Lift Every Voice
— Georgia Ave./Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail —
The body of water that inspired the line in Howard University's alma mater, "far above the lake so blue stands old Howard firm and true," is McMillan Reservoir, which opened in 1902 to supply water to the city. The reservoir and the Old Soldiers' Home grounds nearby created a green oasis for Howard students and their neighbors. On summer nights before World War II, neighborhood families fled their hot rowhouses to sleep on blankets near the cooling water.
Howard's neighbors, long uplifted by the university's intellectual life, have enjoyed its campus traditions, especially Homecoming. In 1926 they joined the crowd of 16,000 to dedicate Howard's new stadium, and cheered as the Bisons crushed Lincoln University's Lions, 32-0. The annual Thanksgiving Day football game was the centerpiece of Classic Week's fraternity-hosted concerts, receptions, and dinner dances.
Among the speakers at the 1926 stadium dedication was its designer, Professor Albert Cassell. The architect oversaw Howard's expansion in the 1930s, designing 16 campus buildings.
Lynn C. French, who grew up near the campus, remembered attending Howard commencements with her family in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s — not only to cheer graduating friends and relatives, but also to hear the inspirational speeches by such speakers as President Harry Truman. Just a year after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Lyndon Johnson addressed the graduates, pledging to enforce equal rights for all Americans: "It is not enough to open the gates class. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates." More recently Colin Powell and Oprah Winfrey have addressed the graduating class.
Crowds await the new stadium's first match, the 1926 Howard-Lincoln Thanksgiving Day "Classic." Howard University Archives.
Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority participate in Howard homecoming festivities, 1939.Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Architect and Professor Albert Cassell with infant son Irvin. Among Cassell's campus designs are Douglass Hall right
, and Founders Library. Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
[Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall] Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
[Founder's Library] Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Lynn French, holding the diploma, with her parents Carolyn Howard and David M. French after his 1948 graduation from Howard Medical School. Collection of Lynn French
Howard President James Nabrit, at right, watches as U.S. President Lyndon Johnson greets Howard students in front of Founders Library following his June 1965 commencement speech. LBJ Library and Archives
In 1960 Sen. John F. Kennedy spoke on campus, above
, as did labor leader A. Philip Randolph, left
. Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History