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Feb. 27: Anthony Bowen Opens First YMCA Chapter for African-Americans in D.C.

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(Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

(Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

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Every day during the month of February, WPGC will feature an important moment in Black history.  These daily vignettes are read by local children in the District and surrounding areas.

On Feb. 27, 1853, Anthony Bowen founded the first YMCA chapter for African- Americans in Washington, D.C.  Bowen was enslaved before earning his freedom in 1830 and relocating to the D.C. area.  In doing so, he allowed his home to be a stop on the Underground Railroad, helping runaway slaves survive.  In 1853, the Twelfth Street YMCA building was erected, later being renamed the Anthony Bowen YMCA and becoming a historical landmark in 1994.

Bowen also helped in creating the St. Paul AME Church and even encouraged Abraham Lincoln to enlist African-American soldiers into the Armed Forces.

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