News

2019: The Year That Was

JANUARY

U.S. Stalled by Government Shutdown

The new year began with a federal government shutdown.

Top leaders from both the House and Senate met with President Donald Trump for a briefing about Trump’s controversial border wall and, as he said in a tweet, to “make a deal.”

The Jan. 2 meeting came on the heels of the 12th day of a partial federal government shutdown, leaving a quarter of the government closed and 800,000 federal workers furloughed or forced to work without pay.

Democrats, who were poised to take control of the House, said they had a plan to reopen the government, which didn’t include the $5 billion requested by the president for his wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Winter’s Fury Unable to Derail King Celebrations

Freezing temperatures and stiff winds didn’t sway the spirits of a multiracial caravan that came down Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast to celebrate the federal holiday of the famed civil rights leader, who would have turned 90 in 2019.

Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council members and numerous community leaders strode down Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue during the city’s annual MLK Peace Walk and Parade, which included community organizations, youth groups, go-go performances and the Ballou Senior High School marching band.

“Every part of the city celebrates Dr. King’s life and we are challenged by his legacy to do more,” Bowser said.

The community groups were certainly building bridges across the Anacostia River during the parade, as politicians and veteran community activists walked in a joyful procession along MLK Avenue and Good Hope Road to the St. Elizabeths campus, now a hub for community events.

FEBRUARY

Generosity Benefits HU Seniors

Before Rev. Dr. John-Howard Wesley preached his sermon at Howard University’s Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel on Feb. 3, he made a major presentation before students and worshipers.

Wesley, pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church, presented an oversized check of $100,000 for the university’s “gap scholarship” to cover unpaid balances for 34 graduating seniors. Individual debt among the students ranged from $3,000 to $10,000.

The donated funds were from a “love offering” given by parishioners after a monthlong fasting and cleansing process, in which half of the church’s 8,000 parishioners participated.

“We are happy to sow this money into Howard University so that these seniors can graduate and walk across the stage in May,” Wesley said.

Police Protection or Harassment

Years ago, as Black Lives Matter DC railed against the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), core organizer April Goggans often posted online about a marked police car parked in front of her home and other instances of alleged intimidation.

Her lawsuit against MPD, two years in the making and revived in February, revolves around a 9,000-page dossier that police department officials refuse to release.

The outcome of the civil suit, predicted to end in early April, boils down to the question of what constitutes as “monitoring and surveillance” as expressed by Goggans in her initial Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Once again, interpretations of that term were the focal point of a hearing in February in D.C. District Court.

“The Metropolitan Police Department has 9,000 pages of documents it knows contains April’s name, Twitter handle, and street address,” said Andrew Mendrala, supervising attorney and teaching fellow at Georgetown Law Civil Rights Clinic.

MARCH

Change Comes Again to D.C. Public Schools

A little over a year after Antwan Wilson resigned as D.C. Public Schools chancellor, the city council unanimously approved Mayor Muriel Bowser’s selection of former Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee to lead a D.C. system mired in more than a decade of controversy.

The March vote culminated a monthlong process that tested Ferebee’s ability to convince elected officials, teachers, parents, students and community members of his qualifications and dedication to implementing new ideas and closing an ever-persistent achievement gap.

Despite initial reservations, Ferebee had a believer in Ward 8 Council member Trayon White (D), who called for all hands on deck as Ferebee, no longer acting chancellor at this point, embarks on the new leg of his professional journey.

Virginia Legislators Take One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The controversial blackface and sexual assault scandals that have rocked the Virginia leadership and the drama that regularly surrounds President Donald Trump simply act as distractions, said Rep. Bobby Scott during a speech in March.

Those distractions lead the media and others to take their eyes off what’s vital to everyday life, particularly for African Americans, said Scott, chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

The Virginia Democrat highlighted two important bills he spearheaded that received little or no attention.

His committee voted in favor of the Rebuild America’s School Act, which would provide about $100 billion for school infrastructure, and Scott and his colleagues also advanced the Paycheck Fairness Act, which toughens penalties that businesses face for gender-pay disparities.

