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Fighting for history in a changing DC

Tale of how two neighborhoods are fighting to preserve the legacy of Alexander Crummell - the great abolitionist and academic.

WASHINGTON — In Northwest D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is still going strong after 146 years. 

The church, a historic landmark and a site on the African American Heritage Trail, is celebrating its founder - the great abolitionist and academic Alexander Crummell.

“The city is changing but it’s not holding on to its historical landmarks like it should, “said Sebrena Rose of Ivy City.

In the Northeast neighborhood of Ivy City, the school named in Crummell’s honor sits boarded up. Shuttered since the 1970's, the site is now slated for re-development.  

But the residents are fighting to preserve the past and protect their future. “It’s public land and we want it for our generation and our generation to come,” said Rose.

In front of a congregation gathered at St. George’s Episcopal Church Tuesday evening, Ronald "Smokey" Steven performed a re-enactment of Crummel’s speech: “The Race Problem in America.”

The ceremony, organized by EmpowerDC, marked 121 years since his passing and the story of his legacy which is the story of D.C. and the story these residents will not allow to be forgotten.

“We have to save the school - it's not negotiable,” said Howard University Professor Greg Carr, “I came here directly from Howard University and passed two condominiums that used to be Carver Hall and Lucy Diggs Slowe Hall and not only am I not happy about that, some things are suicide you do it to yourself!” he said as the congregation hummed in agreement.

“We have not done ourselves well as a nation,” said St. Luke’s parishioner Diane Quinn, “we have hidden our history and the achievements of people like Alexander Crummell.  It shares that even in the face of adversity there's an opportunity to be successful."

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