Hundreds Enjoy Informer's African-American Tour
Barrington M. Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 2/22/2012, 12:13 p.m.
"Denise has done a phenomenal job," he said of the newspaper's publisher, Denise Rolark Barnes. "Black History Month should be every day. A strong black woman was dragged to the shoreline, dragged to a castle, dragged on a boat, saw people dying all around her. (Then when she got here), she picked cotton. But God is a good God. Mentally, a lot of people couldn't handle it. I thank God that she endured. It's because of that strong black woman why we're here."
Ron Burke, the Informer's advertising manager introduced Barnes and representatives of the event's sponsors. The sponsors were PEPCO, the D.C. Lottery and Kaiser Permanente.
" ... I see a lot of young people here and a lot of them are not connected to their roots," Burke said. "Yeah, they say we live in a post-racial world and everything, but no matter who you are, you need to stay connected to your culture and heritage."
Burke also pointed out the Informer's significance of being a woman-owned publication and lauded the sponsor representatives, all of whom were women. Participants won raffle prizes and others received gift bags from D.C. Lottery representative Angela Copeland after answering questions about the women who have served in District politics.
Other sponsors included Southwest Airlines and Verizon Wireless, who were both returning for the second year, along with Pepco and Kaiser Mid-Atlantic. All of the sponsors provided gift bag items and as a surprise for the attendees, Southwest Airlines gave away four roundtrip tickets to any of their destinations in the continental U.S.
On the bus ride to the Civil War Museum in Northwest, six bus loads of passengers passed through Historic Anacostia, gazed at the home of Frederick Douglass from a distance. The 21-room Victorian structure built in 1852 is also known as Cedar Hill. They also learned about Douglass, dubbed the Sage of Anacostia, whose skills and abilities included orator, author, publisher and diplomat. He escaped from slavery as a young man to become America's moral conscience and one of the country's staunchest defenders of freedom for his enslaved brothers and sisters.
Buses also slowed at Lincoln Park so that the riders could see the Emancipation statue of Abraham Lincoln freeing an enslaved man, and one of Mary McLeod Bethune, the most powerful black woman in the country, particularly during Franklin Roosevelt's presidency. She was an educator, philanthropist and mentor to generations of young black girls and women.
A close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935 and Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla. which she opened in 1904 as the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls. Bethune started with $1.50, faith in God that the institution would succeed and five girls for students. Hers is the second statue in the District to honor a woman, Tour Guide Tamika Harris explained.
Participants heard more about the American Civil War (1861-65) and Harris offered tidbits about Washington at war. For example, she said, the Anacostia River forms a natural defense against any attempts to invade Washington, D.C. Harris talked about the layout of the city and the roles of Benjamin Banneker and Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant. Banneker was appointed as a surveyor in 1791 by George Washington to assist L'Enfant, the chief architect of the project. It is said that L'Enfant could not control his temper and was fired. He left, taking all the plans with him, but Banneker saved the project by recreating the plans from memory.