Celebrating Black History Month in the District of Columbia

Cross-posted from The Citizen Reader

“Commemorating the History of the United States of America”

Photo of the Carter G. Woodson House National Historic Site at 1538 9th St. NW. The red brick house on the left is the Woodson Home, the yellow buildings on the right were incorporated into the site when the National Park Service, with the help of Delegate Norton and many others, undertook the preservation of this location of American history. Guided tours are offered on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9, 10 and 11 am and 1, 2, 3, and 4 pm.  

Visit www.nps.gov/cawo or call 202-426-5961 for more information.

“History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.”

James Baldwin, Black English: A Dishonest Argument”

From Council member McDuffie’s Ward 5 Report of February 8, 2018:

“We have already honored Robert C. Weaver, who was born and raised in Brookland and would later become the first African American to serve in a cabinet-level position in United States history. We talked about Lucy Diggs Slowe, a pioneer in education and women’s rights who was the first dean of women at Howard University and lived on the 1200 block of Kearny Street NE. We learned about Woodridge resident William T. Fauntroy, a Tuskegee Airman who Councilmember McDuffie honored with a Ceremonial Resolution from the D.C. Council last year. And we highlighted the fact that blues and rock ‘n roll icon Bo Diddley lived and recorded in a home on Rhode Island Avenue NE.”

More commemorations around the city

“Malcom, Martin, Medgar”

February 22nd at 10 am and 1 pm
THEARC Theater, 1901 Mississippi Avenue, SE
Written and Produced by A. Peter Bailey
Directed and Produced by Carol Mumin of OFTON
& starring members of the Shabazz Family

Ticket Price: $15.00. Contact OFTON at 202-387-5100


History of Place: Barry Farm/Hillsdale, a Post-Bellum African American Community
Friday, February 23, 2018
11 am to 12 pm
Sumner Museum and Archives
1201 17th St. NW at M St
To register, call 202-633-4844

“Approximately 40,000 African American refugees came into Washington during the Civil War. They were destitute when they arrived, and the majority of them had to settle first on the streets and later on makeshift housing built from discarded materials. Anacostia Community Museum curator, Alcione Amos examines the establishment of the historic southeast community of Barry Farms/Hillsdale by the Freedman’s Bureau in 1867 to help with this problem.”

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. “
                               MLK, Jr.

#MeToo in D.C.’s Ward 8

Grassroots DC, in collaboration with Reclaiming Our Bodies DC and Collective Action for Safe Spaces, will be screening the documentary Triggered:  Street Harassment and Rape Culture in D.C.’s Ward 8, because the #MeToo movement is different East of the Anacostia River.


Since revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein came to light, there has been a​ ​litany​ ​of​ ​men​ ​​accused​ of, or admitting outright to ​being sexual predators.  An alien studying the planet by monitoring the mainstream media might ​believe​ ​that​ ​only​ ​white​ ​women​ ​are​ ​victims​ ​of sexual​ ​harassment​ ​and​ ​assault.​  In truth, Black women and other women of color are valued less in our society and so their stories rarely make it to the airwaves.  But something began in the summer of 2017 that challenges these assumptions about Black women.

On July 23, 2017, community activist Schyla Pondexter-Moore and her two teen-aged daughters attempted to get a meal from a food table in the Bellevue neighborhood of Ward 8.  A local nonprofit, founded by Black men native to the District, set up the table once a month in the parking lot of the neighborhood shopping center.  Instead of getting a meal, Schyla’s 16-year-old daughter was harassed, followed and threatened physically by a group of men.   Rather than stopping the harassment, the men from the nonprofit running the community food table joined in.


Triggered-2The incident led to a Speak-Out Against Street Harassment organized by a group of Black women who came together in the same parking lot where the incident occurred, to speak out against street harassment and rape culture.  Grassroots Media DC documented the event on video, capturing the perspectives of people who were there—those who agreed, those who vehemently disagreed and those somewhere in the middle.  The result is the 30-minute documentary Triggered:  Street Harassment and Rape Culture in D.C.’s Ward 8.  The event itself was both powerful and telling.  Should Black women and girls have agency over their bodies and lives?  ​For many, the answer is not so obvious.

Triggered-3The organizers hoped that women from the neighborhood, being all too familiar with street harassment, would be able to speak about their experiences, validate each other and come together to demand change.  As is clear in the video, it starts out that way but ultimately, the forces in play that keep rape culture firmly entrenched in low-income, African-American communities, overwhelm everyone’s best efforts.

The​ ​premiere​ ​screening​ ​of​ ​Triggered​ ​took​ ​place​ ​November​ ​9th​ ​at​ ​the Greenleaf public housing complex in Southwest​ ​Washington,​ ​D.C.​ ​ The​ ​film’s​ ​evocative​ ​subject ​allowed​ ​many​ ​women​ ​in​ ​attendance to​ ​share​ ​their​ ​personal​ ​stories​ ​of​ sexual harassment, abuse and assault.  ​The​ ​post​ ​screening discussion​ ​lasted​ ​for​ ​almost​ ​two​ ​hours.

