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Nonprofit museum that focuses on African American history in Arlington Virginia
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Arlington Civil Rights and Community Activist:
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.
Queen City was once a thriving African American neighborhood in Arlington complete with its own fire department.
The original residents of Queen City were descendents of the residents of Freedman’s Village, which had been established by the federal government during the Civil War as a home for displaced/freed slaves. A tightly knit African American community, Queen City was particularly focused on providing education for its children and was described by George Vollin, a former resident, as “a real happy, solid community.”
The neighborhood eventually disappeared when residents were displaced in 1941 as construction on the Pentagon and surrounding roads began:
“Queen City was not razed for the Pentagon building, but the overall Pentagon project. In order to accommodate the large number of individuals who would be commuting to and parking at the Pentagon on a daily basis, extensive accommodations had to be made for the automobile.
The cloverleaf highway structure, which the Columbia Pike feeds into and is found to the west of the Pentagon, remains the exact location of Queen City. Therefore, Queen City was destroyed for Pentagon’s needed transportation corridor, which eventually would come to include over thirty miles of highways and ramps, including twenty-one overpasses.”
Come to the Black Heritage Museum to see more historical images of the neighborhood
On June 15, we celebrated Founder’s Day!
Our founder, Mrs.Evelyn Reid 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
We had a great visit from Arlington Tech School’s ACC Sister Circle. Young ladies encouraging each other in the tech field. We enjoyed you!
Back to Green Valley?
Confederate names have been stripped from schools and roads, and now an Arlington County neighborhood gets preliminary approval to get rid of a Confederate name.
Please be sure to join us!!
Thanks to legendary Activist JOAN MULHOLLAND for an intriguing and enlightening speaking event at Marymount University. She spoke about the sit-ins and other groundbreaking protests she was apart of including Dr. Martin Luther Kings March on Washington.
We had a great round table discussion last night last night with reps from Amazon, Arlington Community Fund , The ArlingtonCommonwealth’s Attorney’s office. and community leaders...Very enlightening and and informative!
The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington and the Marymount University Department of History & Politics Present:
An Evening With Civil Rights Activist
Joan Trumpauer Mulholland is an American civil rights activist and a Freedom Rider from Arlington VA. She is known for taking part in sit-ins, being the first white to integrate Tougaloo College in Jackson Mississippi, joining the Delta Sigma Theta, joining Freedom Rides;,and being held on death row in Parchman Penitentiary.
*Come out and here her compelling story live!
PLEASE JOIN US!
Free to the public
Tuesday April 30, 2019 @7pm
Reinsch Library Auditorium, Marymount University
2807 N. Glebe Road , Arlington, Virginia 22207
Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey Joins Black Heritage Museum of Arlington Board of Trustees
Arlington, VA – The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington (BHMA) announced today that Christian Dorsey, Chair of the Arlington County Board, will be joining BHMA’s Board, effective April 15, 2019.
BHMA was founded by the late Evelyn Syphax nearly two decades ago to acknowledge the contributions and history of African Americans in the county from slavery to present times. The museum is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, and scientific purposes, to acquire, preserve, catalogue and display historic items relevant to the black history of Arlington County and Northern Virginia. Formerly a “museum without walls”, BHMA is now located at 3108 Columbia Pike in Arlington.
Statement from Christian Dorsey, Arlington County Board Chair:
“The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington is a critical cornerstone of Arlington’s history. With 2019 being the 400th anniversary of Africans arriving in bondage to Virginia’s shores, I cannot think of a better way to recognize this historic time by working to expand and build upon the work of BHMA”.
“We are pleased and honored to have Chairman Dorsey as a member of the BHMA board, said Scott Taylor, BHMA President. His long record of community service and engagement, not to mention his service on the County Board. He will be great asset to us"
The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington celebrates the African American Journey to Freedom, providing a focal point exhibit on Arlington’s Freedman’s Village and contributions made by its residents and their descendants to local and national history.
Honoring the 107th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment
Fort Corcoran was a wood-and-earthwork fortification constructed by the Union Army in northern Virginia as part of the defenses of Washington, D.C.. during the American Civil War. Built in 1861, shortly after the occupation of Arlington by Union forces, it protected the southern end of the Aqueduct Bridge and overlooked the Potomac River and Theodore Roosevelt Island known as Mason's Island.
The fort was named after Colonel Michael Corcoran, commander of the U.S. Fighting 69th Infantry, Irish Brigade 69th New York Volunteer Regiment, one of the units that constructed the fort.
Fort Corcoran was home to the Union Army Balloon Corps and the headquarters of the defenses of Washington south of the Potomac River, and served throughout the war before being dismantled in 1866. Today, no trace of the fort remains, although the Arlington County government has erected a historical marker at its site.
This view (pictured above) of the defenses of the Washington, D. C./ Rosslyn VA area shows a group of twenty African American soldiers with musical instruments. Blacks served in various capacities in the Union army. At first Union leaders allowed no black men to be commissioned officers, but eventually they served as noncommissioned officers, doctors, and chaplains. The first African American field officer was Major Martin Delany.
Freed blacks served in various capacities in the Union army, including in various bands. The 107th Regiment Infantry was first organized in Louisville, Kentucky and they participated in the siege of Petersburg, the first and second expeditions to Fort Fisher, the capture of Wilmington, the occupation of Raleigh, the surrender of Johnston, and several other smaller battles and skirmishes.
