The Spirit of ’76
The Spirit of ’76
The Battle over Self-Determination and Urban Development during the Bicentennial
The Lyndon Johnson administration set in motion plans to commemorate the nation’s two hundredth anniversary with extensive urban renewal efforts. Chapter Five shows that as the Bicentennial Celebration neared, the Richard Nixon White House withdrew funds, decentralized programming, and minimized the importance of urban renewal to the overall celebration. In collaboration with both the Nixon administration and congressional representatives, the city’s white boosters planned to use the national celebration as a platform for the redevelopment of downtown Washington, D.C. They had an ally in the city’s black municipal leaders who supported the development of the city’s downtown core, including the building of the Eisenhower Convention Center and the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Avenue. Studies of these civic projects illustrate how a new coalition of stakeholders, including Downtown Progress, Mayor Walter Washington, and Representative Walter Fauntroy, tried to cash the Bicentennial’s promissory note for permanent development. During this time, some black leaders and groups returned to the fight for home rule, opening up new, but gradualist, political possibilities during the Bicentennial planning period. Thus the Bicentennial became a battle not only over urban development but also over the leadership and direction of the city.
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