The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington

The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington Nonprofit museum that focuses on African American history in Arlington Virginia
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Operating as usual

Remembering: Willard Woodson “Woody” Brittain JrWillard Woodson “Woody” Brittain Jr. was born in Washington DC, in 1947 ...
10/19/2020

Remembering: Willard Woodson “Woody” Brittain Jr

Willard Woodson “Woody” Brittain Jr. was born in Washington DC, in 1947 and raised in Arlington by working-class parents — Woody Sr., a World War II veteran, and Mary — who demanded that their children work hard in school and commit themselves to service in their church, Mount Olive Baptist.

Nothing was more important than family: Woody Brittain Jr. and his wife, Deborah, were married 42 years and have a daughter, Lindsey. The way they defined family, however, meant that anyone who entered their home would be treated like one of their own.

Brittain served on the boards of the Northern Virginia Urban League, the National Urban League and the YMCA of New York City, among many others. Not only did he donate generously to charities that provide educational opportunities, but he also gave untold thousands of dollars out of pocket to students who needed money to stay in college.

“Woody was a generous spirit personified,” said Ron Coley, an associate vice chancellor for student affairs at Berkeley and a longtime friend. “He was always focused on the betterment of others.”

With math as his favorite subject, Brittain graduated from Wakefield High in Arlington, Class of ’66, and became one of 28 black students in a freshman class of 1,000 at Yale. Although mild mannered and bookish as a boy, he became an Afro-wearing campus leader, helping to organize the Black Student Alliance and successfully agitate for the creation of the Afro-American Cultural Center.

In 2011, he received the Yale Medal, the university’s highest alumni award.

Brittain graduated from Yale in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in economics; two years later, he earned an MBA from Harvard. In 1983, at age 36, he became a partner at the financial services giant Price Waterhouse and was later appointed its chief operating officer. His reputation for strategic thinking would lead to directorships at five Fortune 500 companies before he retired to start his own leadership program for youth.

In the suites along Wall Street, Brittain may have been known by his proper name, Willard Woodson; but along the byways of his home town and beyond, he was still just Woody — quick-witted, down to earth and always ready to lend a helping hand.

“People who were radicals in college, then traded in their dashikis for three-piece suits, risked being called sellouts,” said Harold J. Logan, a businessman based in Atlanta who was an undergraduate at Harvard when Brittain was there working on his MBA. “No one could ever say that about Woody because he used so much of his gains from the corporate world to help others.”

Said Larry D. Bailey, a Washington native who was also a partner at Price waterhouse Coopers: “Woody’s great passion was figuring out ways for us to reach back and save at-risk black men and boys. When he talked about the epidemic of violence, the fatherless homes, the school dropouts, he’d tear up. While some of us were calling on black professional athletes to get involved, he was pushing CEOs and other leaders in corporate America to do their part.”

Brittain belonged to many civic organizations and social groups — including an informal klatch of guys who get together for a few days of tennis and golf a couple of times a year, which is how I met him more than a decade ago.

Thomas Parham, a vice chancellor at the University of California at Irvine, was among those from our group who frequently visited Brittain after he became ill.

“Even then, all he wanted to do was to make others feel comfortable,” Parham said. “His final lesson to us all was to never let misery have the last word.”

Through Brittain, we saw what makes for a purposeful life, starting with parents who instill a love of learning and community service in their children. You might say it was in his genes. If so, it ought to be in ours, too.

(Text By C. Malloy)

MRS. ALICE WEST FLEETBorn in 1909 in segregated Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Alice West was the daughter of a respected...
10/06/2020

MRS. ALICE WEST FLEET

Born in 1909 in segregated Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Alice West was the daughter of a respected stone mason and the granddaughter of slaves. Leveraging her father’s good standing, her parents sent her to the nearby Thyne Institute, a prestigious and historically significant Presbyterian boarding school for minorities. After graduation, she became a public-school teacher while at the same time earning a degree in elementary education from Virginia State College. In 1937 she married Edmond Fleet, a widower with three children, and moved to Arlington with her newly formed family.

