A still from Go-Go City showing Backyard Band.
Backyard Band performing at the Juneteenth March and Rally organized by Don’t Mute DC. Credit: Samuel George/The Bertelsmann Foundation

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Go-Go City: Displacement and Protest in Washington, D.C.

Bertelsmann Foundation documentary filmmaker Samuel George’s compelling new project, Go-Go City: Displacement and Protest in Washington, D.C., doesn’t spend much time on go-go’s remarkable history, focusing instead on the role that the music played during last summer’s Black Lives Matter and anti-Trump protests. The dynamic beat of go-go provided the soundtracks for many of those street protests, and George does an excellent job of capturing the intensity of those demonstrations as well as the righteous fury that fueled them. With an extended section on the final days of Horace and Dickie’s, the beloved H Street fried fish carryout that was forced to close its flagship location’s doors last March, George ably connects the dots between systemic anti-Black racism and relentless gentrification, reminding viewers that just as Black lives matter, so, too, do Black neighborhoods and Black-owned businesses. A skilled filmmaker who deftly juxtaposes images to underscore his themes, George incorporates footage of interviews with Don’t Mute DC’s Ron Moten and Natalie Hopkinson, Long Live GoGo’s Justin “Yaddiya” Johnson, community activist and artist Sabiyha Prince, Backyard Band‘s Anwan “Big G” Glover, Experience Unlimited’s Gregory “Sugar Bear” Elliott, Trouble Funk’s “Big” Tony Fisher, and many others. While the film would have benefitted from the inclusion of the bounce beat artists who have played at the majority of these rallies, it is nonetheless a worthwhile addition to the canon of go-go documentaries. Tonight at 7 p.m., the Bertelsmann Foundation teams up with Don’t Mute DC to present a free virtual screening of Go-Go City followed by a performance by Backyard Band and a discussion with Moten, Hopkinson, Big G, and George. The event begins at 7 p.m. on Dec. 17. Registration is required via Zoom. Free.