Brookland History Lives! Sterling Brown House

by Shani on September 1, 2012

One of our goals here at here at the Brookland Bridge is to discover and celebrate Brookland’s rich history. This is the first installment in a series of stories focusing on our neighborhood’s history.

Sterling Brown House Brookland NE Washington DC

Sterling Brown DC Commission On Arts And Humanities Sign

At 1222 Kearney St. NE you can find the home Sterling Brown lived in from 1935 till his death in 1989. The Washington DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities placed this sign at the home to commemorate this famous poet, author and professor. Brown was a professor at Howard University for over 40 years. Although he spent the majority of his life here in Brookland,  he is considered part of the Harlem Renaissance artistic movement. Brown’s academic and literary focus was African-American folk life, culture, and language. His 1932 book, Southern Road, produced the poem “Strong Men,” a groundbreaking poem about the Middle Passage of slavery, that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit during such horrid circumstances. Brown, and fellow authors/poets/folk life academics  Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston are credited with elevating and revolutionizing how African-American “folk speech”  is regarded. By moving beyond stereotypes to understand people and culture he infused his writings with a full, nuanced, reality-based folk aesthetic. Some of his notable students include Toni Morrison, Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sowell, Ossie Davis, Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones) and Ralph Bunche – a fellow Brookland resident.

Sterling Brown House Washington DC

This is how the Sterling Brown house looks today.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick September 1, 2012 at 8:10 am

Here are a couple more for you that are not as well know…

H. Carl Moultrie, former Chief Justice of the DC Superior Court and the man for whom the DC Superior Court is named lived in the 3900 block of 17th St NE.

Alvin Drew is a NASA astronaut who flew twice on the Space Shuttle with one mission being the final Space Shuttle Discovery flight in 2011. Alvin grew up in a house in the 3800 block of 18th St NE.

I’ll let you know if I think of any others and can tell you the exact addresses if you’re interested.

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Shani September 1, 2012 at 10:00 am

Fantastic! Thanks so much. I am trying to keep this going as a weekly feature, so any historical tidbits/leads are greatly appreciated. Lets keep Brookland history alive! :)

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Rick September 1, 2012 at 10:17 am

One more interesting tidbit about the 3800 block of 18th St. Dwayne Brown lived four doors away from Alvin Drew. Dwayne is now a spokesperson for NASA. So that one block in Brookland produced two NASA employees.

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Shani September 1, 2012 at 10:34 am

Huh. I need to move there and increase my chances of landing a NASA gig! Seriously, this is exciting to me as a very amateur astronomer. I have been thinking about posting when the ISS will fly over Brookland, but I doubt we will be able to see it with the light pollution and all.

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Rick September 1, 2012 at 10:59 am

Oh no, you can see it!

My wife and I watched it a couple of months ago when if flew over. When I was a kid I used to go outside with my Dad and watch Skylab fly over Brookland. It was quite the experience to watch the ISS do the same 30-some years later. I love all things space related as well. I was just talking with my nephew last night about getting my telescope I loaned to him about 10 years ago.

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Brooklander September 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Dr. Bernard M. Peebles lived in Brookland.

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Vliciouslady February 23, 2014 at 12:17 am

I grew up in Brookland from 1960s-1990s; my family members still live in the same house. As a kid I attended Lucy Diggs Slowe Elementary school, located at 14th and Jackson Streets, NE. Ms. Slowe served as the first dean of women at Howard University and was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Original Group of 1908. (There is a residence hall named for her at Howard University as well.) While attending Slowe, we learned that Ms. Slowe actually lived at 1256 Kearny Street, NE (please note I spelled it “Kearny” and not “Kearney”….that 2nd “e” was removed from the street signs several years ago).

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