“The first thing we have to do is focus on the issues,” Scott said. “We can’t spend all of our time talking about [the scandals] and not talking about equity in education. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be able to succeed in life if denied an opportunity of an education [and] that such an opportunity is a right that must be equal for all.”

The congressman’s comments and the advancement of the Rebuild America’s School Act come as a new report revealed that white school districts receive $23 billion more in funding than non-white districts despite serving the same number of students.

The report highlighted that despite more than a half-century of integration efforts, the majority of America’s schoolchildren still attend racially concentrated school systems.

Georgetown University Makes Amends

An online petition in March garnered well over 17,000 signatures as an alum of Georgetown University called for the school to rescind admissions and degrees from students linked to the widespread $25 million college admissions bribery scam.

Georgetown alum Mickey Lee created the petition.

“I implore the administration to rescind admissions and any degrees conferred to all students involved in this scandal,” Lee wrote in the petition. “In addition, a written public apology needs to be made to all university alumni and students as well as applicants/families of those who were deferred or not admitted at these cheaters’ expense.”

APRIL

Nats Blanked in Season Opener

The Washington Nationals opened the 2019 season not only with a loss, but didn’t score a run against the New York Mets at Nationals Park in Southeast. However, the Nationals shook off a dismal 19-31 start all the way to the franchise’s first World Series title. A parade attracted hundreds of thousands of people who flocked to downtown D.C. and sported the team’s red and white colors. Destination DC estimated the city garnered more than $8 billion for hosting World Series games 3, 4 and 5. Pitcher Stephen Strasburg, 31, won the Most Valuable Player award and signed a big seven-year, $245 million contract in the offseason to stay in the District. National League Championship Series MVP Howie Kendrick will also remain with the team. Unfortunately, third basemen Anthony Rendon moved on via free agency, signing a lucrative contract with the Los Angeles Angels in the American League. Although the two teams play in different leagues, they will face each other for a three-game series May 11-13 on the West Coast.

#DontMuteDC

New residents who moved to a Northwest neighborhood requested a MetroPCS business to turn down the volume on the District’s popular go-go music. Word spread through social media via the creation of “#DontMuteDC” by Howard University student Julianne Bluefield of New Jersey. The movement garnered more than 50,000 signatures that led to a protest outside the business at 7th and U streets, at least three impromptu protests along U Street and conversations about community resources, housing and gentrification. That led to D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) introducing legislation that would make go-go the official music of the District. The bill would also help create education programs and archive the music’s history. In November, at least 40 people testified in support of the bill during a more than two-hour meeting. The heavily percussion sound continues to percolate with bands performing throughout the D.C. region. The full council isn’t expected to vote on the bill until early next year.

Busch Mourned as Md. General Assembly Ends

Michael Busch, Maryland’s longest-tenured House speaker, died April 7 at the age of 72. The former high school football coach received praise from both Democrats and Republicans for allowing passionate, but cordial debate. In one of his last bills, lawmakers passed legislation to revamp the University of Maryland Medical Systems board of directors that faced scrutiny after allegations of personal conduct. Busch’s successor, Adrienne Jones of Baltimore County, became the first African American and first woman chosen as the chamber’s presiding officer. Jones, who served as second-in-command under Busch, will serve her first, full 90-day session as speaker when the General Assembly convenes Jan. 8.

Norton Gets Powerful Backing in Push for D.C. Statehood

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton push for statehood received some support from the city’s attorney general, Karl Racine, who announced 20 other fellow attorneys general throughout the country also back the cause. Norton introduced H.R. 51 in January to grant the city’s more than 700,000 residents the same rights as citizens in the other 50 states with senators and representatives allowed to vote on federal legislation. The District’s fight to become the 51st state made history with a September hearing held on Capitol Hill, the first such hearing since 1993. Although Democrats regained command of the House in 2018, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke in favor of the legislation, the GOP controls the Senate, and Majority Leader Mitchell McConnell has called the District’s push for statehood a form of “socialism.”

