Friday, February 06, 2009

the white and colored playground

crazy thing to call a playground, huh?
according to some posts over at the truxton circle discussion board, thats what the playground at First and New York avenue NW is called.

commenter joycepaul said

According to documents at the MLK Washingtonian, "In 1911 Congress created the Public Playground Department. In July 1951, the Recreation Board voted to change the NY Avenue Playground from a white only to a bi-racial use playground, staffed by the negro division." This was the first playground staffed by the negro division. Neighbors soon designated and began refering to the playground as the White and Colored playground. African American families came from all over the DC area to utilize this facility along with Caucasian family as a intergrated place where all children could play and have fun. Activities were planned for the whole family and this facility won numerous awards and competitions.

reading that reminded me of a conversation i had a a few years ago.

On the 50th anniversary of brown vs board of education, a neighbor of mine, Columbus Rich was interviewed ( and appeared on the cover !) for Washingtonian Magazine. Here's his part in the article:

Columbus Rich, 66, a retired manager for the National Education Association, moved to the Bloomingdale neighborhood near DC's whites-only McKinley Tech High School in 1949, when he was 11.

McKinley's field was beautiful. There was a guy who took care of it named Jessie. We'd go over there to play baseball, and Jessie would come out and run us off.

We got to the point where we said, "Let's stop running away. Let's just all spread out and let Jessie chase us." So Jessie came out: "You get off this field"--he had a very heavy German accent. He'd bring the hose and shoot water at us, and we'd scatter. We figured he wasn't going to catch all of us.

Columbus Rich was a 1957 graduate of McKinley Tech.

Interestingly enough, the article mentions Sidwell Friends School.

The Rest of the article can be seen HERE

No comments: