DC Office of Human Rights Newsletter | Volume IX | February 2019
DC is Black History:
A Brief History of the City Formerly Known as
Chocolate City
Beyond the monuments, ornate architecture and political rhetoric of Washington, DC, everywhere you look there is a piece of black history. For example, the Lincoln Memorial is the same site where the groundbreaking, "I Have a Dream" speech was delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963. 1 Those enslaved in DC, over 3,000 people, got their freedom early on April 16, 1862 and now this occasion has become an annual citywide celebration called Emancipation Day. 2 After the Civil War during Reconstruction in 1867, the Freedman's Bureau established Barry Farms, a 375-acre plot of land for freed slaves and free Blacks to purchase plots, build homes and schools, and establish a community. A portion of the land sales helped fund the creation of the renowned Howard University. 3 Right around the corner (on what is now W Street SE), Frederick Douglass, a former slave, abolitionist, orator, and author, made his home on Cedar Hill in 1877 until his death in 1895. The site is now managed by the National Park Service, who offer guided tours of his restored home. 4 Due to white flight and suburbanization, DC became the first major city with a majority Black population in 1957, which peaked in the 1970s at 71% and is why it earned the nickname " Chocolate City ". 5 A number of revered entertainers, musicians and artists are DC natives, including Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Brown, Taraji P. Henson and Dave Chappelle. DC is a very inclusive and diverse city, but it also has a very rich history of Black excellence. Take some time out this month and explore that history. Stop by the National Museum of African American History and Culture or the African American Civil War Museum . However you celebrate Black History Month, let us honor the Black men and women who built this great nation with their blood, their tears, and their labor, as well as those fighting everyday for equity and human rights.
Trait of the Month: Race
This protected trait makes it illegal to discriminate against someone based on a person's classification or association based on
a person’s ancestry or ethnicity. For more information or to file a complaint, visit our website; ohr.dc.gov .
This Month's Spotlight
#LivingBlackHistory is a project to showcase people making Black history everyday the whole month of February and beyond. The series is powered by The Wave , a platform created for young professionals of color to share resources and information, as well as gather for fun and fellowship.

Join the DC Center, DC Anti-Violence Project, and Center Arts for Beyond Bars: Poetry and Performance of Formerly Incarcerated LGBTQ Folx on February 20th from 7pm to 9pm at Busboys and Poets (14th St). This night will be filled with poetry, comedy, performance and testimony from those with lived experience. Come support the community and the amazing performers!  This event is free to attend, please RSVP below.

MLK Day of Service
On January 30th, staff from OHR participated in a Day of Service in honor of the sacrifice and activism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We chose Bread for the City's Southeast location because of the great work they do for the city's most vulnerable populations. This includes a food pantry, clothing center for various seasons, legal services, healthcare programs, and social services. We had a blast sorting clothing donations and working in the food pantry. We must have sorted, folded or hung almost half a ton of clothing items (everything from hats and scarves to Halloween costumes).
Director's Note
Dear Neighbors and Partners,
 
Frederick Douglass, the Lion of Anacostia and the greatest American of the 19th Century, once state, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” The teaching of Black history and the celebration of Black History Month is one of the ways that we can “build strong children.”

This year marks the 400th anniversary of when Africans were first brought to Jamestown, Virginia, which sowed the seeds of inequality in our country for Black people. To be sure the story of people of African descent does not begin with slavery, for the contributions made to this world before The Mayflower are numerous.

There is story to be told of a people, a strong people, a brilliant and beautiful people who in spite of all the efforts to destroy them, not only survived, but thrived. These stories have to be shared over and over again. Our children need to hear them. In fact, we need to hear each other’s stories, because by doing so we come to understand ourselves better. "If you don’t know African American history, then you don’t know American history.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of a “beloved community.” Our children are our hope for achieving it and teaching them the rich history of African Americans, the full history will advance us.They are ‘the future tense of our humanity.” Let us celebrate Black History Month, our future depends on it.
 
Yours in service,
Rev. Thomas Bowen
Acting Director of the Mayor's Office on African American Affairs
Director of the Mayor's Office on Religious Affairs
DC Office of Human Rights | 202.727.4559 | ohr.dc.gov