MAY

Ben’s Chili Bowl Co-Founder Honored

Virginia Ali, co-founder of Ben’s Chili Bowl with late husband Ben Ali, received the Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award for her 60-year career with the restaurant on U Street. The business remains the city’s longest-run family-owned establishment. The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington recognized Ben’s Chili Bowl during a reception in May. Ali was formally acknowledged at the association’s 37th annual RAMMYs gala on June 30. Ben’s has operations in Northern Virginia, at Nationals Park in Southeast and on H Street NE. The business also runs the Ben’s Chili Bowl Foundation after the death of Ben Ali in 2009. Former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams said Ali is part of the District’s history. “Virginia is a great feature and so emblematic of the heart and soul of Washington, D.C. Really, so much of the story of Washington, D.C., so much of our city’s history could be told at Ben’s Chili Bowl.”

Howard’s Newest Graduates Continue a Tradition of Excellence

Howard University, one of the nation’s premier historically Black colleges and universities and overall schools in the nation, held its 151st commencement convocation May 11. This year’s ceremony showcased women represented 67 percent of the graduates. Former Atlanta Mayor and Howard alum Kasim Reed, who served as the keynote speaker, told the students a short story on how friendships at Howard can last a lifetime, such as one with Andy Young when Reed ran his first mayoral campaign: “He told me I had been on his mind and he wanted to make sure I was doing fine. He said, ‘If you’re not OK, then I’m not OK.’ He had my back. That was the encouragement I need to take the reins again in my campaign and push forward to victory. That’s what I received because of my years at Howard University.”

Morehouse Grads Euphoric over Generous Student-Loan Gift

In one of the most heartfelt stories in the nation this year, billionaire philanthropist Robert F. Smith spoke May 19 as commencement speaker at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Near the end of his 35-minute speech, he said his family promised to eliminate an estimated $40 million in student loans for the graduates. It equates to about $100,000 per student. Brandon Manor, a Morehouse student from the D.C. region, recalled that he “screamed. I stood up. I smiled.” Manor has said he plans to conduct research for two years in the National Institutes of Health’s Intramural Research Training Award program in Bethesda. The gift gave nearly 400 Morehouse “brothers” at the all-male institution a life without student loan debt after graduation. As for Smith, the college announced in September he would cover educational loans taken out by the graduates’ parents. Debt cancellation has become a topic among the Democratic presidential candidates to help future students succeed financially after college. How to eliminate student debt, particularly for Black families with limited financial resources that apply for federal loans to pay for college, continues to be discussed.

Bowie State University Brings Ceremony Back to Campus

Bowie State University held its spring commencement on May 24 on its own campus for the first time in seven years. Maryland’s oldest historically Black institution had held its previous ceremonies about 15 miles away at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus due to logistics, space and other challenges. When Aminta H. Breaux became Bowie president in 2017, one of her priorities would be to bring commencement celebrations back to the campus. Last month, the school opened the first Saxbys coffee company exclusively managed by students as part of the company’s “Experimental Learning Program” it established in Pennsylvania. Bowie became not only the company’s first college to partner with Saxbys in another state, but also the first at an HBCU. Meanwhile, alumni and supporters of Bowie State and the other three Maryland HBCUs will continue fight for equitable funding based on a 13-year-old lawsuit. Gov. Larry Hogan offered a $200 million settlement, but the plaintiffs in the lawsuit presented a $577 million compromise. State lawmakers are scheduled to present legislation when the General Assembly convenes this month as a way to secure some funding.

JUNE

D.C. Councilman Sponsors Bill to Give Felons the Vote

D.C. Councilman Robert White (D-At Large) announced a proposal on June 4 to present legislation that would allow incarcerated citizens to vote. Maine and Vermont are the only two states that don’t have laws against felons voting. White’s bill would affect about 6,000 District residents who are housed in federal prisons because the District doesn’t operate them. The legislation focuses on a 1955 felony disenfranchisement effort led by the federal government that became law. In Maryland, felons’ voting rights are restored upon release from prison. The Virginia governor grants approval to returning citizens housed in the commonwealth. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine both support voting rights for all citizens. Meanwhile, dozens of people attended a hearing in October before the council’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee to express support for White’s bill. “The progress of democracy that we are fighting for today is the next step in a long journey,” White said. “The right to vote is the most fundamental right in a democracy.”