Alice Fleet’s first Northern Virginia teaching job was in Fairfax County, according to research by the Arlington Commission on Women and Marymount University, but after two years she was hired as the reading teacher at Hoffman-Boston, which opened in 1915 as Arlington’s first junior high school for African Americans. (Located on South Queen Street, it is now Hoffman-Boston Elementary.) “Her students were so important to her,” remembers her stepdaughter Elora Brotherton, a former teacher at Arlington’s Drew Model School who holds a graduate degree from Columbia University and now lives in El Paso, Texas. “She really loved to teach”—even at a time when Arlington’s segregated school system left her with scant resources compared with neighboring white schools.

Fleet also loved to learn. She spent her summers continuing her own education, becoming one of the first black women to receive a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
On Feb. 2, 1959, Arlington’s Stratford Junior High on Vacation Lane (today it is H-B Woodlawn) became one of the initial schools in Virginia to desegregate. Soon other schools followed suit, and Fleet was assigned to Woodmont Elementary on North Fillmore Street (now a YMCA gymnastics center), becoming the first black teacher in the county to teach at a previously all-white school.
Fleet would serve as an Arlington County educator for 31 years, with additional posts at Drew Elementary (now Drew Model School) in Green Valley and Reed Elementary in Westover (which closed in 1984, but is slated to reopen as an elementary school in 2021). She retired from teaching in 1971, but not from civic life. A tireless advocate for equal rights in education, she served two terms on the Virginia State Commission on the Status of Women and was one of the first African Americans to join the American Association of University Women.

Fleet died in 2000. Her legacy will live on through an elementary school named in her honor in Arlington.

As we reach the end  of summer, its not to late to get into another good book or books!Here's a  look at some wonderful ...
08/14/2020

As we reach the end of summer, its not to late to get into another good book or books!

Here's a look at some wonderful books by local authors that can transport you to historical places and events in Arlington – without ever leaving home.

We will be virtually having Coffee & Conversation with Arlington Wednesday August 12, 2020.  To join the conversation, c...
08/11/2020

We will be virtually having Coffee & Conversation with Arlington Wednesday August 12, 2020.
To join the conversation, click the link below and follow the directions:

https://zoom.us/j/937426532

You also have the option to dial in by phone to participate without video. For that, dial: 929-205-6099. The meeting ID is 937 426 532.

The  decision to re-open our museum was undoubtedly a difficult one.  We are taking extreme  precautions to do so with e...
07/13/2020

The decision to re-open our museum was undoubtedly a difficult one. We are taking extreme precautions to do so with everyone’s health and safety in mind. We are adhering to the CDC and OSHA as well as local/state/federal government provided guidelines, orders and recommendations.

We are recommending that all visitors and staff wear a mask and keep 6 feet apart. We will have hand sanitizer on premises. No more than 5 visitors will be allowed in the museum at one time until further notice.

Private tours are available upon request
Our hours are Thursday's 3pm-6pm
Saturday's 1pm-4pm


BHMA would like to graciously thank all those who donate to us. These past weeks have not been easy . we could not have made it without you!

06/19/2020
06/09/2020
R e m e m b e r I n gOur founder, EVELYN SYPHAX, was a former Arlington elementary school teacher who served extensively...
06/04/2020

R e m e m b e r I n g

Our founder, EVELYN SYPHAX, was a former Arlington elementary school teacher who served extensively on a variety of elected and appointed boards for schools and civic and community organizations,.

With a background in education, she devoted much of her time to schools. Chiefly, she served in the early 1980s as chairman of the Arlington School Board and led a successful overhaul of the county's desegregation plan to reduce long bus rides for minority students.

Among the other causes she championed on the board was a program to provide mentoring and counseling to help underachieving children improve their communication skills.

Also in the 1980s, she served on the Virginia Advisory Council on Vocational Education and the Committee to Re-evaluate State Government. She was past president of the Northern Virginia Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, which she helped organize; past president of the Arlington Historical Society; and past chairman of the Northern Virginia United Negro College Fund.

Mrs. Syphax was known principally for her spirited volunteer work. She raised funds for the Arlington Cultural Arts Center and, in 1994, founded the Black Heritage Museum, which honors the history of African Americans in Arlington.

She also was a businesswoman who owned and served as director of the Early Childhood Development Center, a Montessori school in Arlington, from 1963 to 1987. For shorter periods of time, she ran a private residential center for senior citizens and owned a thrift shop.

