In 1941 the federal government took 27 acres of land to build a road network around the new Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia. The land was occupied by the African American neighborhood of East Arlington (Queen City) and had over 900 residents. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution acknowledges that the federal government has the right to exercise eminent domain – to take privately owned property where needed for the common good – but it requires that the government compensate the property owners. Dr. Nancy Perry explores what the residents lost when they were forced to move, and how they were compensated for that loss. Her ground breaking research combined interviews with 10 of the original residents of the neighborhood, oral histories, land records, census data, photographs, and news articles. The presentation concludes that the federal government made a good faith effort to compensate the residents for land and buildings that were lost, but was unable to compensate them for the loss of their community.
Nancy Perry has lived in Arlington since 1974. She received her PhD in Geography from George Mason University. Her dissertation explores the influence that geography had on the lives of the African American residents of Arlington County during segregation. This presentation is a continuation of her dissertation research.
This event was hosted by the Arlington Historical Society on February 13, 2013. It is part of a monthly series of free public programs brought to the community by the Society. This video was produced by Arlington Independent Media. The Society wishes to thank Nancy Perry, Jennifer Jablonsky, and Rob Farr.