Bens Chilli Bowl

U street’s population was largely dominated by african americans in the mid-20th century to the late 1990s. Many people believe that the population was decreased due to the spontateous decision of education, middle class white people to move into the neighborhood. The article this picture is in argues that was not the reason and that in fact it the migration of african americans was nothing close to spontaneous. Politicians like President Obama, and the mayor of DC seen in this picture started to worry about the crime rates and danger that was present in the neighborhood. In an effort to reduce this danger, authorities started to crack down on the vacant buildings that were illegally run by drug dealers and essentially started to impose higher taxes on these vacant properties. As the taxes increased, more money went into the hands of politicians to build new apartment buildings and open them to the public at an affordable price. But, even after all the gentrification and the moving, we still see a majority of african americans at the one and only: Ben’s Chilli Bowl. Of course we see the mix of Asian and White americans, but it says alot about the lasting affect of culture when the african american president of our country chooses to have lunch in one of the neighborhoods cultural landmarks.





Derek Hyra’s “Cappuccino City” and Alicia Ault’s article

Smith, Alexa. “A Brief History of the U Street Area in Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City.” Washington City Paper, 28 Apr. 2017,

Derek Hyra in Busboys and Poets

In her article in the “Washington City Paper”, Alexa Smith writes about American University Prof. Derek Hyra and his book about the gentrification of U Street. She writes that in Derek Hyra’s “Cappuccino City”, he explains the history of U Street and its African American roots as a sort of utopia. For example, Smith explains how he described the history of being an intellectual stronghold because of the black scholars who taught at Howard University. Lastly, she describes how Hyra put the neighbourhood’s own people as a factor in the gentrification of their own hometown.

This article serves as a background/argumentative source for my research because of the several layers of history it describes and the present gentrified state. It gives my research a base and helps my audience understand the groundbreaking change after change which U Street experienced. It certainly is a credible source which I may drawn information from because it describes a book which was thoroughly researched by our very own Derek Hyra. This article even pinpoints my the epitome of my research on the history-rich and multicultural U Street.



Ault, Alicia. “U Street: The Corridor Is Cool Again.” The New York Times, 14 Apr. 2006.,

In article from the NY times, written by Alicia Ault,  the reemergence of the liveliness of the U Street corridor is described. From bars to shopping centers, Ault explains how booming the reincarnation of U Street actually is. For example, Ault highlights the nightlife present in and around the U Street corridor as she takes her audience to different places like the 930 club. She even took  interviews from local students and listed new famous clubs and restaurants that attract many locals and visitors. Lastly, to show her utmost fascination with the rebirth of the street, she gives readers the chance to visit U Street affordably by describing cheap hotels and their prices .

With this piece of evidence, I have found a perfect argument source which matches my research about the cultural-rich U Street . The source provides several examples of different bars, clubs, and restaurants which all have and are known to have unique cultural night scene. It also gives a contrast with its history in the late 20th century which gives reason to the controversial gentrification which occurred. With the different examples of places to go, it also serves as an exhibit source and gives length to my research. Finally, the fact that the author, Alicia Ault, is a native shows that this article contains information which is reliable.

Assumption of Individualism

Assumption of Individualism


The claim that environment plays a key role in the well-being and future of an individual is constantly denied and replaced with the idea that social problems, or achievements are only individual endeavors. In his “The City of Rhetoric”, David Fleming explains that this idea is the product of a “philosophical modernism”(185). He starts out by describing that the Industrial revolution  impacted  the  view of man. It revolutionized our thinking and made us believe that man is a self-motivating, self-sufficient, self-governing. Fleming tells us that this idea of man was so mythologized that many classic novels and works of literature were built on the display of man’s self-mastery and autonomy. He goes on to explain that this thought led humans to think of home or the environment around us in a superficial context. Therefore, we started to connect with people’s motivations and ideas rather than geographical location. All this led to a “cosmopolitan” society which had mobility and change as a virtue. Along with a technological revolution which dilutes the role of space in human interaction, this long held idea of man’s autonomy becomes even more appealing. Obviously, this conclusion begs the question of: What is the environment around us if it is constantly changing and differentiating?

In Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, a story about a young boy and his endeavors highlights the idea of man’s autonomy. Throughout the story, we see countless adventures which take place in different settings that Huckleberry Finn involves himself in. What is so controversial is that Finn is a little boy who grew up to a drunkard father and a dead mom. Since he is constantly running away from his father, he has no home and goes on adventures with his friends to different towns and states. THis childhood situation idealizes the thought of man’s self-destiny; Finn, as a kid, must live and make his own choices. Finally, at the conclusion of Finn’s adventures he has an ultimate choice with staying with his relative, or conquering the world on his own. As you may have guessed, Finn does go out into the west of America and lives on his own.


Twain, Mark. HUCKLEBERRY FINN, By Mark Twain, Complete. Charles L.                           Webster And Company, 1884,                   h/76-h.htm.

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan            America. SUNY Press, 2008.

New Urbanism



The idea of creating a social mix in troubled neighborhoods with the intentions of educating, integrating, and helping the community as a whole is not what it seems. In “The City of Rhetoric”, David Fleming explains that this system, which has been implemented, is undermining and silencing the poor while celebrating the diversity that the middle class presents. He argues that the incorporation is biased, and that its fundamental design is “attracting high-end buyers and renters”(141). Fleming describes in this effort to diversify, unify, and create equality, housing authorities actually harm the minority neighborhoods they are trying to help. He even describes an interview he had with the head of a certain housing authority as the head describes an emphasis on the middle class integration into the community. The head notes that “this place will be run as a market-rate community that just happens to have public housing residents” (142). This design that housing authorities use is centered on the choice of rich people to live wherever they want. Alternatively, the authorities use the idea that the poor, poverty class do not have a choice. This creates the bias that basically explains this entire project is centered around attracting the middle class while actually ignoring and hiding the low income class.

When New York City is advertised, it  includes the high rises and narcoleptic behavior of manhattan. However, it does not include that 102 public housing projects that are scattered throughout Manhattan. It does not include that Manhattan has the most public housing in all five boroughs. People do not even know what Harlem is when they arrive in NYC. The reputation that the city boasts, with its nightlife and never ending opportunities, attracts younger, middle class white people that are encouraged to live and invest in the city. Therefore, it negates NYC’s low income residents while appealing to the pioneership of the rich people.


“New York City Housing Authority.” Wikipedia, 10 Mar. 2017. Wikipedia,                                                                                                          title=New_York_City_Housing_Authority&oldid=769540171.

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan            America. SUNY Press, 2008.

Federer pushes toward number one ranking

“Then we will reassess my goals but I am not chasing rankings, I want to win tournaments. I am happy I have won this one so I want to enjoy it.” – Roger Federer  

 It has been a record breaking, jaw dropping year for my favorite 35 year old tennis player so far. Roger Federer is two for three in the three major tournaments he has played this beginning half of the year. He has flew past his expectations and fans are starting to wonder if he could become world number one once again. In January, the beginning of the season, he was top 20; now he has raced past everyone to world number six. His success is predicted to be so high not only because he has won, but also because of the gracefulness he exhibits when he plays that is extremely similar to his golden years. People have seen that he continues to turn back time and oust all these younger players. Finally, he was asked about his race to world number one in an article by Sky Sports. Federer was congratulated for his victory and he responded that ”I have totally exceeded my expectations, my goal was to be top eight by Wimbledon. I have time now and I can go and sit back! From that stand point it is an unbelievable start to the year.” His personal goal was reached and he even showed some thought about the rankings. But when he was asked about the ultimate goal of number one, he responded with the quote above. The reason that his phrasing and rhetoric seems so important is because of the simplicity of his answer. He responds that he is not chasing rankings because he actually has nothing else to chase, he broke all the major records for modern tennis. His answer shows his genuine love for a sport he has played literally all his life and he emphasizes that he just wants to enjoy his time while he can still play. In basic terms, Federer just describes to us that he just wants to have fun and hold on to his youth.  


