The Dream Began Here

The Dream Began Here

Sunday, February 10, 7PM

Untold Stories of Washington DC’s Early African American Community Examined in “The Dream Began Here” WDCW-TV

Local Black History Month Special on February 10

The White House, the Capitol Building, and the Washington Monument are among the indelible images that come to mind when people think of Washington, DC. However, the unsung stories behind the beginnings of Washington, DC and development of the great structures and the direction the city took in its early years are often forgotten. WDCW-TV’s “2013: Living Black History” special “The Dream Began Here” (Sunday, February 10 at 7PM) examines the enormous impact African Americans had in the development of Washington, much of which is unknown and unseen by visitors and locals alike.

In the half hour special, familiar DC sites are visited and unfamiliar stories are shared that give a fresh perspective on early life in our nation’s capital. For example:

• Before the Tidal Basin was developed that area was a local slave market, where slaves were purchased and traded.

• The material for granite columns in Statuary Hall inside our Capitol Building was excavated by slaves in Aquia, Virginia. The columns were later installed by slaves.

• White House slave, Paul Jennings, was instrumental in saving the famed portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. That portrait today hangs in the White House East Room. When the White House caught fire during the War of 1812, it was Jennings and First Lady Dolly Madison who transported the portrait to safety.

• Before it officially became Arlington National Cemetery for the military, the cemetery was originally the final resting place for local slaves. Hosted by Robin Hamilton, “The Dream Began Here” explores where and how the city’s Black community lived as Washington grew and became more populated.

Originally, Georgetown and Foggy Bottom were neighborhoods made up primarily of African Americans. Many of the original slave homes have been transformed into pricey real estate over the years. Besides the many cultural and economic contributions African Americans brought to Washington, DC, “The Dream Began Here” also visits the Mount Zion Methodist Church. This historic church was the city’s first house of worship for Black people in Washington, DC and was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Synopsis: WDCW-TV Black History Month special “The Dream Began Here” examines the many cultural, economic and spiritual contributions brought to the city of Washington, DC and its surrounding community. Inside stories of the building of the Capitol, how one slave heroically saved a White House treasure, and the little known stories of a local church and it’s connection to the Underground Railroad.

The U.S. Capitol Building

Built by slaves 1793-completion

The Tidal Basin

Slaves were sold here during the 1800's

White House

Slaves were used on the grounds during 8 of the first 12 Presidencies

Mt. Zion Church

The oldest black house of worship in DC

Mt. Zion Cemetery

Burial site for black residents of the Georgetown neighborhood since the 1800's; was also a stop on the Underground Railroad

Thaddeus Stevens School

Educated black Foggy Bottom students from 1868-1968

Arlington Cemetery

Slaves are buried in Section 27

Dolley Madison's Home

Paul Jennings was an enslaved man who served as Dolley Madison's body servant in both Washington, D.C., and at Montpelier. The 47-year old Jennings was sold in 1846 by Dolley Madison to cover debts. A friend, Daniel Webster subsequently purchased Jennings in 1847, and he made an agreement with Jennings for him to work off his debt at $8 a month until he was fully free. Jennings was a member of the free black population of Washington from 1847 until his death in 1870. Learn more about Paul Jennings.

Herring Hill

An historic black neighborhood in Georgetown.

Freedman's Memorial

The first black monument on national park grounds.

For more information visit The White House Historical Association website. And also check out their Black History Symposium on February 27th.

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