Join us for a new series of stories from the Center for Local History highlighting members of our community who made a difference in ways that helped shape our history and created positive change.
Their voices were not always loud, but what they said or did had a significant impact on our community.
Leonard “Doc” Muse
Leonard “Doc” Muse (1923-2017), was an African-American pharmacist and social activist, and the owner of Green Valley Pharmacy, a neighborhood institution whose importance extended far beyond that of a typical pharmacy.
Muse was born in Florida, served in World War II, and then used his GI benefits to attend the Howard University School of Pharmacy. In 1952, along with partner Waverly Jones, he purchased the property which was formerly Hyman’s Grocery, and opened the Green Valley Pharmacy. In addition to being a drug store and filling prescriptions for the neighborhood, it functioned as a gathering place featuring a lunch counter which provided free meals every Wednesday afternoon and on occasion providing free prescriptions for those unable to afford them.
With this role in the community came the challenge of dealing with myriad interests and pressures, but Muse negotiated these rough waters with determination and skill.
Green Valley Pharmacy
In an oral history conducted by the Center for Local History, when asked about his motivation to become a pharmacist, Muse said:
“Oh, it’s a long story. I was a kid, and the lady next door…asked me to go and get a prescription filled for her…I got there, I was tired, and I went to sit down, and that guy told me, “You can’t sit here.” So I went out and sat on the sidewalk until they filled the prescription. And I had the idea, I said, well, we need a pharmacy where we can sit wherever we want to –“.
Green Valley Pharmacy was named as a Historic Landmark by the Arlington County Board in 2013, and Muse received a Community Appreciation Award from the Arlington NAACP, and continuing to work and be a constant presence until his death in 2017.
Green Valley Pharmacy 2008
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