U Street’s Eternal History


U-Street Music

Right in the heart of the famous U-street corridor, is a music hall which was built only 6 years ago, but boasts feats such as “#10 Best Club in America” (Rolling Stone Magazine, 2013). Contrary to popular belief that the hall’s fame and fortune is due to the artists that play there, it actually has a very interesting history that has shaped both its future and the environment surrounding it. U-street is a musically significant area that was one of the liaison cities to early jazz in the 1940s. It was home to musicians like Louis Armstrong, and it had jazz centers such as the famous Crystal Caverns. This booming music industry was created by an eternal unity that African Americans on Black Broadway created amongst themselves. A certain article from The Washingtonian really describes the inspiring network that was created in U Street during the 20th century.                                                                                                                            Written by Briana Thomas, The Forgotten History of U Street leads us to uncover the rich history behind this famous street. It all started in the early 1900s and went into the 1950s. African-Americans, subject to Jim Crow laws in other parts of town, were free to own businesses in U Street and build a sort of “city within a city.” It was a place where Black Washingtonians sent their kids to day camp at the country’s first African-American YMCA, worshipped together in numerous neighborhood churches, and launched a movement against segregation from Black Broadway’s many gathering places. In the early part of the 20th century, U Street was known as a ghetto that was the closest to the metropolitan area. All the African Americans would live there, and the central/city rhetoric of the location really placed this community in a position where it could create an eventful, unified neighborhood. This unity and mutuality brought African Americans, which lived around U Street, together.                                              To make up the many gathering places in U Street, African Americans used their heart and soul when it came to unifying people. They believed that by unifying more and more people, racism would cease. Among the many gathering places, they created National treasures like Ben’s Chili Bowl. These treasures were created by average people like Virginia Ali, who worked at Industrial bank before starting Ben’s Chili Bowl in 1958 with her husband. African Americans in the community started to come up with ideas that they could benefit from, and ideas that the entire community of U Street could benefit from. These ideas even stretched as far as the white house, where William P. and Winifred Lee would arrange bouquets of flowers for the white house in their Lee’s Flower and Card Shop in 1945. The community hummed day and night, using its unity to construct more than 300 black businesses by the 1930s. Edging away from business and money, the African American community of U Street came together on an annual parade called the Capital Classic. The Capital Classic, an annual parade featuring college football games and a beauty pageant

But of course there was not only one year round parade for the entire community. According to Richard Lee, the son of the parents who opened Lee’s Flower Shop, “We used to have parades up and down here almost every Saturday during football season …They would stay up all night sometimes, my mother and father, putting the bouquets together.” Religious leaders such as Bishop CM Grace stood up to unite the community through prayer and song. He constructed the United House of Prayer for All People, which he founded in the late 1920s near Howard University. As you can see the community’s leaders emphasized that the community was a place where people of any race could come together and unite under one street. It was all about creating a network, something that proceeds mortal life and lives on forever. But throughout all the flower shops, churches, and restaurants there was one thing that was instrumental in connecting U Street’s network: Jazz.                                                                                                                Jazz is what gave U Street its popular name, and is what created a network that would spread across the entire neighborhood surrounding it. With the upbringing of jazz, names like Duke Ellington brought attention and audience to the street that was once considered an African American ghetto. Jazz clubs like the Crystal Caverns (Bohemian Caverns), Hollywood, or even Club Bali invited the world’s top musicians to U Street.                                     The locations to the biggest jazz caverns on U Street during the early 20th century


In underground basements, that looked like caves on the inside, were people like Louis Armstrong who played the trumpet and filled the Street with the beautiful sound of Jazz. Locals and people from around the country visited the musical sensation of U Street which was also coined as Black Broadway. “There must have been 15, 20 clubs. There were a lot of cats—and here is the thing about Black Broadway: You didn’t come down here looking raggedy. You came down here dressed.” U Street became a sensation, even regarded as DC’s crowned attractions.  People were beginning to enjoy the unique musical performances that lit up the street during all times of the night.