The ​dialogue​ ​​needs​ ​to​ ​continue.​  ​Clearly, the Speak-Out touched on issues that reach beyond that one incident.  While most of the media focuses on sexual harassment among the political elites and Hollywood insiders, the rest of us are dealing with it in the streets.  More safe​ ​spaces​ ​must be made ​available​ ​for​ ​women​ ​and​ ​girls​ to discuss not only victimization but also survival. Grassroots DC invites you to join the discussion.  We intend to hold more screenings and discussions starting in 2018.  Together we will uncover the truths behind street harassment and the wider problem of rape culture.

Our next screening will be at Covenant Baptist Church, just two blocks from the location of the original incident of harassment and the speak-out.  Join us.

Triggered:  Street Harassment and Rape Culture in D.C.’s Ward 8
Screening and Panel Discussion
Thursday, February 8, 2017
6:00 – 8:30 Pm
Covenant Baptist Church
3845 South Capitol Street SW
Washington, DC 20032

Scheduled Panelists Include:

Schyla Pondexter-Moore: Affordable housing and anti-harassment activist with Reclaiming Our Bodies DC.

Aja Taylor: Affordable housing advocate at Bread for the City and an anti-harassment activist with Reclaiming Our Bodies DC.

Tony Lewis, Jr.: DC native and author of the book Slugg: A Boys’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Steve Hicks: Co-director of Collective Action for Safe Spaces’ Rethinking Masculinity Program

Dr. Pamela Brewer: Clinical Social Worker and Therapist, and host of long-running podcast MyndTalk.

Dr. Zelaika Clarke: Staff social worker at the DC Center for the LGBT Community

For more information or to request a screening for your organization contact liane@grassrootsdc.org.

DC State Fair (Who Knew?)

Sunday, September 24, in Southwest Washington, DC, will see the arrival of the eighth annual DC State Fair from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. At Waterfront Station, the public is invited to enjoy contests that crown the city’s best growers, crafters, and cooks; performances from local musicians and dance troupes; and more than 55 food, art, and craft vendors showcasing and selling their wares.

DC State Fair

This daylong celebration of all things homegrown is unique among local fairs and festivals: it is run entirely by volunteers, is free to attend, and is held in different neighborhoods from year to year, making the Fair accessible to all DC residents and visitors. This year, the DC State Fair is located at the Waterfront Metro Station at 375 and 425 M Street SW.

Black August Finale

Black August is almost over.  What is Black August?  I found the following at The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement:

“Each year officially since 1979 we have used the month of August to focus on the oppressive treatment of our brothers and sisters disappeared inside the state-run gulags and concentration camps America calls prisons. It is during this time that we concentrate our efforts to free our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, and all other captive family and friends who have been held in isolation for decade after decade beyond their original sentence. Many of these individuals are held in the sensory deprivation and mind control units called Security Housing Units (S.H.U. Program), without even the most basic of human rights.” – Shaka At-Thinnin Black August Organizing Committee from “THE ROOTS OF BLACK AUGUST”

If you haven’t made it to any events yet this month, here’s your opportunity to make it to one final event.   

black august finale

U.S. Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War… Who Knew?

What do the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, the Move Organization and Black Lives Matter have in common?  They have all been denounced and delegitimized by the corporate establishment and mainstream media.

The Civil Rights and Revolutionary Struggles of the ‘60s and 70s challenged American racism, classism and sexism.  They also disrupted our imperialist foreign policy.   Eventually, the United States Government brought down or seriously humbled the Black Panthers, the Anti-Vietnam War Movement, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, the American Indian Movement, etc.  Many leaders were jailed.   Will the current struggle face the same fate?

In the late 1990s, a movement to free all U.S. political prisoners and prisoners of war began to take root.  Several wide scale political actions took place in Washington, DC and Philadelphia.  Filmmakers, Liane Scott, Joan Yoshiwara, Eddie Becker and Jorge Abeledo covered these events.  The result is The Walls of Jericho and the Movement That’s Shaking Them, a two-hour documentary, that includes activists protesting on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, the Move 9, the Puerto Rican Political Prisoners, Black Panthers Russel Maroon Shoats and Eddie Conway and many more.


Revolutionary thinkers Kathleen Cleaver, Carl Dix, Chokwe Lumumba, Angela Davis, Ramona Africa all weigh in on the state of the movement and the related issues of police brutality and the prison industrial complex.   Rank and file activists also share their knowledge and opinions. The Walls of Jericho serves as a popular education primer on political prisoners jailed as a result of the civil and human rights uprisings of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

It cannot be denied that in the last half century, racism, heterosexism, xenophobia, etc. have become less overt.   But at the same time, US military misadventures migrated from Central America and Southeast Asia to the oil-rich Middle East.  The planet’s resources continue to be assaulted.  Police brutality and mass incarceration replaced Jim Crow.   The revolutionary work that blossomed in the ‘60s and ‘70s is not finished.  Tactics used to disrupt activism of the past are and will be used again.

We invite you to join us at this screening of The Walls of Jericho and the Movement That’s Shaking Them and the follow up discussion.  In the spirit of Sankofa, we will learn from the past and move even more boldly into a future shaped by the people and not the forces of oligarchy.

Below is a segment from the documentary that focuses on police brutality.