She received many honors including 1981 Arlington Woman of the Year from the Interservice Club Council. In 1992, the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women honored her as a Notable Woman of Arlington.

Mrs. Syphax taught in the Arlington public schools in the 1950s, a decade when racial segregation was still the rule in the state's education system. She recalled that era for a Washington Post reporter in a 1996 story:

"The need to end racial separation was clear to her in many ways, starting with her class size of 39 students. 'All the books were discards from the white schools. All the black teachers were busy taping them up,' she said. 'The schools were practically crumbling around us in the black schools.' "

Arlington tried to integrate its schools quickly, but was ordered by the state to close its schools rather than integrate. A court ruling resulted in a victory for Arlington integration.

On Feb. 2, 1959, four black students entered Arlington's Stratford Junior High School, making it the first integrated public school in Virginia. Mrs. Syphax had taught all four of the students as their third-grade teacher at Langston Elementary School.

Mrs. Syphax, a longtime Arlington resident, was born in Lynchburg, Va., and graduated from Virginia Union University. She received a master's degree in early childhood education from New York University.

Mrs. Syphax died March 21, 2000

05/25/2020
The Passing of Honourable Frank Wilson comes as a shock. For almost a quarter of a century – from 1984 – 2009, Frank  Wi...
03/13/2020

The Passing of Honourable Frank Wilson comes as a shock.

For almost a quarter of a century – from 1984 – 2009, Frank Wilson became a tireless fighter for an environment in which all students would achieve.

An independent thinker, he was willing to cast his vote against the majority when necessary to support principles he believed in, bringing fundamental diversity of viewpoint to School Board deliberations and decisions.

The results were instrumental in creating Arlington's first all-day kindergarten, fostering achievement-oriented minority assistance programs, and helping establish the Claremont Early Childhood Center and Science Focus alternative schools.

Mr Wilson was not only the longest-serving member of the Arlington School Board, but a huge contributor to the community, which include volunteering in the PTAs of Glebe Elementary School, Williamsburg Middle School, and Washington-Lee High School; as president of the John M. Langston Citizens Association; and as a member of the Board of Directors of Arlington Hospital, and the Northern Virginia Hospice and a founding member of the Arlington African American Leadership Coalition .

Wilson’s contributions went outside Arlington. They extended to the Virginia School Boards Association, the National School Boards Associations and service on the governors commission on youth violence.

He was a husband and father of three. A leader in his church his community and a friend to many.
May he rest in peace

Black Heritage Museum of Arlington Virginia

We really enjoyed our visitors from The Arlington Career Center yesterday!!! Keep coming back!
03/03/2020

We really enjoyed our visitors from The Arlington Career Center yesterday!!! Keep coming back!

Dear Friends, Do you know about the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington located on Columbia Pike not far from the Freedma...
02/28/2020
Census 2020 - Topics

Dear Friends,

Do you know about the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington located on Columbia Pike not far from the Freedman’s Village Bridge? Do you know about Freedman’s Village?

Today at 3:30pm in honor of Black History Month, I am excited to have as my guest on the Philanthropy Matters radio show Scott Taylor, Executive Director of the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington! Scott will tell us about how the museum came about and some of the terrific exhibits of Africans Americans in the museum. The nonprofit Black Heritage Museum of Arlington was founded by the late Evelyn Syphax and provides a focal point exhibit on Arlington’s Freedman’s Village and contributions made by its residents and their descendants to local and national history. We will also talk about the historically black communities in Arlington.

The Philanthropy Matters radio show airs every Friday 3:30pm-4:00pm
Listen live on the radio at WERA 96.7FM or live online at www.wera.fm
Listen to our past podcasts anytime on www.mixcloud.com Search: Philanthropy Matters

Individuals, organizations and companies are all contributors to philanthropy! Thank you for listening and for your guest recommendations!

All the best,

Wanda

Wanda Pierce
Producer & Host of Philanthropy Matters on
Arlington Independent Media /WERA.fm 96.7fm

Information about the 2020 Census and why it's important to be counted.

Congrats to Joan Mulholand!!
01/21/2020

Congrats to Joan Mulholand!!