Louis Armstrong on Jan 30, 1942 playing the presidential birthday ball at U Street’s Lincoln colonnade.


People came together, spent time in jazz clubs and collaborated to make a U Street not only a booming neighborhood, but also a family which preached unity. Through support, unity, and love the African American community of U Street created a sound of harmonizing jazz that still sounds through the street today.                                                                                                                                 This sound is responsible for the very network of music and entertainment which still echoes through the street. In fact, as many examples show, the eternal unity which jazz created in the 20th century is the reason why U Street is still known for music. It wasn’t until desegregation and gentrification that U Street’s eternal sound faced the true test of time. From the 1970s to the early 21st century, Black Broadway faced many changes that rearranged the structure of its booming jazz scene and famous businesses. Clubs and community centers closed down, people moved to different places, traditions ceased, and people began to forget. The famous community center, The Republic Theater, was closed down in order to create a new metro station. The gem of jazz clubs on U Street, crystal caverns, closed down recently. All that’s left currently are the landmarks like Howard and Lincoln theater that used to house jazz every single night, but now all that’s left is a few jazz gigs a month. U Street music seemed to be dying, but through all the changes and renovations, U Street kept its reputation. Throughout the construction of new office buildings, skyscrapers, and high rises, U Street continued its musical nature.                                                                                                                                     Modern concert halls like the famous U Street music hall continue to draw everyone’s attention to this musical street. Hoards of college students, tourists, and even locals attend the music venues that are open almost every day. At night, nightclubs in and around U Street are packed with anybody over 18 years of age.

                                            Tennyson performing at U Street Music Hall

Some even say that U Street’s modern night life is even more spectacular and crowded as it was before. The only difference is that jazz is not as featured as it used to be. It is of course still sounded through U Street, but the crowd has changed. U Street music hall has many artists that produce music from an array of genres. From country music to electric dance music and even nights like 90s night, U street music hall has welcomed all people from all different musical genres. Not only has the hall picked different types of music, but also it has allowed many local and young artists to perform at their venue in order to make a name for themselves. Just as the family-like community of Black Broadway brought up many local stars like Duke Ellington, so does the contemporary version of U Street. As you can see, the network does not only pertain to musical genre, but also to the upbringing of talent artists and new musical genre.                                                                                                                                                           Times and musical tastes have changed, but of course some things are so revolutionary and important that they cannot be ceased. Jazz in modern U Street has still prevailed and still contains an audience that is in attendance every day of the week. At different venues, and small jazz clubs that survived the gentrification, there are jazz gatherings that keep jazz on U Street alive. For tourists and people who just want to know about the jazz listings in dc, the DCist has compiled a list of jazz gatherings happening in clubs such as Twins Jazz, right in the heart of U Street. Even if people, landscape, and modern norms change, something as permanent as music will always exist among the modern community.                                                                                                                                               Many years ago, when U Street was just an African American neighborhood ghetto, ragtime was played in private basements. People that had dreams of famous businesses did not act on those dreams. Everything that U Street was at its peak of success only came to be because of the unity that the African American people strived for. A unity which, with the help of jazz, made sure everyone in the community prospered and succeeded. Black Broadway and the contemporary musical U Street were only possible because of the network that was engraved in the area. What created this network was the togetherness of the African American community in the early 20th century. This network even stretched to different cities like New York, Baltimore, and New Orleans. It inspired the power of music in these places and displayed the harmony of jazz.  The connection between people on U Street in the 20th century was so strong that it proves to be something that cannot be forgotten or destroyed.