Mystics Win at Home

The Washington Mystics won its first game on June 1 at the newly established Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast. The 4,300-seat arena provided an intimate setting along with a raucous crowd that saw the team break WBNA team and personal records this season. After being swept in the 2018 WNBA Finals, the Mystics returned this year with the motto “Run it Back.” It worked, as Washington won the franchise’s first championship in October and the city’s third professional sports championship in two years. The team held a rally Oct. 11, just one day after winning the championship, because several players had commitments to play overseas in the offseason. A parade for the Mystics will likely be scheduled in the spring. Besides the team celebrating in the District, some players and head coach Mike Thibault appeared on “Good Morning America.” Mystics forward and WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne threw out the ceremonial first pitch during the Washington Nationals playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The same month the Mystics won in October, the Nationals won the World Series, leading Mayor Muriel Bowser to proclaim, “We are the city of champions.”

Alsobrooks Lauds Prince George’s Strength in First State of the County Address

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks made her first State of the County Address June 11, highlighting the county’s strength in economic development, collaboration and jobs. As Alsobrooks outlined a few statistics, such as an increase in the household median income to $81,000 and the unemployment rate dropping to nearly 4 percent, she thanked former County Executive Rushern L. Baker III. Several projects that continue under his administration include construction of the regional medical center in Largo and a children’s outpatient center at Woodmore Towne Center in Glenarden. After her address, she worked with the county council to approve a $4.3 billion fiscal 2020 budget with no tax increase. She has publicly made education one of her administration’s top priorities, including the county being the first in the nation to conduct public-private partnership (P3) projects to renovate and build several schools. She stood alongside state lawmakers Nov. 6 at Forest Heights Elementary to announce a $2.2 billion statewide public school construction plan. The lawmakers plan to present the legislation when the Maryland General Assembly convenes Jan. 8 in Annapolis.

House Committee Holds Hearing on Reparations

For the first time in about a decade, federal lawmakers held a hearing on June 19 to establish a 13-member commission to study the consequences and impacts of slavery and reparations to African Americans. The House Judiciary subcommittee discussed House Resolution 40, sponsored by Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Texas), would compile a report and submit it to Congress. The late Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) unsuccessfully introduced legislation on reparations for decades. Those who testified at the hearing included author Ta-Nehisi Coates, actor Danny Glover and former NFL player Burgess Owens. Some 2020 Democratic presidential candidates spoke about reparations this summer. Rep. Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced legislation called the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. Booker advocated for baby bonds for all newborns at $1,000 and up to $2,000 annually for children in low-income households until they’re 18. Reparations legislation did pass Nov. 25 in Evanston, Illinois, where the city council approved a resolution to tax cannabis and use a portion of revenues for a $10 million reparations fund. According to the resolution, a subcommittee continues to work on how the money would be distributed in the future.

JULY

D.C. Council Promises Greater Transparency

D.C. Council members responded to a new report released in July from the Office of the D.C. Auditor, which raises concerns about the integrity of the competitive application process for the city’s Housing Production Trust Fund.

The report found that the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development often deviated from its own scoring system to select lower-ranked projects for the fund, which provides critical gap financing to developers of affordable housing.

“Transparency around how we spend taxpayer dollars — especially dollars dedicated to increasing our affordable housing stock — is essential,” said Councilwoman Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large). “How is it a competitive process if you ignore the scoring when awarding dollars?”

Mayor Muriel Bowser and Ward 7 Councilman Vincent Gray both welcomed success on the East End of the city with the topping out celebration of Skyland Town Center, a promising mixed-use development that will deliver a full-service grocery store, housing and retail in Gray’s ward.

Bowser and Gray attended a celebration on Thursday, July 18, along Alabama Avenue in Southeast, where it was announced that Lidl Grocery will help anchor the development, a major coup for an area that has essentially been a food desert.

A New Age Mod Squad

After the House of Representatives voted largely along party lines to condemn President Donald Trump’s racist tweets directed at Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), many others followed that lead in railing against the president for his comments.