It is an honor to recognize Joan Mulholland, an American civil rights activist and a Freedom Rider from Arlington, Virginia. She was the first white to integrate Tougaloo College in Jackson Mississippi, and to be a part of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She was once held on death row in #ParchmanPenitentiary for her involvement with the Civil Rights Movement. #NANMLK2020

Remembering the dream!
01/20/2020

Remembering the dream!

12/21/2019
Reverend Richard Oscar Green , Sr.  Native Arlingtonian , Reverend Richard O. Green attended Northern Virginia and Distr...
10/22/2019

Reverend Richard Oscar Green , Sr.

Native Arlingtonian , Reverend Richard O. Green attended Northern Virginia and District of Columbia schools.. Green wanted to major in auto mechanics, but the curriculum was not offered at the all black Hoffman Boston High School..

Green's parents along with the NAACP fought vigorously to get him the education he desired. As a result, he was sent to Manassas Regional High School for The Colored that was founded by Jennie Dean. It was a long daily commute and Green never missed a day.

In 1950, after the continuation of a court fight, Green was enrolled in the all-white Washington -Lee high school of Arlington. A teacher was bought in from New York to instruct him only. Years later, Reverend Green became a teacher at Washington-Lee instructing Auto Mechanics.

08/28/2019
CBN News

Remembering Doc Muse

Virginia Pharmacist makes history! During the Jim Crow era, African Americans in Arlington weren't allowed to go inside the drug store to get their prescriptions. But after seeing how blacks were treated, Muse, nicknamed Doc Muse, and classmate Waverly W. Jones opened Green Valley Pharmacy. http://go.cbn.com/6866 #BlackHistoryMonth

Were down at the Arlington County Fair along with The Arlington Historical Society!! ... Stop by and say hello!!!
08/16/2019

Were down at the Arlington County Fair along with The Arlington Historical Society!! ... Stop by and say hello!!!

07/10/2019

Please visit... Please support!

Arlington Civil Rights and Community Activist: Mrs.Saundra GreenSandra Green, a native of Arlington Virginia, was raised...
06/27/2019

Arlington Civil Rights and Community Activist:
Mrs.Saundra Green

Sandra Green, a native of Arlington Virginia, was raised in the historic Highview Park/ Hall’s Hill neighborhood. She began her community work when the ‘War On Poverty’ programs were initiated by the Johnson administration in the 1960’s. Green witnessed first-hand the need for advocacy for the underprivileged. As a program organizer, she initiated food drives,organized teen clubs, trained individuals to become neighborhood block captains and provided information to residents to receive county services.

In 1973 Green was employed by the Arlington Parks and Recreation Department as Supervisor for Langston Brown Community Center. There, she initiated programs for all ages. One of her missions was to provide African American citizens the same opportunities that were available to other citizens in Arlington. She encouraged citizens to speak up against injustices. She founded The Arlington Youth Street Theatre, a summer program for the performing arts that received national recognition. She organized the first Junior Jamboree Program for teens in Arlington, she developed the first proposal for a skateboard park in Arlington, she organized the first Miss Black Teenage Pageant in Arlington and chaired the Arlington County Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for many years.

Green has also focused her efforts on preserving African-American history in Arlington. She is instrumental in creating a mural depicting significant events, places and people of the Hall’s Hill / High View Park neighborhood. She is also instrumental in creating a playground as a tribute to Arlington’s historical Fire Station #8. She is critical in the creation of the gateway into the Hall’s Hill /High View park community which features over 800 bricks with engraved names of many families and residents. She is also instrumental in getting the Hall’s Hill infamous“segregation wall” marked as a historical site.
In 2014 Saundra Green received the Willard
Brittain Community Appreciation Award from the NAACP.

