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By: Madam Prezident
I was sitting with a friend last night discussing the strength of our African American ancestors. Could you imagine the courage Harriet Tubman carried in her soul to not ask people if they wanted to be free, but to force people to pursue their own freedom? The list of courageous African Americans goes beyond that which is documented in American textbooks. Even the slave who followed every rule, never getting out of line was as courageous as the slave who ran to freedom. Our history doesn’t start or end with slavery, which leads us to the story of Timothy Thomas Fortune.
Timothy Thomas Fortune was a late-19th, early-20th century African-American journalist and civil rights activist. His white, two-story Victorian home is a national landmark. Some preservationists, however, fear that the owners, who have been unable to sell the building, are taking it off the market and thinking of demolishing it. On Aug. 17, 2002, an 1875 brick Victorian row house in Washington, D.C., where Duke Ellington performed in cabarets during the 1920s was demolished. The city declared the townhouse unsafe, and it was razed three hours later, while preservationists were in court trying to save it. In addition, the D.C. house where Ellington was born in 1899 had also been torn down.
There is good news, however: the Trust for Historic Preservation announced in May that the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood, had been awarded $75,000 to rebuild the front and rear facades to stabilize the home for public access. It is Woodson who has been credited with creating Negro History Week, which became the precursor of what is now popularly known as Black History Month.