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Longtime Green Valley residents to speak about community’s history next week

(Updated on 2/19/22) National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) is hosting a virtual conversation about Green Valley’s history on Feb. 24 in connection with Black History Month.

Entitled “Reclaiming the Lost Identity of Arlington County Through the Lens of Green Valley,” the event will “highlight stories of the original creators and innovators who helped build, shape and influence not only the Green Valley community, but also the greater Arlington community.”

Slated to speak are historian Dr. Lindsey Bestebreurtje from the Smithsonian, longtime resident as well as president of the Green Valley Civic Association Portia Clark, and Dr. Alfred Taylor Jr. who recently authored a book about the community’s history.

Bestebreurtje, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, will focus on the development of African American communities in the county at large, while Clark and Taylor will share their personal experiences living in the community and observing firsthand the evolution of Green Valley.

Additionally, the first 100 people who register have the option of getting a free copy of Taylor’s book “Bridge Builders of Nauck/Green Valley.”

“As we celebrate Black History Month, I can think of no better way to commemorate the history of the Black community in Arlington County than by hearing firsthand from those who have spent their lives here,” Tracy Gabriel, President and Executive Director of National Landing BID, said in a press release. “I look forward to Dr. Bestebreurtje’s remarks and to learning from the insights and experiences of Ms. Clark and Dr. Taylor as we work to build a bright and inclusive future.”

Green Valley is one of the county’s oldest historically Black neighborhoods, dating back to 1844. Recently, the community has expressed concern about what some see as a rewriting of Green Valley history in the county’s public art master plan, as well as the lack of transparency in regards to slated changes for the historic Green Valley pharmacy.

There are a number of other events honoring Black History Month taking place in Arlington over the next several weeks. That includes a Sidney Poitier Film Festival at the Shirlington Branch Library, an Arlington Historical Society virtual exhibit exploring the African American experience and a virtual discussion about the legacy of Selena Norris Gray, who a Columbia Pike park was named after.

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