A Community That Preys and Prays’

Welcome to D.C.’s Ward 8

     The historical Southeast section of the District of Columbia, a long-standing over 90 percent African American stronghold, is one of change and fight.

     Ward 8 constituents, though, are faithful to their way of life and their neighborhood, as well as their councilman, former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who has reigned for years since his step down from mayor of the city. To Ward 8 it seems, Barry is the most trusted man to represent the ward in front of the city’s council despite opposition who tried to take him out this past election.

     But change looms for Ward 8, and is making haste to displace many of the area’s lifelong residents because of the city’s plans to renew, rebuild on and revitalize downtrodden neighborhoods. Some call this change great while others call it a coup. Either way, Ward 8 falls right in the center of it all.

From the already heavily-developed “pre-underpass” neighborhoods to the older, more residential – and more Black – neighborhoods inside the street of Martin Luther King Jr., Good Hope, Barry Farm and Congress Heights, certain target areas for change weigh heavily on the neighborhoods’ heart: the people. Will they be pushed out? Will renewing the city renew their spirit or remove their history?

     At local community gatherings in police stations, churches and elementary schools, residents want change, but in a different direction. With help from city workers like the Metropolitan police and fire departments, the neighborhoods have been under watch for crime and safety. Mandates have also been put into motion to streamline violence, a historic problem in the section of the city, and to make the community come together on more than just common complaints.

     It’s like being in a modern Harlem Renaissance. Kids play in open fire hydrant wanter in the summer.

     Parents work during the day, talk and laugh during the evenings, braid their children’s hair on the porch of their homes at night.

     Reform-minded community leaders do their best to see that their community’s people are treated fair under a newly changing city.

     Just one more day to live in Southeast.