12, Briana Thomas on February, and 2017. “The Forgotten History of U Street.” Washingtonian, 12 Feb. 2017,

U Street Jazz – Performers – The Beginnings of Jazz. Accessed 19 Feb. 2017.

“U Street’s Unique History.”, 21 Mar. 2016,





Commonplace #6


How many boards  Could the Mongols hoard If the Mongol hordes got bored?

– Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
This sentence has rhetoric which makes it silly even though it is a grammatically sound sentence.The beginning of the sentence about the mongols has a subject(mongols) and a verb(hoard) that allow it to stand alone. The end of the sentence, which includes the mongol hordes, has a subordinate conjunction “If” that makes it a dependent clause. The independent clause in the beginning asks a question, but the dependent clause at the end adds a limit to the answer of the question, and therefore it is a subordinate clause . It looks like a normal sentence, but the dependent clause adds three rhyming words, that correspond to the subject and verb in the independent clause, which make it sound funny.
David Fleming concludes his City of Rhetoric by arguing that “education [should be] oriented to the ‘strong publics’ of decision making rather than the ‘weak publics’ of opinion formation” (205). For Fleming, then, composition courses, which traditionally have asked students to write about and accept someone else’s opinion, should instead have students formulate their own thoughts and theories using guidelines that merely push them in the right direction. In other words, writing composition courses should help each and every student explore their own sort of path or idea while they conduct research on various writing assignments.

In my project, I have went off to explore the interesting and spectacular jazz age of U Street. The reason why I picked this area is because of the love for jazz I acquired while singing it. Thats right, I used to professionally sing jazz when I was younger. I might even use some of my clips to strengthen my audience’s interest in jazz.
The trailer of The Polymath talks about a writer that redefines all boundaries in his science fiction writing. Samuel R. Delany is regarded as an enlightened thinker in our current “ violent unintellectual streak.” The trailer appeals to ethos as it brings out the qualities of a revolutionary, someone regarded in our society as credible. The trailer describes his credibility by explaining his profound view is unique and yet it is far more intellectual than our contemporary view.

U Street Unity: Capital Parade

A classic show of unity on Black Broadway. The annual Capital Classic, held from 1942 to 1962, featured a football game between two black colleges, a dance and parties, a beauty pageant, and a parade down U Street. This gathering is only one of many gatherings that would happen annually. Gatherings usually consisted of the entire community of Black Broadway and sometime even outsiders. Here, we mostly see the African Americans because these were the times they would come together to orchestrate activities between each other in order to familiarize themselves with their neighbors. This only made things in the community better because people would meet others that shared the same interests, but had different connections, and therefore could pass on those connections to their neighbors.

Jazz caves

Another artifact from the jazz age on U Street. Crystal caverns was the most famous jazz “cave” on U Street. It symbolized the new jazz age on the street as every night, in the 20th century, the club would be packed with jazz enthusiasts. It was so popular that it remains the longest existing artifact of Black Broadway. It was renamed in the 21st century to adhere to the modern social scene; it was renamed “ The Bohemian Caverns”. It was so popular that it only closed down a couple years ago. This club was a testament to the eternal nature of jazz and entertainment on U Street.

Picture of Jazz on U Street

A picture that explains the revolution that was happening on U Street in the first half of the 20th century. Louis Armstrong on January 30, 1942, playing the President’s Birthday Ball in honor of FDR’s 60th, at U Street’s Lincoln Colonnade. As you can see people from all ethnicities came to watch the great jazz musicians in their home on U Street. The influence of jazz on U Street spread rapidly and vastly, some much that even the president of the united states came to listen to jazz on U Street. To point out something else, musicians like Armstrong did not only have the gift of a beautiful voice, but also the gift of playing an instrument. This showed how multi-talented people on U Street were, and explains the rapid success of entertainment on the street.