Because We Live Here: Origins of the Fairlawn Citizens Association
While he is not a member of the Fairlawn Citizens Association, it is not unusual to see Stephen Tweedy or any of his neighbors throughout the community near S Street or Ridge Place sweeping the sidewalk or alley. Tweedy remembered a neighborhood youth once asking him why he was sweeping the street. Tweedy stopped, looked at the child and repeated what his father had once said to him, “Because we live here, that‟s why we sweep.”
In the latter part of 1966, a few residents from the area of 16th Street and Ridge Place formed a Beautification Block Club, to work together at keeping their street clean and at beautifying the community. According to Ora Glover, who compiled a brief history of the Association for the program bulletin of its First Community Luncheon, the founding members of the association were: Margaret Darden, Helen Desperate, James Desperate, Frances Jackson, Juanita Jefferson, William Lauray, Booker Tolbert, Clois Tolbert, and William Willis. Their first meeting was held in the home of William Willis on Ridge Place. Frances Jackson was elected the first president and she served from 1966 to 1971. In 1969 the Beautification Club members tried to join the existing Fairlawn Civic Association but they were not welcomed. As more Fairlawn residents, mostly black and relatively new to the area, joined the Beautification Club, its members decided to rename themselves the Fairlawn Citizens Association (FCA). After several meetings in different homes, the membership increased so rapidly that it became necessary to hold the meetings at a larger location – Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church at 1600 T Street.
Later in 1969, the meetings were moved to the Anacostia Neighborhood Library but due to the early closing of the library, the meeting location was changed to the Garden Memorial Presbyterian Church at 1720 Minnesota Avenue. Rosa Hart was elected the Association‟s second president and she held that post from 1971 to 1976. In 1975, the FCA was incorporated as a non- profit organization, and in 1980, it joined the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations, Inc. and held its First Community Luncheon as a fundraiser. Other members of the community who have served as president of the FCA are Ernest Darling, Carol Burnett, Edward Stewart, Thelma Jones, James Davis, Calvin Gurley, Joseph Carter, and Diane Fleming.
Through its meetings, newsletter and website, the FCA seeks to keep the residents of Fairlawn informed of community events and activities, as well as city activities that affect them. At each meeting, lawmakers and/or service providers are guest speakers to enlighten the community and to respond to concerns. Law enforcement officials may also attend the meetings to
Fairlawn Citizens Association, Inc.
discuss crime reduction and prevention. Each month, the Fairlawn Informer newsletter is published and
delivered to residents via their Block Captains and other delivery persons, such as students earning
community service hours. The newsletter features the speaker for the upcoming meeting, announcements, news from the neighborhood and other useful information. The names of new and renewing members, the month‟s birthday celebrants, get-well wishes, and expressions of sympathy are also reported. In the early 1990s, Patricia Jones created the current FCA newsletter and in 1995, she received, on behalf of FCA, the
Washington Post Award for Outstanding Community Newsletter from the DC Federation of Civic Associations.
10 FAIRLAWN: From the Flats to the Heights