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Friday, July 18, 2014

DC's Ties to Freedom Summer

Welcome to this week's Friday Flashback. Each Friday in the Flashback we offer a post about some part of the past and its relationship to DC. Sometimes, we will write a new entry. Others times, we will showcase articles that previously appeared in The Prices Do DC or some other online publications. But no matter who does the writing, you can trust that you will learn something important from the Flashback

The 1964 Freedom Summer movement in Mississippi does not generally conjure up images of the nation’s capital. But a few of the organizers had strong ties to the District.
Long before Marion Barry became the “Mayor for Life” in Washington, D.C., he was a Civil Rights activist working with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee.
To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in Boundary Stones, click here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

National Book Festival Only Weeks Away

Even though there are still several weeks until the unofficial August end of summer, it's not too early for book lovers to begin making plans for the Library of Congress' 2014 National  Book Festival set for Aug. 30.

There will be several changes to this year's event. First, it won't be held outside on the National Mall. Instead, it will held inside the massive Walter E. Washington Convention Center. 

The move was made to protect the newly planted grass on the National Mall.According to the Washington Post, the Library of Congress staff tried to address the Park Services concerns, but no compromise was able to be reached.

Instead of a 2-day festival, this year's event will be held on one day only. However, since it is inside, the day-long celebration of books, authors, and reading can run later than it did on the unlit Mall. Presentations will be offered for 12 hours, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

This year, local independent book store Politics and Prose will serve as the official festival bookseller. This is the 1st time in the festival's 14-year history that an independent bookseller has won the contract for the event.

Last year, the festival attracted more than 200,000 visitors. Like previous years, this year's event will feature many of the country's best-known authors, poets, and illustrators such as E.L Doctorow, Rep. John Lewis, Richard Rodriquez, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. For a complete list of speakers and times, click here

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Looking Back on DC's Most Historic March

For DC, it truly was a day like no other. Now, in an exhibition at the Library of Congress entitled A Day Like No Other: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, visitors can be transported through photographs to that most historic day in the Civil Rights Movement.

The photos, many of which have never been seen, are part of the Library's massive collection. In addition to the almost 50 photos on display, a video offers an additional collection of shots taken by both amateur and professional photographers who were on the scene on that August, 1963 day.

Officials estimate that more than 250,000 people marched and filled the area around the reflecting pool in front of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial to hear Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders talk about civil rights, jobs, and the American Dream.

That event still ranks as the largest non-violent demonstration for civil rights that the country has ever witnessed.

Here is just a small sample of what you will see at the exhibition which runs until Aug. 30.

It began with a march down Pennsylvania Avenue ...
... to the area around the Lincoln Memorial ...
... this is the view that Lincoln saw ... 
... and these signs from that force us to ask: is there still more to do ... 
... and the answer is we still have much to clean up.
Extra! Extra! Read All About It
Even More about the March

More Library of Congress information about the Civil Rights era

The jobs and freedom march recreated last August. Lookin

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hidden Gems @The Corcoran Gallery

Welcome to this week's Monday Must-See post. On Mondays, The Prices Do DC will offer an entry about some current exhibit in DC you should see. Sometimes, we will write the post. Sometimes, it will be taken from another publication. But no matter who is the writer, we believe it will showcase an exhibit you shouldn't miss. 

Aaron Douglas Into Bondage 1936 oil on canvas 60 3/8 x 60 1/2 inches Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC Museum Purchase and partial gift from Thurlow Evans Tibbs, Jr., The Evans-Tibbs Collection 1996.
The Corcoran’s best-known works stop you in your tracks. That lofty tribute to democracy, Samuel Finley Breese Morse’s enormous “The House of Representatives,” practically shouts for your attention. So, too, does “Niagara,” by Frederic Edwin Church, so masterfully painted that you can almost hear the rushing water. And one can’t help but marvel over Giuseppe Croff’s “The Veiled Nun,” carved to make stone look like silk. 

