. 28, the movie "Star Trek" will be shown at 7 p.m. on a big projection screen with surround sound. The movie, popcorn and soda are free.

Shopping through history

Take a trip down memory lane on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Washington County Free Library's Central Library, 100 S. Potomac St.

John Damond of the Maryland State Library Resource Center, Enoch Pratt Free Library, will present "The History of Shopping through the Sears Catalog."

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