Address

3108 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA
22204

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10:00 - 15:00
Thursday 15:00 - 18:00
Saturday 13:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(703) 271-8700

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The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington

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The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington was founded to celebrate the African American journey to freedom in Arlington County. At the heart of the BHMA mission is the story of Freedmen’s Village. To date, the museum board has commissioned a model of the village, which is now part of a cosponsored exhibit on slave’s life at Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Hello All! We invite you to register to participate in Revolution and Renewal - a virtual Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 20th. Join us in honoring African-American life, spirit, and culture with Center for Youth and Family Advocacy and Black Parents of Arlington.
Delegate Alfonso Lopez, Black Parents of Arlington and Yolande Kwinana will be hosting a vigil at Drew Model School Field, to honor those who have died at the hands of police. Speakers will enlighten the community on what they can do to help enact change in our Arlington. Please RSVP at the event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/262019725036709
my mother's baby black dolls she grew up in Virginia. 1 is complete the other is missing a leg and two arms they were handed down to her so they must be very old
#TEARDOWNTHISWALL2019!!...... PLEASE ARLINGTON COUNTY, VA!!!.... "NEVER FORGET WHY THIS WALL WAS BUILT IN THE FIRST PLACE!!...TO THE KEEP THE "N*****S...OUT!!... IT DID NOT WORK THEN!!!...AND IT "SURELY WON'T WORK NOW!...... HALL'S HILL/HIGH VIEW PARK ARLINGTON, VA IS OUR....'LEGACY"!!!...... IF THE WALL GOES BACK UP, YOU WILL CONTINUE THE PERPETRATE THE HATE, RACISM, PREJUDICE, AND BIGOTRY, THAT IS IN ALL "OUR" PAST!!!..... THANKS #GOVERNORNORTHAM!!!.....FOR YOUR "NEW LEADERSHIP IN VIRGINIA!!...THE COMMONWEALTH!!!... NATIVE, AFRICAN, LATINO, ASIAN AMERICANS,...AND ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR BUILT THIS COUNTRY.... ON THE 'BACKS OF FREE LABOR!!'' FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS!!!... THINK ABOUT IT!!..... WE WILL NEVER BE A "FOOTNOTE"...IN HISTORY!!..... #NEVERFORGET!!!.....TODAY THE WALL, NEXT RAMPANT POLICE VIOLENCE, NEXT CONTINUED MASS SHOOTINGS.....ETC., ETC. ETC.!!!!! "TIME TO PUT YOUR MONEY, WHERE OUR "TAXES" ARE!!!..... #VOTE2020!!!..... #FULFILLTHEDREAM!!!!..... #alllivesmatter!!.#itstime!!..#keeptheconversationsgoing!! #lovetrumpshate!! #oneheroatatime! STAY BLESSED, BY THE BEST!!" KEEP US POSTED!!! SMOOCHESS!!! BEST, [email protected],#starrchile33, Empower ME Networking,@starrchile33, Empower ME [email protected]_crook, @DenzelWashingt.....#donthatetalk #lovetrumpshate. #downwithhate #upwithhope @michelleobama @barrackobama #flotus44 #potus44 #whitehouse #fox5news #theview #oprah #tylerperry #peoplemagazine #ellendegeneres #steveharvey @Steve Harvey TV #gabifresh #plmuse #nbc4washingon #yolandaadams #GOTRI #shomaristone @PLMuse,@NBCWashington nbcgive #bethesdacares Montgomery County Police Department https://www.facebook.com/pages/Washington-Metro/116461105035583 CBS DC #joelosteen #hodakotb #nbctodayCBS DC #joelosteen #hodakotb #nbctoday #therocknewmanshow #drboycewatkins #howarduniversity #whut Governor of Virginia Arlington County Virginia – Government https://wjla.com/…/historic-wall-destroyed-by-arlington-flo… About this website WJLA.COM|BY ABC 7 NEWS - WJLA Historic segregation wall destroyed by Arlington flooding divides neighborhood Monday’s flood obliterated the brick wall in Laura Roger’s backyard. “My heart fell to my toes. I really felt sick to my stomach,” Rogers said. Bricks and concrete scattered across her garden, but the water also washed away part of history. During racial segregation in the 19... About this website WJLA.COM|BY ABC 7 NEWS - WJLA Historic segregation wall destroyed by Arlington flooding divides neighborhood Monday’s flood obliterated the brick wall in Laura Roger’s backyard. “My heart fell to my toes. I really felt sick to my stomach,” Rogers said. Bricks and concrete scattered across her garden, but the water also washed away part of history. During racial segregation in the 19...
Hi Scott, I was there last Saturday with Camilla and Mr Vollin