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Hutchinson Honored at Anacostia High School

James Wright | 2/4/2014, 2:49 p.m.
Regarded as one of the most noted female African American historians in the United States, Louise Daniel Hutchinson (center), extends thanks to the Academies at Anacostia during the dedication of her private book collection to the school on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Photo by Shevry Lassiter

One of the District's leading historians was lauded Tuesday by city officials, community activists and residents for her work in writing about the lives of African-Americans and the Anacostia neighborhood in Southeast and her gift to a Ward 8 high school.


Louise Daniel Hutchinson, the retired historian and director of research at the Anacostia Community Museum in Southeast, sat quietly in the media room of The Academies at Anacostia Senior High School in Ward 8 as 75 participants honored her. Philip Pannell, the executive director of the Anacostia Coordinating Council (ACC) served as the master of ceremonies for the event, billed as "The Dedication of the Louise Daniel Hutchinson Private Book Collection."


"This is a grand and glorious day at The Academies of Anacostia, in Anacostia and the District of Columbia," Pannell, 63, said.

Hutchinson donated history books to the media center’s collection to the approval of community members and students, faculty and staff at the school.


Hutchinson, 85, is a longtime Washingtonian and a graduate of the former Armstrong Technical High School in Northwest in 1946. She formally started her career in the field of history as a researcher for the National Portrait Gallery in Northwest and, in 1972 she became an education research specialist for it.


In 1973, she worked with the National Park Service at the Frederick Douglass Home National Memorial in Southeast. In 1974, she worked for the Smithsonian Museum at its Anacostia museum and performed such duties as acquired museum objects and strengthened relations in the Southeast community.


During her working years, she authored three books including an acclaimed biography of District educator and principal of Dunbar High School, Anna J. Cooper. She retired from the Smithsonian in 1987.


The media room at Anacostia High School will be known as the "LD Hutchinson Collection at Anacostia Senior High School," said Ian Roberts, the school's principal.


Her pastor, the Rev. John A. Cherry II, sent a video message of congratulations to Hutchison. Paul Quander, the deputy mayor of public safety and justice, read a proclamation issued by his boss, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D).


Natalie Williams, the advisory neighborhood commissioner for single-member district 8A07, praised Hutchison for being a role model.


"Your story is such as remarkable one," Williams, 43, said. "Thank you for being a guiding light for young women in Washington."


Williams delighted Hutchinson and the crowd with a poem, "Phenomenal Woman," authored by legendary poet Maya Angelou.


The Rev. Anthony Motley, a well-known Ward 8 political and civic activist, spearheaded the event, which was sponsored by the ACC, the Anacostia High School Alumni Group and the LDH Legacy Committee.

Former D.C. Council Chairman Arrington Dixon, who is the chairman of the ACC, said that Hutchinson serves as an example of what is the best of Anacostia.


"I want to urge the young people in the audience not to buy into the perception that Anacostia is a problem," Dixon said. "It is not and Anacostia is going to be glorious. The newcomers need to understand the spirit of Anacostia and it is more than mortar, bricks and streets."


Two of Hutchinson's children, Donna Marshall and Victoria Boston spoke about the influence their mother had on them. Boston, 43, announced that the Hutchinson family will start a scholarship fund at Anacostia High School.


"Our young people have to understand that education is the new currency," Boston said. "We want to make sure that a 12th grader gets a $5,000 scholarship to college and our goal is to see that amount and number doubled and tripled each year."


Hutchinson spoke briefly, saying that she "was happy to be there."


Brianna Walker, the winner of the essay contest that bears Hutchinson's name, said that she is happy to have met the former author and her family.


"We really need the books that she donated to us," said Walker, 16. "We know that Anacostia has a bad rap sometimes but we are better than everybody says we are. These history books are good books."