But the weight of the museum’s most famous works is balanced by many quieter pieces, and with only three months left to see them, it’s about time they were paid their due. 

Here, the museum’s chief curator, Philip Brookman, and its manager of curatorial affairs, Lisa Strong, selected a few notable works that have helped made the Corcoran the institution it is today.

To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in The Washington Post, click here.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

150 Years Later, the Civil War Is Still in Focus at the Smithsonian

DC's Smithsonian museums (there are 17 of them here in the city) are among America's most visited and treasured places. But the Smithsonian also publishes a series of some of the most interesting, fact-filled blogs appearing anywhere on the internet. Each Sunday, The Prices Do DC re-posts an entry either about the Smithsonian or that 1st appeared in 1 of the institution's blogs. Hope you enjoy and maybe we'll see you soon at the Smithsonian.

It’s only one weapon among the 5,700 in the firearms collection of the American History 
Museum, but it speaks to the Civil War in a very personal way. 

Under the watchful eye of curator David Miller, I hoist the 1863 Springfield rifle musket to my shoulder and feel its weight, with deepening respect for those who used these muskets with deadly results. This particular weapon was owned by Pvt. Elisha Stockwell Jr., who lied about his age to sign up, at age 15, with the Union Army. He took canister shot in his arm (and a bullet in his shoulder) at Shiloh, marched with General Sherman toward Atlanta, and, at 81 and nearly blind, finally put pen to paper to write about his experience.
“I thought my arm was gone,” he wrote of the moment the grapeshot struck him, “but I rolled on my right side and...couldn’t see anything wrong with it.” Spotting ripped flesh, a lieutenant had Stockwell sit out a charge against the “Rebs,” possibly saving his life.
The musket young Elisha used also speaks volumes about the technology of the day. In a Smithsonian symposium last fall, Merritt Roe Smith of MIT argued that the creation of the technical know-how that could produce precisely tooled, interchangeable parts for hundreds of thousands of rifles, a feat the South couldn’t match, set the stage for explosive industrial growth after the war.
The Smithsonian’s observation of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial encompasses exhibitions at many of our 19 museums. For an overview of exhibitions and events and a curated collection of articles and multimedia presentations, check out Smithsonian.com/civilwar
To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in Smithsonian.com, click here.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

For The Sound of Summer, Nothing Beats the Bossa Nova

Each week in our Saturday Supplement we re-post an entry of interest to both residents of the Washington area and visitors to DC that first appeared in another publication's web site.

Recording of the Jazz Samba album at All Souls Unitarian Church.
(Felix Grant Archives at UDC/Felix Grant Archives at UDC)
Nothing captures the sound, the mood or the languor of summer quite like the bossa nova. Invented along the beaches of Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s, the quietly swaying Brazilian music became a worldwide phenomenon a decade later and has never gone away.

Everyone knows that the flair and sensibility of the music come from Brazil. What is not so well understood is that the bossa nova craze was launched here in Washington.
On Feb. 13, 1962, a day that dawned with a temperature of 16 degrees, six musicians convened at a Washington church and, much to their surprise, created an album that has endured as the eternal soundtrack of summer.
“Jazz Samba” was released under the names of Washington guitarist Charlie Byrd and the album’s featured soloist, saxophonist Stan Getz, who flew down from New York for the day.
It was a casual undertaking, and no one had any inkling that it would become something extraordinary. 
To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in The Washington Post, click here.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of the American Revolution

Welcome to this week's Friday Flashback. Each Friday in the Flashback we offer a post about some part of the past and its relationship to DC. Sometimes, we will write a new entry. Others times, we will showcase articles that previously appeared in The Prices Do DC or some other online publications. But no matter who does the writing, you can trust that you will learn something important from the Flashback

This is the 3rd and final day for our official unveiling of By the Book DC, another companion blog to The Prices Do DC. The new blog will offer posts about the Washington book scene, including entries about local DC authors, new books about politics, vital national issues or DC life, discussions by authors from around the country who visit DC institutions to deliver book talks, or important American books (Washington, DC is the nation's capital after all) you should have read or should be reading regardless of when or where they were written.

