Livication Marker Unveiling 2013


PRESS RELEASE

07/10/2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information:
Vaunita Goodman (202) 291-1663
email: shero1860@facebook.com
blog
: https://henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com
#Livication

JULY 20, 2013 is HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS GRAVE MARKER UNVEILING

-Events to recognize cultural icon-

Washington, DC –Today the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation (HVDMF) announced plans to unveil a marker at the grave of its namesake in National Harmony Memorial Park. The Foundation has as its mission to raise awareness of the life and legacy of Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and activist Henrietta Vinton Davis.

Miss Davis remained relatively unrecognized until July 1983 when an article entitled “Henrietta Vinton Davis and the Garvey Movement” by Professor William Seraile was published in the journal ‘Afro-Americans in New York Life and History’. Nearly a year later, acknowledgment of her contributions increased with the publication of the book ‘Shakespeare in Sable’ written by Professor Errol Hill of Dartmouth University. Her home in Northeast Washington, DC has been listed on Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail since 1999.

On Saturday July 20, 2013 the HVDMF starts the day off with an award presentation and celebration at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, culminating with the unveiling of a marker at Miss Davis’ grave site at National Harmony Memorial Park. Guest speakers and celebrants include:

Dr. William Seraile (Bruce Grit), Barbara Eklof (For Every Season), Kevin Grace (Friends of Joe Gans), Nnamdi Azikiwe (Vinton Davis Weblog) and Mwariama Kamau (UNIA). Producing partners for the occasion are Vaunita Goodman (MTPC) and Michon Boston (Iola’s Letter). Clayton LeBouef (Something The Lord Made, The Wire, Homicide) will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

In 2008, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty issued a proclamation designating August 25 ‘Henrietta Vinton Davis Day.’ The decree acknowledged Davis as the first African American to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds office beginning in 1878, before Frederick Douglass was appointed Recorder. She made her career debut as a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist and dramatic reader in Washington, DC on April 25, 1883 where she was introduced by Douglass, a family friend. The proclamation acknowledges the success of Miss Davis as a public speaker and cultural icon.

Celebration / Award Presentation recognizing Vera J. Katz, (Professor Emerita Howard University Theatre Arts) and others will be conducted in the A-5 Auditorium 11am-1:30-pm at the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Library 901 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C. (202)  727-0321

Livication / Henrietta Vinton Davis Marker Unveiling will be conducted 3pm-5pm at her grave site in National Harmony Memorial Park 7101 Sheriff Road Largo, MD (301) 772-0900

Events are free and open to the public.

About Henrietta Vinton Davis
For thirty-five years after her debut performing “Shakespearean delineations”, original plays and dramatic readings with her own performing company, and local troupes throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean, Henrietta Vinton Davis broke new ground as a successful theatrical artisan. Her commitment to her craft gained her recognition as the first African American “woman of the stage.”

During 1919, a year notable for its “Red Summer,” she joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League headed by Marcus Garvey.

As a leader of the African Redemption Movement, Davis made use of her acting skills to promote the aims and objectives of the UNIA. Her ability to “transport her listeners” to another place with her oratorical skills played a key role in both attracting members to the organization and promoting the Black Star Line Shipping Company. As such, she was elected to numerous positions including International Organizer, and Third Assistant President General of the UNIA. Additionally, as Vice President and a Director of the Black Star Line, Davis was the de facto authority aboard the Black Star Line’s flagship vessel, the S.S. Yarmouth, on its maiden voyage. The ship was laden with a cargo worth upwards of $5.000.000 destined for the Caribbean. On the ship’s return Marcus Garvey proclaimed Miss Davis “the greatest woman of the [African] race today” in a meeting at the UNIA’s Liberty Hall.

About The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation
Initially organized to raise funds for a marker at the grave of Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis

in 2005, the mission of The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation has evolved to include publishing books, producing plays, films/videos and conducting symposiums educating the general public about her life and the times in which she lived.

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A scene from the play Christophe by William Edgar Easton

Proclamation for Henrietta Vinton Davis Day

At Cemetery, a John Brown Raider Is Remembered


At Cemetery, a John Brown Raider Is Remembered; [FINAL Edition]
Eugene L. Meyer. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nov 16, 2000. pg. J.08

Copyright The Washington Post Company Nov 16, 2000

Organized by the cemetery, descendants and Temple Hills genealogist Paul E. Sluby Sr., it was billed as a Veterans Day event. Yet, while [Osborne Perry Anderson] did serve in the Union Army during the Civil War, it was his participation in the pre-war raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry that made an indelible mark on history.

