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May Is Upon Us!

It’s hard to believe it’s already May! We are so fortunate that Arlington offers such a delightful Blend of activities, culture celebrations, and finally, we have beautiful weather.  

May is a great time to get out and visit our parks, memorials, outdoor sculptures, murals and the beautiful street art before it gets very hot.  It is also a great time to see some of the African-American history spots in Arlington like: The Benjamin Banneker Boundry Stone, The Harry W. Gray House, The John M. Langston Mural on Langston Boulevard, The Queen City Tower in Crystal City and the Halls Hill Segregation Wall.  

Let’s have a great time in May as we celebrate Mother’s Day, Mental Health Month, National Walking Month and Cinco De Mayo!

Come see us soon!

Dr. Scott Edwin Taylor


Remembering Abington Plantation

The land that Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport occupies today was once part of a plantation. The hills and the ruins on it are all that remain of the house that stood there for nearly 190 years.

Abingdon is known as the “Birthplace of Nelly Custis” because she was the only child in the Custis family who was born there. After her father’s death, George and Martha Washington raised their grand-daughter, Nelly, as their own child. The land was owned for many years by the Alexander family, for whom Alexandria, Virginia was named. John Parke Custis, George Washington’s adopted stepson, moved his family to Abingdon in 1778.

Through the Custis family, Abingdon is associated with families of the Virginia plantations of Mount Vernon, Stratford Hall, Kenmore, Woodlawn and Arlington.

Abingdon survived Union occupation during the Civil War and the end of plantation life. However, the encroachment of industry finally took its toll on Abingdon, which fell into disrepair until it burned in 1930. Eight years later, the land was chosen as the site of an airport designed to serve the Nation’s Capital. As National Airport evolved, the ruins of the plantation house remain preserved on this hill as a testament to the rich history of that land.

It will take some time and effort to update the site, if the airport is willing. Renaming Gravelly Point Park would be a wonderful opportunity to incorporate a reflective space, away from the airport. It would be more easily accessible and eventually could contain markers and other information so that the lives of those enslaved could be properly memorialized and honored.
Data from archaeological reports also shows that the plantation house stood for centuries. At one point, it probably had a large formal and ornamental landscape. Records reveal tantalizing clues about who lived and labored there. A 1782 assessment of the property showed 73 enslaved people on site. The area of Abingdon Plantation and Arlington Plantation had 297 enslaved people listed in the 1800 Census and 353 in 1810.
In 1802 George Washington Parke Custis inherited 57 enslaved people with the stipulation that they remain at Abingdon or a sister plantation Arlington. An 1850 inventory listed 22 enslaved people — by far the most valuable assets of the estate. Personal property was valued at $1,459.99 and enslaved people at more than three times that amount, $5,035.00 In today’s dollars: more than $150,000.

Congratulations To Our Founder, The Late Mrs. Evelyn Syphax!
She will receive a commemorative marker honoring her life and legacy.

An early-summer dedication ceremony has been set for a commemorative marker honoring the life and legacy of educator Evelyn Reid Syphax at the Arlington school system’s administrative headquarters that is named in her honor.

The event will be held the afternoon of Sunday, June 23, under the auspices of the Zeta Chi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Events will be held at the building at 2110 Washington Blvd. where Arlington Public Schools leases space for its central administration. That school system’s space is known as the Syphax Education Center.

Syphax (1926-2000) was an educator, civic leader and philanthropist. Among her achievements was service on the county School Board.

Moving to Arlington in 1951, she was a public-school teacher for more than two decades, and in 1956 married into the historic Syphax family in a union with Archie Syphax, according to wording on the plaque.

In 1963, Mrs. Syphax launched a child-care center, and was an early booster of Montessori-based education. She was active in efforts to implement desegregation of county schools in the 1960s-70s, and served on a number of state educational-advisory panels.

Mrs. Syphax established the Northern Virginia chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and was founder and first president of the Northern Virginia chapter of the Coalition of 100 Black Women.We Love Groups! Contacts us for bookingsMrs. Syphax established the Northern Virginia chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and was founder and first president of the Northern Virginia chapter of the Coalition of 100 Black Women.

With her sons – Rev. Archie Syphax Jr. and Craig Syphax – she was a driving force for the establishment of the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington, having previously served as president of the Arlington Historical Society.

Mrs. Syphax was honored as “Woman of the Year” by the Inter-Service Club Council of Arlington (1981) and a “Notable Woman of Arlington” by the Commission on the Status of Women (1992).

Following her death, the school of education at Virginia Union University was renamed in her honor.

We Love Groups! Contacts us for bookings

Thanks to all that came out to our event last month. We partnered with Mt. Olivet Church and The Arlington Historical Society to present a conversation with Civil Rights Icon , Joan Mulholland. We Had a great time and fantastic turnout.

*Stay tuned for details about our JUNTEETH Celebration.  We’re partnering again with The Arlington Historical Society on June 19th, 2024.