For Black History Month Students Learn the History of the Lafayette Land

As part of our Black History Month activities Lafayette 4th and 5th graders participated in an assembly about the history of the land that Lafayette was built upon. In 1926 the government took the land that is now Lafayette Park and Lafayette School from the Black land owners through Eminent Domain.  The intention was to build a neighborhood and school for white people as part of the expansion of Washington as the nation’s capital. We learned about the original owner of the land, Capt. George Pointer, a man who bought his freedom from enslavement in 1792 and was a leader in the development of the C&O Canal.  His descendants lived on the land which was part of a larger black neighborhood referred to as Reno City until 1926 when they were forced to move to other parts of the city.  Our Lafayette students had a chance to hear the history from Tim Hannapel of Historic Chevy Chase, to meet several historians and even to meet James Fisher who is the great, great, great, great, great, great grandson of Capt. Pointer.  The kids were really moved by this story and asked so many great questions. As a next step the kids who participate in SPARK, our social justice club, will be writing letters to the Mayor and the City Council to advocate for renaming the park “Lafayette-Pointer Park” and to ask the city to post historical signage in the park so that this story will be more widely known and never forgotten.