Though the signs along the trail were installed over the summer, the trail will officially open with an unveiling 11 a.m. Saturday in the Park at LeDroit (3rd and Elm streets NW).
The ceremony will include performances from the Dunbar High School Color Guard, the Howard University Gospel Choir and poet E. Ethelbert Miller.
The trail, a series of historical signs and markers throughout the neighborhoods, focuses on the area’s historic role in promoting desegregation and African-American civil rights in Washington.
Eric Fidler, president of the LeDroit Park Civic Association, explained that the neighborhood was once a focal point for notable African-American politicians, activists, artists and scientists. Famous former residents include D.C.’s first elected mayor and convention center namesake Walter Washington, influential suffrage and civil rights advocate Mary Church Terrell and Edward Brooke, the first African-American Senator.
The trail is a project that is more than six years in the making and is made of signs identical to those in other neighborhood heritage trails across the city. Researchers and historians from Cultural Tourism DC, a nonprofit that creates the heritage trails around the District, spent years digging up the history of the neighborhood and interviewing longtime residents.
Fidler said that the trail is an opportunity to collect the stories and memories of those residents and preserve them for the future.
“A lot of neighborhood history exists in people’s heads and in stories and family photographs,” Fidler said. “The problem is if you don’t have a program to put it all together, a lot of it could be lost forever.”
After performances and speeches by community member, attendees can participate in three guided “mini-tours” that will cover portions of the trail. The unveiling event is free and open to the public.
Photo via LeDroit Park Civic Association