D.C. Mondays: Black Broadway in Washington, D.C.

Brick building with an awning that looks like piano keys and neon signs that read "Bohemian Cavern" and "Caverns"
The Bohemian Caverns jazz club in D.C. Photo by Elliot C. Williams.


Well before today’s coffee shops and luxury high-rises, and even before the beginning of desegregation and the 1968 riots, Washington’s Greater U Street was known as Black Broadway. From the early 1900s into the 1950s, African Americans plagued by Jim Crow laws in other parts of town were free to own businesses here and built what was often described as a “city within a city.” Local author and journalist Briana A. Thomas narrates U Street’s rich and unique history. This virtual talk spans the neighborhood’s history from the early triumph of emancipation, through the days of civil rights pioneer Mary Church Terrell and music giant Duke Ellington, to the recent struggles of gentrification.

About Briana Thomas

Briana A. Thomas is a Washington, D.C.-based historian, journalist and tour guide who specializes in African American research. Thomas is the author of the local Black history book Black Broadway in Washington, D.C. and has been published in Washingtonian Magazine, the historic Afro-American newspaper, and the Washington Post throughout her journalism career. Thomas’ educational neighborhood history tours have been featured on television networks such as ABC, NBC and CBS. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland-College Park and a bachelor of arts in English and communications from Greensboro College. She is assistant pastor of a Maryland-based church Open Bible Ministries.

How to Participate

This program will take place on Zoom. To participate, please register online, and we will email you a link and instructions for joining. Simply follow that link at the time the program starts (12 p.m. EDT / 9 a.m. PDT). When you register, you can also request to receive a reminder email one day before the program with the link included.

About the D.C. Mondays Series

Join local authors, researchers and community members online for lively discussions about Washington, D.C.’s history, politics, culture and more. Browse upcoming programs