Danyelle Solomon, vice president of Race and Ethnicity Policy at the Center for American Progress, said that she was pleased that House members stood by the four congresswomen who have become affectionately known as “The Squad.”

“No one should be shocked by President Trump’s recent actions,” Solomon said. “He has a long, well-documented history of invoking directly and indirectly racist and offensive tropes about immigrants and people of color.”

AUGUST

Black Preachers, Politicians Take Aim at Trump

In the wake of President Trump’s relentless attacks against Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), a previously planned bipartisan meeting of faith leaders that involved Rev. Al Sharpton and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele became national news.

“Mr. President, come on down to the streets we are ready for you,” said Steele, Maryland’s former lieutenant governor of Maryland and the first Black to chair the RNC. “Put down your tweet and come to Baltimore.”

Steele joined more than 100 pastors for the meeting in West Baltimore planned by Republican operatives that included officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Jimmy Kemp, son of former Congressman and HUD Secretary Jack Kemp.

Steele, Sharpton, Republican strategist Elroy P. Sailor and officials from the NAACP and Rainbow Coalition were all part of the meeting that drew dozens of media organizations.

Grassroots’ Initiatives Confront Surging Gun Violence in D.C.

The nation’s attention turned to the cities of El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, where families, friends and local officials struggled to make sense of two mass shootings in one weekend that left 31 dead and dozens injured.

But closer to home, community activists such as D.C.’s Roach Brown, known for his zeal and commitment on behalf of returning citizens, has taken on another mission: finding solutions to the District’s rising gun violence.

On Aug. 6 during Brown’s monthly “Crossroads Radio Show” (WPFW, 89.3 FM), which airs live every first Tuesday from Ben’s Chili Bowl in Northwest, he facilitated two panel discussions in a room filled with interested local residents for a lively two-hour conversation about the impact that escalating shootings have had throughout the District.

But his most ardent concern, he says, remains the rise of injuries and deaths among children.

“We have reached a point where our children are being shot and killed in our streets before our very eyes,” he said. “We can no longer sit by idly as the death toll rises. If you can ignore what’s happening in the Black community to our babies, then there’s something terribly wrong with you. We can stop this — we must stop this.”

Jamestown: 400 Years of Black History

The stories about the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade have always been too painful for descendants of enslaved Africans to bear, but for the hundreds of African Americans that traveled to Ft. Monroe in Hampton, Va., the stories instilled strength, pride, faith, hope and perseverance.

The 1619-2019 Commemoration of the First African Landing signaled many additions and corrections to the history of the first Africans brought to America, marking the beginning of two centuries of slavery started in the British colony, in what later became Virginia.

It also established a commitment from researchers and politicians, alike, to ensure the inclusion of a more complete story of slavery and the efforts to abolish it in the American story.

“Slavery started here in Virginia,” Gov. Ralph Northam said to an audience of more than 200 gathered under a large tent on the grounds of Ft. Monroe.

The weekend observance commemorated the day on Aug. 25, 1619, when the first “20 or some odd some Negroes” from Angola, located on the west coast of Africa, were brought to America, to Fort Comfort, now Ft. Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, marking the beginning of slavery that lasted 246 years in the U.S., and where the vestiges of racism and inequality still impact Americans today.

SEPTEMBER

Dangers of Climate Change Lead to Local Protests

D.C. commuters faced even longer delays as an estimated 2,000 protesters blocked key intersections throughout the District to draw attention to the urgency for climate change, the immediate elimination of the use of environmentally-destructive fossil fuels and a swift transition to renewable energy.

The protests on Sept. 23, timed to coincide with the United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit in New York, came on the heels of a massive, youth-led school walkout that spanned six continents.

In the District, Metropolitan Police arrested more than 30 people while facing a throng of determined climate activists. Some protesters, seeking to confound law enforcement, chained themselves to street signs, an 80-foot-long oil pipeline, 30-foot ladders and parked vehicles — even to a bright yellow and pink yacht somehow hauled into the middle of a D.C. intersection.

Additional arrests included six people detained by U.S. Capitol Police at Washington and Independence Avenues in Southwest.

CBCF Makes Status of Black Men Priority #1

The challenges confronting and confounding Black men and boys took center stage Sept. 12 as participants packed Ballroom A in the Walter Washington Convention Center in northwest D.C. for the second of two town halls held during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 49th Annual Legislative Conference.

The session, “Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys,” hosted by Rep. Frederica S. Wilson — the lead sponsor of legislation aimed at leveling the playing field for Black males — featured a panel of Black men of national report whose years of successfully handling the minefields of white supremacy have provided them with unique perspectives and strategies.

OCTOBER

Mystics Win First Championship

The Washington Mystics brought their first WNBA championship east of the Anacostia River with their defeat of the Connecticut Sun in the newly opened Entertainment and Sports Arena, located on the St. Elizabeths East campus. That historic victory wrapped up what had been the Mystics’ most successful season in the franchise’s 22-year existence. After losing in their first WNBA Finals appearance last year, the team returned to the court and garnered a 26-8 record that earned them a top spot in this year’s playoffs. During their playoff run, they skipped two single-elimination rounds before going toe to toe with the Las Vegas Aces and later the Sun. For her significant contributions off the bench, Mystics center Emma Meesseman earned Finals MVP honors.

Informer Celebrates 55 Years

Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes brought in the 55th anniversary of the newspaper’s launch thinking about how to better serve the community’s appetite for online news. She has since announced the newspaper’s participation in a newspaper digital transformation initiative while continuing to tout WI Bridge, The Informer’s monthly millennial publication spearheaded by her son Lafayette Barnes IV. At a time when other local papers have fallen to the wayside, The Informer sets out to continue providing timely, impactful information for the D.C. community, and African Americans in particular. Such has been the case since the late Calvin Rolark, Denise’s father, founded the paper in 1964. Thirty years later, after his untimely death, Denise stepped up to the plate and the rest, as they say, would be history.

King Toffa IX of Benin Visits Macedonia Baptist Church

As part of an effort to address the wrongs his ancestors committed against Africans who endured the Middle Passage and chattel slavery, King Toffa IX of Porto Novo, Benin, embarked on a speaking tour in the United States. Macedonia Baptist Church, the last bastion of Black history along River Road in Bethesda, Maryland, was the first of five stops on King Toffa IX’s tour. He joined congregants in praise and worship, poured out his heart, and later joined community members in a walk to Moses African Cemetery. That burial site, estimated to have the remains of 500 African ancestors of River Road, is at the center of a battle between the River Road community and the Montgomery County government.

Nats Win Franchise’s First-Ever World Series

The Washington Nationals’ first World Series appearance and championship followed their entry into the playoffs via a wild card. From there, they eventually defeated the Houston Astros in the Fall Classic. That championship, along with those of the Mystics earlier in the month and the Capitals in 2018, further solidified the District’s position as a sports town and inspired reflection of steps former Mayors Anthony Williams and Adrian Fenty had taken to make that happen. Throughout the playoffs and well after the Nats’ championship win, “Natsmania” and “Nats Fever” took over, to the point that hardcore fans trolled former Nationals superstar Bryce Harper, who had signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies during the offseason.

NOVEMBER

Gray Announces Reelection Campaign

D.C. Councilman Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7) filed for reelection, officially entering a contest with three challengers — ANC commissioners Veda Rasheed and Anthony Lorenzo Brown, and military veteran Kelvin Brown. Since he started representing Ward 7 for the second time, Gray, also a former D.C. mayor, set his sights on developing what he described as an East End health care system. As chair of the D.C. Council’s health committee, he has guided discussions about a state-of-the-art hospital in Ward 8 and closing the healthcare cap east of the Anacostia River. If reelected, Gray said he’ll focus on bringing more full-service grocery stores to his ward. Despite his decades of service and name recognition, some critics, particularly those running against Gray, cite displacement and police-community relations as key issues.

