If These Walls Could Talk: Marriott Wardman Park Hotel's Connection to Langston Hughes & Thurgood Marshall
Imagine being in the room where history happened . . .
The Marriott Wardman Park in Woodley Park may look like any other convention hotel in Washington, DC, but appearances can be deceiving. Over the years, the hotel has been host to important moments in African American history.
In honor of Black History Month, we take a look back at its storied past and connection to two African-American icons.
In these early days, a young writer got a job as a busboy at the Marriott Wardman Park. Langston Hughes, famous African-American poet and Thurgood Marshall's college friend, had been working as a personal assistant to historian Carter G. Woodson at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, but found the job was cutting into his writing time.
He decided to leave the position to become a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel. It was said that whenever Mr. Hughes had a pencil and paper in his hands, he would scribble poetry. He encountered American poet Vachel Lindsay in 1925 and shared his poems. Impressed, Lindsay publicized his discovery of a new “busboy poet.”
That phase will be particularly familiar to Washingtonians. Started by Andy Shallal in 2005, Busboys and Poets, a famed local restaurant, bar, bookstore, coffee shop, and events venue takes its name from Langston Hughes’ unofficial nickname.
Today, you can stay in a two-bedroom presidential suite named in Langston Hughes’ honor.
In 1954, Thurgood Marshall and his colleagues stayed at the Wardman Park Hotel in unincorporated Washington, DC when he prepared and tried Brown vs. Board of Education in the Supreme Court. The hotel, then the Sheraton Park Hotel), was the only one in the city that welcomed Marshall and his colleague, Charles Hamilton, the first black lawyer to win a case before the Supreme Court. The Thurgood Marshall Boardman in the hotel commemorates the landmark visit.
Just goes to show that history is not restricted to museums and monuments; it's all around you, if you're curious enough to look!
The Marriott Wardman Park hotel is located at 2660 Woodley Road NW, in Woodley Park, not far from the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Look up, down, and all around. Adventures can be found everywhere -- if you're curious enough to look. k for it