We had a great round table discussion with congressman Don Beyer last week. Thanks to all the leaders that showed up as well!
In 1957, Alfred Clark become the first African American Fire Captain in Arlington County, serving at Fire Station No. 8.
When the station later became integrated in the 1960s, some white firefighters said they “would not serve under a ‘Ni…’ and even wrote it on the chalkboard. The battalion chief came up, ordered it removed, and told the white firefighters they will serve and respect Captain Clark.”
Mr. Clark's commitment to excellence as Captain made him a very visible and a reputable citizen in the Hall's Hill Community until his death.
Thanks to all that came out last night for the Frederick Douglass reenactment!!
Freedman’s Village is discussed by BHMA Board member, Craig Syphax!!
Before Arlington National Cemetery became the final resting place for thousands of our brave service members, it was once a thriving freed-slaves community that emulated throughout the south.
We look forward to your visit!
On February 2, 1959 four African American students entered Stratford Junior High School up until then only whites could attend the school. This event made Stratford the first public school to integrate in the state of Virginia
The infamous Halls Hill Wall
As we talk about walls, we don’t have to look far to see what they symbolize.
The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington Board Announces Death of Board Member Hezron Williams
The gate of heaven was opened today, January 2, 2019 at 1:42 pm and Hezron Williams answered God’s call.
It is with heavy hearts that The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington announces the death of Hezron who has been instrumental to our Board up until our last event that was held on Dec 5th, 2018.
More information will be provided as it becomes available for the funeral service.
Our sincere condolences to family and friends.
On behalf of The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington, we wish to express our sincere appreciation for his support and hard work.
I’m delighted to share with you the Arlington School Board’s decision to rename Stratford Jr. High school, Dorothy Hamm Middle School. The decision was based on the ensuring and making students, and other Arlington residents, know and understand the intense challenges faced by members of our community during the Civil Rights Movement, and the courage and determination that many displayed in fighting to ensure equity and excellence for students here in Arlington.
Ms. Hamm exemplifies the characteristics that moved us forward as a community – and learning about her work, passion, and commitment will provide an amazing entry point for students to consider what actions they might take in the face of adversity and in pursuit of what they believe is right.
The legacy of the four students who integrated Stratford Jr. High will also be celebrated – through the artistic representations and commemorative displays that will be a part of our daily lives. As well – in early February of every year this school community will come together to recognize the amazing bravery of the four: reviewing the past and envisioning a future in which everyone acts with courage, integrity and caring.
Congrats to the Hamm family!
Remembering Distinguished Arlington Architect:
EDWARD LESLIE HAMM Sr.
Edward Leslie Hamm Sr. was a distinguished architect and civil rights activist . Before moving to Arlington, Mr. Hamm was born in Newport News, Virginia.
A graduate of Huntington High School, Leslie Hamm was employed during the summers at the shipyard where he worked on building the aircraft carrier "Enterprise". He graduated from Hampton Institute (University) in 1940 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Building Construction, a subject which he taught while working at Manassas (Industrial) Regional High School for two years.
Hamm served in the army Quartermaster Training Regiment where he reached the rank of Corporal. From 1946 to 1960 he worked as a Draftsman, Job Captain, Chief Draftsman, and Office Manager for private architectural firms R.C. Archer & Associates, and Mills, Petticord & Mills, both located in Washington, DC. .
During the Civil Rights Movement, both Leslie and his wife Dorothy became avid activists working tirelessly to secure equal rights and a quality education for their children. As a result they were both named as plaintiffs in several lawsuits.
In 1960, Leslie joined the Federal Government General Services Administration and served in the following capacities: Project Review Architect (John F. Kennedy Cultural Center for the Performing Arts); Project Coordinator (Federal Triangle Project); Acting Chief of the Architectural Section; and Office of Construction Management Coordinator on GSA Demonstration Projects which were designed to demonstrate environmental enhancement and energy conservation.
Upon retiring from GSA in 1977, Hamm was serving as the Chief Architect and Energy Conservation Coordinator for the Professional Service Division. His duties included the development of Energy Conservation Guidelines for both new and existing buildings. He also served on the National Evaluation Board for the selection of architects and engineers for professional services contracts.
Leslie Hamm was also very active in the Hall's Hill (High View Park) community where he served as Chairman of the Neighborhood Conservation Committee, which prepared research studies and made recommendations to the Arlington County Planning Commission and the County Board from 1965 to 1975. Mr. Hamm utilized his highly achieved architect skills as member of the Arlington Neighborhood Conservation Committee, by using the Hall’s Hill / High view Park community as a model in demonstrating how to upgrade existing neighborhoods. Leslie's responsibilities included overseeing the building of new houses, sidewalks, curbs and gutters within the community during the mid 1960's. He was also involved with the design feature constructed by the Arlington Landscape Committee and the Community, which created an abstract "totem-pole sculpture garden" entrance to the community symbolizing Native Americans who married African Americans residing on the former plantation known as Hall's Hill.
While living in Arlington, Mr. Hamm was a member of Mt. Salvation Baptist Church for over 20 years, later joining Calloway United Methodist Church where he was responsible for the plans to renovate its original structure which was built in 1866. Hamm also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Arlington Interchurch Committee on Housing for Low Income Families; the Arlington Council on Human Relations; the Northern Virginia Fair Housing Association; the County Advisory Board on Health and Welfare; and the NAACP for over 50 years.
Mr. Hamm died April 20, 2013 at the age of 96.
3108 Columbia Pike
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