D.C.

Dovey Roundtree, civil rights leader profile

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When it comes to black history, Dovey Roundtree is a living legend. According to author Katie McCabe, Roundtree was mentored by Mary McLeod Bethune, Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Pauline Murray and Thurgood Marshall.

And Roundtree’s resume is full of service. She’s a retired army captain, an ordained minister and community activist and lawyer. In her own words, she was dedicated to helping those who needed her help.

Roundtree moved to D.C. in 1947 to study law at Howard University. In a short time she became one of the premiere defense attorneys in the district. Her case load took her from district court to the Supreme Court, trying the historic civil rights case that opened interstate bus travel to blacks.

While retirement has taken her back to her Carolina roots, her love for Washington D.C. still remains and in just a few weeks that love will be reciprocated.

The new Roundtree Residences is almost complete. The building, on Alabama Avenue Southeast, has more than 100 affordable units. It’s located on the street where Dovey Roundtree called home for so many years.

“Even after she moved across the Anacostia River to live in Northwest nearer to the court houses, this was her neighborhood,” said author Katie McCabe.

The residences were built across the street from Allen Chapel AME, the church Roundtree preached at for decades. It will open in March, a month before Roundtree's 99th birthday.

Roundtree's family is waiting to surprise her with the news. The aging icon has lost her sight and is now at an assisted living facility in Charlotte.

While Roundtree will never see this building that bears her name, her family says her presence is in every corner and will remain there even when she's gone.

“I will describe every detail that I can possibly do to let her feel it, see it, and know it,” said Charlene Pritchett-Stevenson, Roundtree’s goddaughter. “And especially the love that went into making this happen for her.”

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