Street Sense Media, July 29, 2019: Panel discussion highlights the need for cultural and historic preservation of black District communities
In April, the hashtag #DontMuteDC gained widespread social media recognition and sparked a new movement following the brief silencing of go-go music that the Shaw MetroPCS store has played outside its doors since 1995. A resident of the Shay, a recently constructed high-end apartment complex, had made complaints that resulted in an order from parent company T-Mobile to bring the store’s speakers inside.
Haynesworth’s latest project, “Black Broadway on U,” blends various mediums and cultural storytelling techniques to maintain the history of U-Street, which was once a financially and culturally affluent neighborhood. It was established and predominantly maintained by black Americans throughout the Jim Crow era.
The main inspiration for the project came from Haynesworth’s grandmother, Lucille Dawson, who felt compelled to open up about her life and the history of U Street after hardly recognizing it when driving down the street with Haynesworth in 2013. Dawson had migrated to the city from Louisiana in 1932 when she was 12. Several of the places she had danced in and worked at while growing up had vanished.
Earlier this year, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition released a report that found the District suffered the most widespread low-income displacement of any major central city since 2000.