Contact: Dr. Frank Smith
202/667-2777, ext. 103
Washington DC – The African American Civil War Museum will reenact President Lincoln’s visit to Contraband Camp Barker on the playground of Garrison Elementary School, Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 2:00pm. Garrison Elementary School, located at 1200 S Street, NW is an original site of one of the District’s many contraband camps and is just a few blocks away from the African American Civil War Museum. Camp Barker was the home to over 4,000 freed men and women.
En route from his summer home in the fall of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln visited the Garrison Elementary site known as Camp Barker. During the Civil War, contraband camps were erected to house escaped slaves or persons of color affiliated with Union forces after the military (and the United States Congress) determined that the US would not return escaped slaves to Confederate owners. The reenactment will include residents greeting the President in their Sunday best, as photographed by renowned Civil War photographer, Mathew Brady. As was the case 150 years ago, President Lincoln will arrive in a horse drawn carriage promptly at 2:00 pm and will be greeted by a crowd of well- wishers who will serenade him with the same songs that Mary Dines, the White House seamstress, led them in singing 150 years ago. The Mayor and Council have been invited along with the Community, PTA, students and local churches in the reenactment.
Camp Barker is used primarily as a playground for Garrison Elementary School but Metropolitan Church sits on one corner, with the Vermont Avenue Baptist Church and Mazique Parent Child Center sitting on the site. Earlier this year the African American Civil War Museum received a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services to use geographic information system (GIS) technology to survey and map the Camp Barker Site and is actively involved in research to document the site, unearth relics and engage the Garrison Elementary Community in the study of the District’s impact on the Civil War. Before Shaw and U Street there was Camp Barker and the information obtained from the archeological findings will be used to establish a permanent exhibit to preserve the history of Camp Barker and its role in paving the way for the Shaw and historic U Street communities we know today. Join the African American Civil War Museum in the celebration of this colorful chapter of American history.