The Columbian Harmony Society section comprises about 40 of the 125 acres of burial ground located within sight of FedEx Field. The plaque to Anderson says, “This dedicated and brave Christian traveled from Chatham, Canada to Harpers Ferry, W. Va. to fight beside John Brown in his quest to abolish slavery.”

For Robert Berry, 54, of Brunswick, Anderson was also his great- great grandfather, a shadowy figure he’d heard about over the years but only now is beginning to know. “One day, my mother and I went up to Harpers Ferry and introduced ourselves to the National Park Service people,” he said. “They were surprised he had descendants.”

In a cemetery off Sheriff Road in Landover are buried many forgotten figures in African American history, among them John Brown raider Osborne Perry Anderson.

Last weekend, nearly 100 people came on a clear, breezy day to National Harmony Memorial Park to memorialize this forgotten abolitionist and to dedicate a bronze plaque to his memory at the site of his final resting place.

They included a color guard from Fairmont Heights High School, black Civil War reenactors, Prince George’s County Council Chairman Dorothy F. Bailey (D-Temple Hills), former D.C. Council member Frank Smith and a score of Anderson’s descendants.

That Anderson’s remains were there is no secret, though the exact grave site is unknown. However, Saturday’s ceremony was intended not to close the book on his life but to open a new chapter of remembrance.

“What it means for me is closure,” said Dennis Howard, 50, a District social worker and a great-great grandson. “At the same time, it’s a starting point.”

Organized by the cemetery, descendants and Temple Hills genealogist Paul E. Sluby Sr., it was billed as a Veterans Day event. Yet, while Anderson did serve in the Union Army during the Civil War, it was his participation in the pre-war raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry that made an indelible mark on history.

That 1859 attack, under the leadership of fiery abolitionist John Brown, is often cited by historians as a prime catalyst to the war that claimed 600,000 lives and ended slavery.

Born in Pennsylvania on July 17, 1830, Anderson was educated at Oberlin College in Ohio, then immigrated to Canada, where he learned the printing trade and met Brown in 1858.

Anderson was one of five blacks among Brown’s 21 raiders, and he was only one of a handful among the entire group who escaped and survived. He went on to write a book, “A Voice from Harper’s Ferry.”

Anderson enlisted in the Union Army in 1864. Mustered from service, he lived in Washington, where he belonged to the 15th Street Presbyterian Church and died of tuberculosis in December 1872 at 42. An obituary in the Washington Star described him as “a man of good character” eulogized by three ministers.

He was buried first in the Columbian Harmony Cemetery, founded by free blacks in 1825, at the current site of the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station parking lot in Northeast Washington.

The cemetery eventually fell into disuse and disrepair, and, in 1959, its 37,000 remains were disinterred and moved to Maryland, to the National Harmony Memorial Park.

Because of inadequate records and lack of contact with families, many of the remains were unidentified and reinterred without markers. Anderson’s exact location is among the many unknowns, and cemetery caretakers could only guess when placing the plaque.

The Columbian Harmony Society section comprises about 40 of the 125 acres of burial ground located within sight of FedEx Field. The plaque to Anderson says, “This dedicated and brave Christian traveled from Chatham, Canada to Harpers Ferry, W. Va. to fight beside John Brown in his quest to abolish slavery.”

Those attending the ceremony included Harpers Ferry Mayor Walton D. Stowell and three uniformed members of Company B of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Group, Civil War reenactors inspired by the film “Glory.”

They were led by Ben Hawley, the great-great grandson of an African American soldier in the Union Army.

“I like to feel I’m reliving history in his name,” said Hawley, who also said of honoree Anderson, “I mean, he was a hero. He was an inspiration.”

For Robert Berry, 54, of Brunswick, Anderson was also his great- great grandfather, a shadowy figure he’d heard about over the years but only now is beginning to know. “One day, my mother and I went up to Harpers Ferry and introduced ourselves to the National Park Service people,” he said. “They were surprised he had descendants.”

Berry is glad he did. “You know, I stop and think, if he had been captured and killed, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Other prominent 19th-century African Americans buried at the cemetery include George Beall, who established the first school for blacks in Washington in 1807; Francis Datcher, first president of the Columbian Harmony Society and for 42 years a messenger for the War Department; and William Slade, who was in charge of the hired help at the White House and was once described as Abraham Lincoln’s “friend and human comforter.”

Also Mary Ann Shadd Cary, a prominent abolitionist; James Wormley, proprietor of the internationally-known Wormley House hotel, at 15th and I Streets NW, and the Rev. John Cook, founder and first pastor of the 15th Street Presbyterian Church in 1841.