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Between Freedom and Equality: The History of an African American Family in Washington, DC

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An original history of six generations of an African American family living in Washington, DC Between Freedom and Equality begins with the life of Capt. George Pointer, an enslaved African who purchased his freedom in 1793 while working for George Washington’s Potomac Company. It follows the lives of six generations of his descendants as they lived and worked on the banks o An original history of six generations of an African American family living in Washington, DC Between Freedom and Equality begins with the life of Capt. George Pointer, an enslaved African who purchased his freedom in 1793 while working for George Washington’s Potomac Company. It follows the lives of six generations of his descendants as they lived and worked on the banks of the Potomac, in the port of Georgetown, and in a rural corner of the nation’s capital. By tracing the story of one family and their experiences, Between Freedom and Equality offers a moving and inspiring look at the challenges that free African Americans have faced in Washington, DC, since the district’s founding. The story begins with an 1829 letter from Pointer that is preserved today in the National Archives. Inspired by Pointer’s letter, authors Barbara Boyle Torrey and Clara Myrick Green began researching this remarkable man who was a boat captain and supervisory engineer for the Potomac canal system. What they discovered about the lives of Pointer and his family provides unique insight across two centuries of Washington, DC, history. The Pointer family faced many challenges—the fragility of freedom in a slaveholding society, racism, wars, floods, and epidemics—but their refuge was the small farm they purchased in what is now Chevy Chase. However, in the early twentieth century, the DC government used eminent domain to force the sale of their farm and replaced it with an all-white school. Between Freedom and Equality grants Pointer and his descendants their long-overdue place in American history. This book includes a foreword by historian Maurice Jackson exploring the significance of the Pointer family’s unique history in the capital. In another very personal foreword, James Fisher, a descendant of George Pointer, shares his complex emotions when he learned about his ancestors. Also featured in this important history is a facsimile and transcription of George Pointer’s original letter and a family tree. Royalties from the sale of the book will go to Historic Chevy Chase DC (HCCDC), which has established a fund for promoting the legacy of George Pointer and his descendants.


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An original history of six generations of an African American family living in Washington, DC Between Freedom and Equality begins with the life of Capt. George Pointer, an enslaved African who purchased his freedom in 1793 while working for George Washington’s Potomac Company. It follows the lives of six generations of his descendants as they lived and worked on the banks o An original history of six generations of an African American family living in Washington, DC Between Freedom and Equality begins with the life of Capt. George Pointer, an enslaved African who purchased his freedom in 1793 while working for George Washington’s Potomac Company. It follows the lives of six generations of his descendants as they lived and worked on the banks of the Potomac, in the port of Georgetown, and in a rural corner of the nation’s capital. By tracing the story of one family and their experiences, Between Freedom and Equality offers a moving and inspiring look at the challenges that free African Americans have faced in Washington, DC, since the district’s founding. The story begins with an 1829 letter from Pointer that is preserved today in the National Archives. Inspired by Pointer’s letter, authors Barbara Boyle Torrey and Clara Myrick Green began researching this remarkable man who was a boat captain and supervisory engineer for the Potomac canal system. What they discovered about the lives of Pointer and his family provides unique insight across two centuries of Washington, DC, history. The Pointer family faced many challenges—the fragility of freedom in a slaveholding society, racism, wars, floods, and epidemics—but their refuge was the small farm they purchased in what is now Chevy Chase. However, in the early twentieth century, the DC government used eminent domain to force the sale of their farm and replaced it with an all-white school. Between Freedom and Equality grants Pointer and his descendants their long-overdue place in American history. This book includes a foreword by historian Maurice Jackson exploring the significance of the Pointer family’s unique history in the capital. In another very personal foreword, James Fisher, a descendant of George Pointer, shares his complex emotions when he learned about his ancestors. Also featured in this important history is a facsimile and transcription of George Pointer’s original letter and a family tree. Royalties from the sale of the book will go to Historic Chevy Chase DC (HCCDC), which has established a fund for promoting the legacy of George Pointer and his descendants.

41 review for Between Freedom and Equality: The History of an African American Family in Washington, DC

  1. 5 out of 5

    Arik

    Anybody who lives in NW DC should read this. Changes the way I look at my neighborhood.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Extremely cool book

  3. 4 out of 5

    Peter Bergh

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tarsi

  5. 5 out of 5

    sheila maher

  6. 5 out of 5

    M T

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joan

  11. 5 out of 5

    Viva

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  13. 5 out of 5

    Harper

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Desmond

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mara

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  17. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  18. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Torrey

  19. 4 out of 5

    Clara Green

  20. 5 out of 5

    Noelle Kukenas

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hanna

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  24. 5 out of 5

    Oi Wah

  25. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Wallace

  27. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Gerhart

  28. 5 out of 5

    Krista

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Maki

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  31. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

  32. 4 out of 5

    Douglass Abramson

  33. 5 out of 5

    James

  34. 5 out of 5

    Shanon

  35. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ahmed

  36. 4 out of 5

    Cody

  37. 4 out of 5

    sophia

  38. 5 out of 5

    Tarah Luke

  39. 4 out of 5

    Deb

  40. 5 out of 5

    Anna Shields

  41. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Hughes

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