Before the restaurants, boutiques, and luxury high-rises—and before even the beginnings of desegregation and the 1968 riots—Washington’s U Street was known as the city’s Black Broadway. From the early 1900s into the 1950s, African Americans plagued by Jim Crow laws in other parts of town were free to own businesses here and built what was often described as a city within a city.
Join Briana A. Thomas, author of Black Broadway in Washington, D.C., as she brings to life the historic U Street neighborhood’s heritage of arts, entertainment, and commerce from the early triumphs of emancipation to the days of civil rights pioneer Mary Church Terrell through the recent struggles of gentrification.
Her virtual tour visits fabled venues like the Republic, Howard, and Lincoln theaters, highlights Black-owned businesses from U Street’s heyday, and explores the stars who performed in its theaters and nightclubs such as Duke Ellington, Pearl Bailey, Billie Holiday, and Nat King Cole. She also spotlights notable writers and Howard University’s educators and innovators of the era.
Thomas is a Washington-based author and journalist whose work has been published in Washingtonian magazine, the historic Afro American newspaper, and the Washington Post.
Her book Black Broadway in Washington, D.C. (Arcadia Publishing) is available for purchase.
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