Feminism, History + Tourism: 16 Places to Celebrate D.C.’s Badass Women
March 1, 2022 @ 10:00am
Women’s History Month is a conflicting time for historians. The challenge is to celebrate women’s accomplishments while simultaneously reminding the public that the female experience is mostly overlooked and marginalized in mainstream narratives. Fortunately, here in the nation’s capital modern-day feminists are centering women’s history and weaving stories from the past into everyday life and culture. The following 16 local sites highlight the city’s most badass women leaders at the intersection of feminism, history and tourism. These trailblazing women are managing the government, winning championships and presiding over universities. Each spot is included in A Tour of Her Own’s (TOHO) newest city guidebook “111 Places in Women’s History That You Must Not Miss,” which offers a full slate of women’s history in D.C.
The Female Union Band Society Cemetery is the final resting place of mostly Black and Indigenous women who provided mutual aid to one another in sickness and death. Executive director Lisa Fager not only shares the history of this Georgetown graveyard, but fiercely advocates to protect and preserve the endangered grounds. 2501 Mill Rd. NW, DC; mtzion-fubs.org // @blackgeorgetown
Most locals have admired the U Street mural featuring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but few know about the woman who commissioned this piece. Lisa Wise is a champion of social justice for her community and CEO of Flock DC, a property management company whose headquarters serves as the foundation for Rose Jaffe’s artwork. Take a look at RBG’s hands and you’ll see the theme of the company; birds are symbolic of Wise’s grandmother who used to paint them. She reminds visitors of their importance: “The birds invite us all to soar. To follow our dreams. To break barriers.” 1508 U St. NW, DC; flock-dc.com // @flock_dc
From server to restaurant owner, Aschara Vigsittaboot’s immigration journey from southern Thailand to the United States is one to be celebrated. Honor her family history by visiting Beau Thai and ordering Udom’s Curry, named for her mother. Vigsittaboot advocates for the community by making considerable donations in support of local organizations like My Sister’s Place and New Endeavors by Women. 3162 Mt. Pleasant St. NW, DC; beauthaidc.com // @beauthai
Interpreting a historic home to appeal to modern-day visitors is a major responsibility that Mary Lesher tackles with ease and professionalism. As programs manager at Dumbarton House, she organizes community events that support local businesses and independent creators in a historic Georgetown space that honors diversity of both past and present. 2715 Q St. NW, DC; dumbartonhouse.org // @dumbartonhouse
Anabella Arcay is a master chocolatier whose shop at La Cosecha is definitely worth a visit. Not only are Arcay Chocolates absolutely delicious, but every bite highlights her story and perseverance as a Venezuelan immigrant. 1280 4th St. NE, DC; arcaychocolates.com; lacosechadc.com // @arcaychocolates; @lacosechadc
Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano is the first woman and first member of the LGBTQ+ community to serve as president of Gallaudet University. The campus is one of the few places in the city that features a female memorial. The statue honors Alice Cogswell, a young girl who inspired Thomas Gallaudet to pursue deaf education. 800 Florida Ave. NE, DC; gallaudet.edu // @gallaudetu; @bobbicordano
Reverend H.H. Leonards was a pallbearer at the funeral of Rosa Parks. The two became best friends at The Mansion on O Street, the Dupont museum founded by Leonards. She welcomed Parks during the 1990s to live out her final years in a safe and healing environment. The civil rights icon gave her the nickname “Lady H.” 2020 O St. NW, DC; omuseum.org // @omansion
Ann Friedman retired as a first-grade teacher and went on to create one of D.C.’s newest museums: Planet Word, which provides immersive learning experiences in the language arts. As CEO, Friedman is on a mission to spark excitement about language and reading. 925 13th St. NW, DC; planetwordmuseum.org // @planetworddc
Toyin Alli serves up divine comfort food at New Orleans-inspired Puddin’ located inside Union Market. The recipes are developed and tested in teamwork with her mother — and the Brown Butter Bourbon Bread Puddin’ is one of the best desserts in the city. 1309 5th St. NE, DC; dcpuddin.com //
Teaism founders Michelle Brown and Linda Neumann have created one of D.C.’s most hospitable cafes. It is now largely managed by Michelle’s daughter, Lela Singh, who grew up learning the business since it opened in 1996. 2009 R St. NW, DC; teaism.com // @teaism_dc
Lauren Martin smashed the glass ceiling at one of Georgetown’s most traditional restaurants. As a 20s-something, she is the first woman in the family to lead Martin’s Tavern, making her a fifth-generation owner since her great-great grandfather established it in 1933. 1264 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; martinstavern.com // @martinstavern
Olympic gold medalists Ariel Atkins and Elena Delle Donne were selected to train for the 2022 USA Basketball Women’s National Team. These athletes are local favorites and will step onto the court with the Washington Mystics during the 2022 season played at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast D.C. 1100 Oak Dr. SE, DC; mystics.wnba.com // @iamarielatkins; @de11edonne; @washmystics
When the Washington Spirit captured their first franchise championship in 2021, accolades went to Trinity Rodman who was named the league’s Rookie of the Year. She’s been resigned to join the team at their home stadium, Audi Field. 100 Potomac Ave. SW, DC; washingtonspirit.com // @washingtonspirit
Jennifer Porter is the executive director of the Mayor’s Office on Women’s Policy and Initiatives (MOWPI), whose leadership helps enhance the quality of life for women in D.C., particularly in maternal healthcare. Her accomplishments as a Howard University alumna embody the vision of female artist Elizabeth Catlett, whose sculpture “Students Aspire” on Howard’s campus encourages the student body to work toward equality. 2400 6th St. NW, DC; communityaffairs.dc.gov/mowpi // @dcmowpi
When the cherry blossoms hit peak bloom, there are two women we can thank. Local artist Lea Craigie-Marshall created the official artwork for the 2022 festival. Her commitment echoes that of Eliza Skidmore, the first woman to sit on the board of the National Geographic Society who led the campaign to bring these Japanese trees to the Tidal Basin. nationalcherryblossomfestival.org //
In February 2022, Cynthia Chavez Lamar was announced as the first native woman to lead a Smithsonian museum (National Museum of the American Indian). Her initiatives will amplify the Indigenous experience, much like the work of Zitkala-Sa whose image as “Red Bird” is depicted in the “Legacy of Resilience” mural in Anacostia. 2027 Martin Luther King Ave. SE, DC; americanindian.si.edu // @smithsoniannmai
Editor’s Note: District Fray Magazine is excited to announce our official partnership with A Tour Of Her Own. TOHO is the first tourism company in D.C. to focus exclusively on women’s history. We proudly support their programming The LINEUP which includes live and virtual tours, salons and book talks.
Their 2022 schedule is open for registration here. For a 35% discount on programs in The LINEUP as well as annual memberships, use FRAY2022 at checkout.
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