When Church meetings Became Street Protests: Vermont Avenue and the Era of Civil Rights, Washington, DC, USA

The persistent and forceful campaign, which the Washington Council [of the National Negro Congress] and allied organizations have waged against police brutality in Washington, has been one of the most significant battles for civil rights and personal freedom and security ever conducted in the District of Columbia.

This very complete historical account of the fight against police brutality from 1936-1941 in Washington, DC Shootings by DC Police Spark Fight Against Brutality 1936-41 | Washington Area Spark tells the story of Vermont Avenue’s presence in the earliest marches for personal freedom, 80 years after Abraham Lincoln traversed this road to reach his refuge in Northwest Washington, DC.

They happened during a time when African American people felt powerless at the hands of the Washington, DC police force.

Photos below are from a pre-metro station, pre-African American Civil War Memorial 10th and U Street, NW, where they intersect with Vermont Avenue.

Rally Against DC Police Brutality on U Street: 1941
Rally Against DC Police Brutality on U Street: 1941 (View on Flickr.com)

2016.04.25 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC USA 04393
2016.04.25 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC USA 04393 (View on Flickr.com)

CIO Union Speaks Against DC Police Brutality: 1941
CIO Union Speaks Against DC Police Brutality: 1941 (View on Flickr.com)

2016.04.25 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC USA 04390
2016.04.25 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC USA 04390 (View on Flickr.com)

Workers’ Party Lines Up to March Against DC Police Brutality: 1941
Workers’ Party Lines Up to March Against DC Police Brutality: 1941 (View on Flickr.com)

2016.04.25 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC USA 04438-HDR
2016.04.25 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC USA 04438-HDR (View on Flickr.com)

Afro Lists Victims of DC Police Killings: 1936
Afro Lists Victims of DC Police Killings: 1936 (View on Flickr.com)

The different ways newspapers reported events in 1941

The Afro-American:

D.C. citizens march to protest meet against police brutality. (1941, Sep 27). Afro-American (1893-1988) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/531302266?accountid=46320

(you can view the article online here)

The Washington Post:

500 negroes protest ‘brutal’ district police. (1941, Sep 15). The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/151433287?accountid=46320

(DC library patrons can see the page by clicking on the link above)

And a virtual reality view. To appreciate it, you should click over to Flickr where it will be assembled for you into a sphere.

2016.04.20 Vermont Avenue Washington DC USA 2256
2016.04.20 Vermont Avenue Washington DC USA 2256 (View on Flickr.com)

14 years later and a few blocks away, Thurgood Marshall would work to end school segregation. 27 years later, Vermont Avenue would host one of the century’s most important leaders, and witness the destruction of the city around it when he was assassinated.

Note: Taking a little diversion into Washington, DC (one of the three foci of this blog) and specifically Vermont Avenue over the next week.

Next: How Vermont Avenue became a nidus for the LGBTQ rights movement in Washington, DC and eventually the United States.

Thanks Washington Area Spark for documenting Washington, DC so well.

If you live in Washington, DC and want to be a part of this history, please join us this weekend as we plant Vermont Avenue, Northwest.

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