Joined in Ideology, and Now in a Park
Several dozen neighbors joined the latest installment of HCCDC’s “Race Matters Locally” series on Oct. 15 to explore the connection between George Pointer and the Marquis de Lafayette. These two names will be joined by a hyphen when the Lafayette Park and Recreation Center on Broad Branch Road is officially re-designated as Lafayette-Pointer by the DC City Council. Formal approval is expected soon following a hearing on the issue in September.
Watch the recording of the Oct. 15 event here.
To sort out the issues bearing on the subject, the webinar featured Julien Icher, a French national who has followed in the footsteps of Lafayette’s last visit to the still young American republic in 1824-1825 and directs The Lafayette Trail project. He was joined by Dr. Reba Carruth, historical interpreter at Mount Vernon and adjunct professor at Georgetown University.
After introducing the Lafayette Trail project and discussing the likely link between the naming of Lafayette Elementary School in 1928 and the centenary of Lafayette’s farewell tour, the conversation turned to Lafayette’s record on slavery in the context of his close relationship with George Washington. Dr. Carruth brought Washington’s perspective to bear, delving into the international scope of slavery, the political-economy of the institution, as well as the moral dimension of slavery in a republic called into being with reference to inalienable rights. She also brought George Pointer into the conversation, who was hired out to Washington while still enslaved, before purchasing his freedom. Pointer the freedman was more aligned to both Washington’s and Lafayette’s vision for the future of the new country than the enslaved Pointer.
Instead of pressing the panelists to judge the wisdom of linking George Pointer to Lafayette, the moderator appealed to the attendees to weigh in in the chat-box. The several that availed themselves of the opportunity expressed themselves as enthusiastic supporters.
Click here for the The Lafayette Trail website.
In addition, Dr. Carruth has provided this list of resources for further reading: