D.C. flag flying under USA flag
Credit: Darrow Montgomery/File

The District hosted a slew of tributes and events over Memorial Day weekend to pay respect to U.S. veterans who died in service. The National Memorial Day Parade returned yesterday to Constitution Avenue NW after a two-year hiatus, featuring performances by Eli Young Band, Jimmy Kimmel, ​​Jimmie Allen, and the United States Army Band, Pershing’s Own. 

The parade’s grand marshal, Lt. Col. James H. Harvey III, is one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American pilots from the 332nd Fighter Group. Harvey and three of his pilot buddies were also chosen to fly in the Air Force’s first “Top Gun” contest in 1949. They won the propeller competition and scored the greatest number of overall points, but they didn’t receive credit for more than four decades, according to the Air Force. The competition turned fatal when one plane crashed, and both of the pilots died, the Post reports

Memorial Day wasn’t the only day of remembrance the D.C. area celebrated last weekend. The Maryland Council of Elders hosted an African Liberation Day in Baltimore on Sunday to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity on May 25, 1963, and a worldwide Pan-African movement toward unity and freedom.

This celebration has a special place in D.C. history: A half-century ago, the first ALD brought thousands of people to Malcolm X Park. They marched down 16th Street NW and U Street NW and jump-started a movement, historian George Derek Musgrove writes in the Post. Similar demonstrations were held across the U.S., in Canada, and the West Indies, but the rally in the District was the “largest and most consequential,” Musgrove writes. The rallies were a training ground for a powerful group of anti-colonial activists in D.C. who, in the 1980s, mobilized against the U.S. invasion of Grenada and against the Reagan administration’s policy toward South Africa, Namibia, Angola, and Mozambique.

“We all come together and then people start talking and they tell their stories and they find that they’re not alone,” says Abena Disroe, a core organizer of this year’s ALD and longtime healer activist and storyteller. “And within these stories … there’s organizations out there where people will say, ‘Oh, you need to talk to them, you need to talk to them.’ So it’s a way of not just being around people and positivity and healing but also getting the connections to get the help that you need.” 

On Sunday, Howard University students, Teatro La Bolsa performers, and longtime ALD organizers and observers, hopped on a bus from D.C. to Lafayette Square Park in Baltimore. Proverbs Reggae Band played rasta roots reggae, vendors offered summer BBQ fare and patties, and chants of “Africa must be free!” filled the green space. 

Rafiki Morris, MC for the day, spoke of fighting for liberation following a boxing demo by Marvin McDowell, a member of Maryland’s Boxing Hall of Fame and executive director of Umar Boxing. Teatro La Bolsa performed a theatrical piece about the work of activist Claudia Jones, encouraging audience members to participate in a scene. The theater troupe urged people to yell out suggestions about how characters should fight against oppression in a scenario involving farm workers and an exploitative supervisor.  

“This means everything to me, for unity is always the propeller to push forward. People need to come together … to talk about unity in our communities, how to organize our communities to be united for all the right reasons,” Disroe tells City Paper via text. 

—Ambar Castillo (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • D.C. firefighter Jared McKinney caught a 2-year-old boy dropped from a burning building in Southeast to save his life. D.C. firefighters also responded to an apartment fire in the 2100 block of I Street NE in Trinidad, where rookie firefighter Kojo Saunders rescued a woman. [Post]
  • A decline in community college student enrollment nationwide spells trouble for D.C.-area community colleges. [WTOP]
  • The detention facility in MPD headquarters has reportedly not had functional air-conditioning since Saturday. [NBC4]
  • A single stop sign camera in Northwest brought in $1.3 million in two years. [Post]

By Ambar Castillo (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Axios’ voter guide reveals that Mayor Muriel Bowser will spend this summer drinking lemon drops, while attorney general contender Brian Schwalb prefers tequila on the rocks, among other illuminating answers. Bowser declined to describe one thing she’d accomplish in her first year of a new term, and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson managed to use six words in a question asking candidates to answer in five words or less. [Axios]
  • Some Ward 1 observers see the race against Councilmember Brianne Nadeau heating up. Her best-funded opponent, Salah Czapary, is still fending off questions about his Republican ties. [Post]
  • Outgoing Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh endorsed Bowser for re-election. Notably, she backed At-Large Councilmember Robert White’s 2016 primary challenge to Vincent Orange. [Twitter]
  • At-large Council contender Nate Fleming says he’s seen a poll putting him ahead of Councilmember Anita Bonds when “voters are informed about this race.” [Twitter]

By Alex Koma (tips? akoma@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Dovetail, recently opened in the Viceroy hotel, has the biggest indoor/outdoor patio in D.C. [WTOP]
  • Several food and drink festivals are coming to D.C. this summer. [DCist]
  • Husband and wife duo Michael Jantz Moon and Leah Curran Moon opened a vegan bar, Botanical Bar, in Dupont last weekend. [Washingtonian]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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  • Spooky Action Theater’s artistic director is on leave of absence, according to the playhouse’s Twitter account. Is this in response to DC Metro Theater Art’s piece on toxic work conditions at the theater? [Twitter]
  • A comprehensive list of where to find jazz in June. [DCist]

By Sarah Marloff (tips? smarloff@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • The Nationals are inching pitching prospect Cole Henry through the minors despite impressive numbers. [Post]
  • Maryland men’s lacrosse won the national championship Monday and completed an undefeated season with a 9-7 win over Cornell. [ESPN]
  • D.C.’s 2023 budget includes $365 million for new and improved sports and recreation centers throughout the city. [WTOP]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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