By the time the go-go museum opens, a year will have passed since the T-Mobile Corporation acquiesced to the demands of go-go artists, promoters, fans and elected officials who protested the silencing of Don Campbell’s MetroPCS franchise on the corner of 7th Street and Florida Avenue in Northwest.
For more than two decades, jumbo speakers outside of Campbell’s store played go-go tunes, much to the delight of passersby and neighbors grooving to the sounds of Junkyard Band, Backyard Band, Rare Essence, and numerous other acts.
However, once tenants of a nearby condo complained about the volume, the T-Mobile Corporation ordered Campbell to turn off the music. Subsequent on-the-ground efforts to revive the sounds of 7th and Florida, and confront negative attitudes about go-go music, coalesced into the Don’t Mute DC Movement.
The Don’t Mute DC Movement has been credited with reviving a locally revered genre whose future had been in question amid the youth’s waning interest and venue owners’ marginalization of go-go bands. Since April, when T-Mobile reneged on its directives to Campbell, members of the go-go community have hosted outdoor go-gos, community meetings, and conferences in support of various causes of significance to District residents.
After having weighed in on youth violence, funding for United Medical Center, and the splitting of immigrant families, activists and artists’ attention pivoted to the long-lasting effects of a movement that garnered the attention of residents and elected officials alike. In October, several members of the go-go community, including Hopkinson and Big G of Backyard Band, spoke before the D.C. Council in support of the bill making go-go the District’s official musical genre.
That council hearing preceded one in which the council’s Committee on Business Economic Development discussed legislation introduced by D.C. Council member Robert White (D-At large) that would grant Check-It Enterprises and other businesses on the 1900 block of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue $2 million to purchase the buildings in which they operate.
“In an area with 102 Black-owned businesses, only three or four of them own property. This would be giving Black businesses a chance to stay,” Moten, business partner of Check It Enterprises and a founder of the Don’t Mute DC movement, told The Informer.