If you like books and reading, we believe you will enjoy By the Book DC. If you use Facebook, the best way to get the most out of our new site is to click here and then like the page. Links to all our posts will be delivered directly to your Facebook page. If you don't use Facebook, links will also be posted on our Twitter page which you can follow. If you don't use either of those social media sites, you can bookmark or favorite By the Book DC and check it every so often since we won't be posting there every day. 

Today, we have Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian Joseph Ellis talking about his latest book Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence.  This post will appear both here and in By the Book DC in full.

We hope you like By the Book DC and here's to you, good books, and great reading.

Joseph Ellis signs copies of his new book
after his talk at the National Archives
When Pulitzer Prize winning historian and author Joseph Ellis told his colleagues he was going to write a book called Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence, his colleagues were less than supportive. 

"They asked - are you crazy? We already know how the American Revolution happened," Ellis said. 

But, after 6 months of research, Ellis was convinced that there were still some questions about the period that hadn't been definitively answered. His book is an attempt to deal with those questions and he recently appeared at the National Archives to discuss his findings.

Question 1: Was the American Revolution inevitable?

Ellis believes it wasn't. "It didn't happen in an evolutionary way, but in a revolutionary way," he said.

There were many in Britain who felt it would be best to compromise with the American colonies. "If that had happened, they would have invented the British Commonwealth 100 years earlier," Ellis said.

But others argued that British superiority and rule must stand. "They said 'there cannot be many Gods 
(or kings), there must be only one. Then they believed in an early form of the domino theory. Finally, they were convinced that Britain had the military might to squash an American rebellion easily," Ellis said.

"That side won and decided on a military solution to put the rebellion down. In retrospect, it was the biggest blunder in the history of British statecraft," the historian added. 

Question 2: Why did Americans congeal around the idea of revolution? 

Ellis says that much of the credit has gone to the popularity of Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" pamphlet. "That's true, but everything happens in a social and political context," Ellis said. "The deciding factor was the (British) invasion. Many people felt they didn't declare independence from Britain, George III declared independence from them. The British Empire caused the American Revolution to happen."

Question 3: Why is July 4th celebrated as Independence Day?

Ellis says that actually many of the delegates didn't sign the Declaration of Independence until August 7. "Oh, and by the way, there was no signing ceremony," he added. So where did July 4th come from. Ellis said that the printer of the Declaration put that date on what was signed. Actually, Revolutionary leader and later American President John Adams believed that Americans would make July 2nd the celebratory day. 

"But then both Adams and (Thomas) Jefferson made it right by dying on July 4th," Ellis said with a smile. 

Question 4: How did the Americans pull off the military victory?

Actually, they didn't win militarily, Ellis contends. They just didn't lose. 

"The British thought it was going to be a cakewalk," Ellis said. And there was much to support that view. Britain had the world's best navy. It's fighting force was well-trained and augmented by Hessian mercenaries from Germany. Most importantly, those who figured that Britain would win looked at the experience factor.  The average British fighting man had 7 years of military service. That same time for the Colonial Army amounted to less than 6 months.

But the leaders of the Revolution never really doubted the outcome. 

"You can't kill us as fast as we can raise an army," John Adams said. "We don't have to win. You have to win."

Benjamin Franklin was even more direct with his remarks to British leaders. "You have said that we have no chance, but, in truth, you have no chance," Franklin said.

At the end of his engaging talk, Ellis was asked what George Washington might think of military America today if he were somehow able to visit this age. The historian said he was certain that after years of America engaging in wars with such small, distant countries as Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Washington would be succinct with his response. 

"We have become the British," he would say. 

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