Easter eve found Geraldine Price, mother of five, hemming pants, rolling daughters' hair in curlers and laying out the family's Easter Sunday clothes.
Before dawn her husband James, a former railroad chef turned construction worker, started preparing Easter Sunday dinner, complete with collard greens and ham.
And finally, after weeks of preparation, the sun rose on Easter. For many families like the Prices, the day's script followed traditions -- a church service, a family dinner, picture taking and strolling through the neighborhood in one's own Easter parade.
"My mother had nine children and I remember how she used to get us ready for Easter Sunday, said Geraldine Price, a deeply religious woman who works with a local Head Start program. "I guess in many ways I am just like her."
After fussing with 9-year-old Norman about his Sunday School speech, lending 16-year-old Sharelita her purse and pearls and helping 11-year-old Tonya buckle the straps of her shiny patent-leather shoes, Price said she felt a little proud.
"I looked at them going out the door looking so nice and I said, 'Thank you, Jesus,' thinking how He always keeps us going," she said. "Just a month ago, my husband was out of a job, I had the children's Easter clothes on layaway and I worried about how it was all going to work out. But my husband found another job two weeks ago, and I was able to find the $300 total for the kids's Easter clothes."
At the Southern Baptist Church, two blocks from Price's town house in the Sursum Corda ("Lift Up Our Hearts" in Latin) housing project, worshippers in Easter finery jammed the sanctuary long before the regular morning worship began.
They were there in prayer and praise, joined by a throng of visitors who, as in many churches, show up only for religioius holidays.
As the Gospel choir sang "Thank you, thank you, Jesus Blessed be Thy name," church men and women, some wearing new spring straw hats in all the colors of the rainbow, fanned themselves with donated paper fans. "You woke me up this morning and started me on my way/I want to thank you Lork/for one more day," the choir sang, as women started clapping and several began to cry.
A woman in a mink stole and green straw hat began to clap and sway in her seat as the choir's song crescendoed, taking emotions along with it.
"Somebody needs you this morning," yelled the Rev. Charles H. Doom as a dozen members of the congregation began to "feel the holy spirit" and cry, jump from their seats and pace the aisles.
"Somebody burdened here today," the Rev. Mr. Doom said, half preaching, half singing. "Oh, we call on you, Jesus, because we know there is no one else we can call on.
"As we are walking through the rough roads of life, we need someone to lift us up from the darkness into light," Doom said. "I come by this morning the tell you who that someone is -- "that same jesus who fed the hungry, healed the sick."
Sitting in the church balcony surrounded by her children, Price began to wave her arms in the air.She closed her eyes and cried and then, moments later, she, too, was "shouting."
Later at home, she remembered, "[Doom] preached that the Lord walks with you when you need someone to talk to. I felt the spirit this morning knowing that the Lord has opened doors for me and has helped when times are hard."
About half a block away, a group of men stood on a balcony, drinking beer and teasing each other good-naturedly, all of them dressed for Easter.
Andre Black, 17, of 1101 First Ter. NW, sat on a bench in the Sursum Corda playground. He was dressed in his new Easter suit and small-brim felt hat, but his brown wing tip shoes were beside him on the bench.
"They hurt, man," he said. "I'm going to stay dressed up till aboaut eleven because I have a lot of visiting to do. Maybe later on I can play ball with some of my buddies.