Saturday, March 12, 2016

Day 1: Anacostia and Beyond

The Bucknell group hanging with Frederick Douglass.
The park ranger welcoming us to Cedar Hill.
Whew! Our first full day in D.C. is done and it was jam packed. We started the day by being picked up by DC in Black Bus Tours. Our first stop was at Cedar Hill in Anacostia. Cedar Hill was the home of Frederick Douglass and is now a part of the National Park System. We took a tour of the house and learned a great deal about who Frederick Douglass was and why he was an important figure in the history of the United States. I learned a few interesting things. For example, I did not know that Frederick's second wife was white, which had to be very unusual for the late 1800s. I thought it was fantastic that most of the items in the house actually belonged to Frederick Douglass. As someone who visits a great deal of National Historic Sites, I understand how unusual that is. The ranger explained to us that when Douglass died, his second wife raised $10,000 to buy all of his possessions from his children so that she could fulfill his wish for Cedar Hill to be his "Mount Vernon" and that people could come to see how he lived.

Amir N Muhammad talks to Trey and
Brianna about some of the Muslims
that have served in the U.S. government.

Our second stop was at America's Islamic Heritage Museum. Director and curator of the museum, Amir N Muhammad, gave us a personal tour of the museum and explained the history of Islam in the United States, which runs deeper than any of us had expected. We also got a very special surprise visit from Imam Marshall Musa Muslim Abuwi. He is the great-grandson of Booker T. Washington. He talked to us briefly about his service in the U.S. Navy and on what being Muslim means to him.

Imam Marshall Musa Muslim Abuwi speaks to us about serving in the Navy.
After a bus tour of the U Street area of Washington, D.C., we stopped at the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum. We didn't have a lot of time to spend there, but we were able to watch a short film about the surprisingly large number of African Americans that fought for the Union in the Civil War.
The group at the African American Civil War

Our tour guide, Juanita, speaking to us at the
African American Civil War Museum.

Thad refilling the bins of soy protein.
We then went on to Howard University where we joined with other groups to help put together humanitarian aid boxes for Stop Hunger Now. We broke up into different parts of the assembly lines and were able to put together 60,000 meals that will be sent to wherever they are need most in the world.
Brittany sealing bags of the soup mix.

Sha-Asia packing boxes.  Each box will feed
up to 216 children.
Each pallet had the equivalent of
11,880 children-sized meals.
After our service work, we split up and had dinner at a variety of restaurants near Howard University. I ate at a Jamaican eatery called Negril. The vegetable roti with a side of fried plantains was delicious. 

We then took the Metro back to the 4-H Conference Center where we met for reflection time on our first day in D.C. The topics for discussion included what things the students learned that they didn't know before, something they heard that perhaps they questioned and something that they will always remember.

Brittany and Neyda discussing their impressions of their first day in D.C. during
reflection time. 

Tomorrow's highlights include attending Asbury United Methodist Church's service followed by lunch with some of the congregation, the Museum of the American Indian and an evening of Reggae/Jazz. It should be another great day.

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