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Rebuilding a "Respectable" Shaw: Rethinking the Origins of Black Heteronormativity in Post-Riot Washington, D.C. 1968-1972

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Abstract:

In the wake of the 1968 urban rebellion in Washington, D.C., black Washington was faced with a critical question, how to rebuild? The vast majority of communal violence in Washington occurred in the predominately African American Shaw neighborhood along along H, 7th and 14th streets, three major commercial corridors that served black consumers. Among the victims of the riots were half a dozen bars and restaurants that either explicitly catered to black LGBT Washingtonians or allowed them to congregate without molestation. While the existing literature on 1960s urban rebellions points out that rioters targeted retail and recreation districts few scholars analyze the way urban rebellions remade the sexual geography of major American cities like Washington, D.C.
This paper argues that the riot did not merely physically destroy queer space in black Washington, but that ideological currents within Black Power politics, which emphasized black community control over commercial development in black neighborhoods made it extremely unlikely black gay commercial space would reappear in or near downtown Washington for decades to come. Instead, black civil rights activists led by Walter Fauntroy and his Model Inner City Community Organization (MICCO) worked to direct federal redevelopment funds towards “respectable,” church sponsored, housing projects for the working poor and away from commercialized vice in Shaw. While white gays and lesbian entrepreneurs opened glamorous mega discos, new restaurant ventures and integrated themselves into the city’s overall nightlife economy with relative ease in the early 1970s, opportunities to develop public space for alternative black sexuality were limited by the complexity of Black Power politics in a post-riot city.
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p433932_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Holmes, Kwame. "Rebuilding a "Respectable" Shaw: Rethinking the Origins of Black Heteronormativity in Post-Riot Washington, D.C. 1968-1972" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p433932_index.html>

APA Citation:

Holmes, K. "Rebuilding a "Respectable" Shaw: Rethinking the Origins of Black Heteronormativity in Post-Riot Washington, D.C. 1968-1972" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p433932_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: In the wake of the 1968 urban rebellion in Washington, D.C., black Washington was faced with a critical question, how to rebuild? The vast majority of communal violence in Washington occurred in the predominately African American Shaw neighborhood along along H, 7th and 14th streets, three major commercial corridors that served black consumers. Among the victims of the riots were half a dozen bars and restaurants that either explicitly catered to black LGBT Washingtonians or allowed them to congregate without molestation. While the existing literature on 1960s urban rebellions points out that rioters targeted retail and recreation districts few scholars analyze the way urban rebellions remade the sexual geography of major American cities like Washington, D.C.
This paper argues that the riot did not merely physically destroy queer space in black Washington, but that ideological currents within Black Power politics, which emphasized black community control over commercial development in black neighborhoods made it extremely unlikely black gay commercial space would reappear in or near downtown Washington for decades to come. Instead, black civil rights activists led by Walter Fauntroy and his Model Inner City Community Organization (MICCO) worked to direct federal redevelopment funds towards “respectable,” church sponsored, housing projects for the working poor and away from commercialized vice in Shaw. While white gays and lesbian entrepreneurs opened glamorous mega discos, new restaurant ventures and integrated themselves into the city’s overall nightlife economy with relative ease in the early 1970s, opportunities to develop public space for alternative black sexuality were limited by the complexity of Black Power politics in a post-riot city.


Similar Titles:
“All Black Politics is Guyanese Here”: Afro-Asian Origins of Black Internationalism in the Post-WWII Atlantic

The Office for Black Community Development and the Politics of Food Access in Post-Riots Watts

The Black Student Union and the Black Power Movement in Washington State, 1968-1970


 
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