JADE RODGERS
email: sagethejaderodgers@gmail.com
Instagram: @Jadethesage
web: jadethesage.com


Harlem of the South, Black Wall Street, Hayti, Little Harlem and so many other neighborhoods are hidden in the history of segregated America. Black communities formed and thrived against racial and political violence but are oftentimes overlooked. In Washington D.C., the greater U-street historic district once home to an affluent Black community between the 1900's and the early 1960's would be coined “Black Broadway” by actor/singer Pearl Bailey. Throughout American history the violence directed at Black people did not stop Black communities from thriving. The Black community being central to the ways in which we take up space. This era and the space which was created by Black pioneers would later be shattered by white supremacist ideals and leave a lasting effect on generations that followed. Our communities during the Civil Rights era took hard hits. Black Broadway was situated in this nation's capital and the home to the artist who doubled as activists, sometimes not by choice. Musicians, singers, actors, poets, the title does not matter when Blackness as a construct is political. The community itself supports the idea that Black people can exist in a society that may not want them. Our peace, creations, art, and thoughts are memories lost when processes like gentrification take over the physical sites of Black and brown communities with no intention of preserving their impact and history.

My own history, one that I have over the years been compelled to know and understand may date back further than I will ever find. My parents who are both D.C. natives are a testament to this community and others like it. They tell me stories of a city, “Chocolate city,” and when we hear these stories and venture out to walk the path of our ancestors it no longer looks the way it was described. Many Black owned businesses and homes have been bought and erased from the landscape. In this work reference of the D.C. riots which occurred in 1968 after Martin Luther King Jr (MLK) was assassinated, Black Broadway would enter a state it could not come back from. The parallels of today and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement show how racial inequalities are still affecting Black communities. My concentration on Black Broadway is one that leaves me reflective and sorrowful. The soul of this community were the artists and business folk who made it an important symbol of Black culture in D.C. As I center the music scene of Black Broadway in this work as an extended conversation about gentrification which is most easily accountable. Through research of the Library of Congress and physical scouting, I have located many locations which were a part of the once prominent community. Today the city only notes some sites of Black owned businesses on their heritage trails, that citizens can take on their own time, but today many of those businesses face being sold or demolished. Traversing the remnants of Black Broadway, you can find locations like, The Republic Gardens, Harlem Inn, Club Bali, and more which are hidden amongst the million-dollar condo's which now take up most of the landscape. The area no longer represents its rich history. This sort of removal of Black spaces perpetuates America's history of excluding the Black voice and presence. In order to combat this erasure Black artists such as myself take on the mantle of learning, preserving, and passing along the history of our communities.