Members of D.C.’s Ivy City community on Monday are calling for the reopening of the historic Alexander Crummell School with an online rally at noon.
The rally also calls for Mayor Muriel Bowser to restore the long-abandoned local landmark for public use.
Monday also commemorates the school’s 109th anniversary, which was closed in 1977 after having served as a site for Department of Parks and Recreation programs and the hub for civic life in Ivy City.
“We have no safe places for kids to play,” said ANC 5D01 Commissioner Ryan Linehan. “My wife and I built a small basketball court in our driveway for the kids, but they deserve so much more.”
Sebrena Rhodes, who lives 50 feet from the site and provides leadership to the Friends of Crummell School, added, “Children playing in the street are dodging traffic. And the Crummell School is sitting there, with two acres of land, fenced off from our use. It’s an injustice. No other neighborhood would be treated like this.”
In November 2016, Bowser selected a development team after putting out a Request for Proposals for the site, according to the statement. Bowser planned to give the two-acre property to developers for free and promised they would renovate the school for public use in exchange. But four years later, the neighborhood is still waiting for public needs to be met, with no end in sight, the statement further states.
“Mayor Bowser is holding Ivy City hostage to a failed, unwanted development scheme,” said Parisa Norouzi, executive director of Empower DC, a community advocacy group that has long supported organizing in Ivy City. “We are asking her to make the community whole by funding the renovation of the school in her next city budget.”
Among those speaking at the rally are Ward 5 State Board of Education representative Zachary Parker, Dr. Greg Carr of Howard University’s African American Studies Department, and Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, rector of St Luke’s Episcopal Church.