Prince George’s Co. Honors Black Vets

In observance of Veterans Day, the American Legion Post 131 of Colmar Manor and Bladensburg Patriotic Committee honored women and men who served in the armed forces with a commemorative program near the Peace Cross, a World War I memorial at Annapolis Road and Alternate Route 1. This program, where representatives of the American Legion told stories about veterans, accompanied other festivities in Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, and Cottage City in appreciation of the more than 70,000 veterans estimated to live in Prince George’s County. Speakers included Maryland Rep. Anthony Brown.

Largo Teacher Charged with Assaulting Student

In a case that incited debate about student discipline and teacher conduct, Largo High School teacher Vivian Noirie was arrested and charged with physical child abuse and second-degree assault. According to Prince George’s County police, a female student, upset that Noirie called her family, bumped into the teacher with her shoulder and stomped on her foot before Noirie swung at the student. The confrontation was captured in a smartphone video that went viral, with opinions about who was wrong split along generational lines. Days after her arrest, Noirie was released from police custody and acquired legal representation for a trial scheduled to start in January. A crowdfunding campaign in support of her has been in circulation.

Byron Allen, Comcast Face Off in Supreme Court

The entertainment industry and political world’s attention pivoted to the Supreme Court as it started deliberations on a case involving media mogul Byron Allen and Comcast. The case, which stemmed from a 2015 suit Allen filed against Comcast and Charter, the nation’s largest cable operators, for their refusal to air his channels, would determine the strength of Section 1981, part of a 19th-century civil rights law protecting people against racial discrimination in business dealings. The Congressional Black Caucus and members of other civil rights organizations have since thrown their support behind Allen. In recent months, the Trump administration, in support of Comcast, has argued in favor of a narrowed definition of definition as outlined in Section 1981. The controversy even affected the opening weekend for a Harriet Tubman biopic, produced by a Comcast-owned company.

DECEMBER

D.C. Council Recommends Jack Evans’ Expulsion

D.C. Councilman Jack Evans had long avoided questions about his documented abuse of political power for financial gain, going as far as to decline appearing before the ad hoc committee determining his fate as an elected official. That committee, composed of Evans’ 12 council colleagues, recommended that he no longer serve the residents of Ward 2. Their decision followed the presentation of a report from two attorneys from O’Melveny & Myers that cited more than a dozen ethics violations committed by Evans within the past five years. Council members who spoke early on in the Dec. 3 hearing agreed that information collected, from the law firm and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), on which Evans served as a board member, would suffice. This process will culminate with two Committee of the Whole meetings in the new year, unless Evans first tenders his resignation.

Women of Color Sweep 2019 Beauty Pageants

Five women of color — Zozibini Tunzi, Toni-Ann Singh, Nia Franklin, Cheslie Kryst and Kaliegh Garris — respectively won the titles of Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA this year. The victories followed the crowning of two other Black women as Miss USA since 2016. Black women weren’t allowed to compete in the Miss America pageant until the 1940s. Even so, the first Black contestant wouldn’t take the stage until the 1970s. In the days after her victory, Franklin reflected its significance, telling reporters, “I think Black women need this. It’s a symbol, and it shows no matter where you’re from, what country you’re from, you can be successful.”

House Approves Trump Impeachment

The House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, making him the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. The issue is now set to move to the Senate for a trial once House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends along the articles, but she so far has refused to do so, citing doubt of whether the GOP-controlled Senate will conduct an impartial trial of the Republican president. Article I charges Trump with abuse of power by soliciting the interference of a foreign government in the political affairs of the United States. Article II charges that Trump obstructed Congress, one of three equal branches of government outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

Legendary Hockey Coach Inducted into Hall of Fame

Hockey coach and founder of the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club Neal Henderson entered the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and received a mayoral proclamation designating Dec. 10 as Coach Neal Henderson Day. The Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club counts among more than 30 U.S. and Canada-based affiliates of the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone program. The hockey club’s uniform pays homage to African-American soldiers who protected the southeastern corner of the U.S. Capitol during the Civil War. Since 1978, the hockey club has made waves competitively, placing first in the Purple Puck on numerous occasions. Along the way, Coach Henderson taught his youth about the sport’s origins as an activity for African Americans who escaped slavery and settled in Canada in the early 19th century.

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