Flag of the District of Columbia
Flag of the District of Columbia (Courtesy of dpw.dc.gov)

In a surprisingly “adult-like” conversation with sixth-graders at a school on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast, Democracy Prep, several children voiced their concerns while speaking to our editor, saying that while some parts of the District continue to welcome new businesses, greater job training programs and opportunities and a boom in home construction which upon completion often provides all kinds of amenities located nearby, the neighborhoods in which they live seem to have been forgotten — even abandoned.

Based on the analyses offered by these young, Black boys and girls, they were describing, whether they knew it or not, circumstances similar to what Charles Dickens writes in the opening of his masterful novel, “A Tale of Two Cities.” Set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution, Dickens begins: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …”

Even former two-term, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams (1999-2007), in a recent interview with The Washington Post, credited with jump-starting the new array of forces that would eventually yield a new and improved District, admits that while he celebrates seeing his vision appear to have become reality, that he too, worries about the future of D.C.

Specifically, he wonders about the future of the poor, the most vulnerable, and whether more and more are finding themselves being forced to leave in search of affordable homes and communities. Williams added that if people really cared about the poor, why has nothing been done to help them in the wake of fast-moving gentrification within the city that’s been going on for years?

Good question. We agree 100 percent with the issues of concern he’s raised but it’s been easier for him to see the forest for the trees, given the front-row seat he’s possessed far longer than the average citizen.

More amazing is that even children from communities routinely and often unfairly considered among the “worst” in the District have been able to connect the dots, push their ways through man-made smokescreens and learn that zip codes, education and race can and do often lead the way in the creation of two dissimilar paths.

And for some, like the young scholars who shared their innermost fears with our editor, it feels like “the worst of times.”

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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