Lift Every Voice
—Georgia Ave./Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail —
With its Afro-centric shops and connections to Howard University, this stretch of Georgia Avenue has been called the "Nile Valley." Blue Nile Botanicals opened first at 2826 Georgia in 1977. Hodari Ali, a former editor of Howard's student newspaper, followed with Pyramid Books at 2849 Georgia, where businessman Kenny Gilmore remembered finding "the whole 360 degrees of black life." Filmmaker and Howard Professor Haile Gerima opened Sankofa café and bookstore at 2714 Georgia in 1999.
Long before the bookstores opened, the Cardozo Sisters operated a hair salon across the street in Howard Manor. Founded in Elizabeth Cardozo Barker's upstairs apartment, the salon set a refined tone. Its uniformed staff were prohibited from "speaking loudly, gossiping, or calling customers by their first names." Some clients with "permanent appointments" had their hair done at the same time every week for 30 years. The three sisters, daughters of DC educator Francis Lewis Cardozo, Jr., trained dozens of hairdressers. As a member of the city's Board of Cosmetology, Barker fought successfully to desegregate the profession. Ernest Myers began cutting hair at the Eagle Barber Shop at 2800 Georgia in 1947 and eventually bought the business. In order to attract mothers and their young sons, Myers
recalled, he played only Christian radio music before 2 pm. He numbered Howard University presidents among his high-powered clients, some of whom first came under Myer's scissors during their student days. Deas Delicatessen opened in 1961 at 2901 Georgia, one block north, offering Howard students a three-meal-a-day plan, and serving such celebrities as comedian/activist Dick Gregory and the Urban League's Vernon Jordan. Sidebar:
Discover More...DC native Edward "Duke" Ellington lived with his wife Edna and their son Mercer at 2728 Sherman Avenue - one block west of here - from about 1919 to 1921. Captions:
Pyramid Books owner Hodari Ali discusses Kwanzaa, left
, 1986. This "pharaoh" marked Pyramid Books' storefront. Anita Lewis makes an appointment with Elizabeth Cardozo Barker (at the desk) and Margaret Cardozo Holmes at the sisters' salon, 1941. Eagle Barber Shop proprietor Ernest Myers cuts Paul Gibson's hair, 1991. Edward Deas discusses retiring from his deli with Allison Mitchell, 1992. Reverse:
How many dreams and memories reside in this short stretch of Georgia Avenue!
South of Florida Avenue where it is called Seventh Street, its heart once beat to jazz riffs and the eager steps of people dressed in their finest. Here swept aromas
once wafted from commercial bakeries. Just north of Florida is where hot Saturday afternoons meant Griffith Stadium, the crack of the bat and shouts of baseball-mad crowds. And Georgia continues. It climbs toward Howard University, the historical heart of our country's African American intellectual community. Farther still, brick temples of learning give way to rowhouses and storefronts, and the steady beat of everyday life.
"Pleasant Plains" once was the name of the Holmead family estate, which spread from Rock Creek to Georgia Avenue north of Columbia Road. Today's Pleasant Plains neighborhood lies north of the old Holmead land. And while most of this trail lies in Pleasant Plains, it actually starts in Shaw, enters Pleasant Plains at Florida Avenue, crosses through Park View, the neighborhood north of Howard University, and ends in Petworth.
Lift Every Voice: Georgia Ave./Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail
is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided tour of 19 signs is 1.9 miles long, offering about two hours of gentle, uphill exercise. Free keepsake guidebooks in English and Spanish are available at businesses and institutions along the way. For more on DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.
Collaborators and credits of the Heritage Trail
Blue Nile owners Warren "Dudu" Allen and Ayo Ifalase at the counter, 2010.