Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and wife, Princess. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

“I couldn’t have done [it] without Princess’s support”

Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 Councilmember and candidate for Attorney General.

In summer 1995, Kenyan and Princess McDuffie first met at backyard barbeque in the home where they raise their family today.

The couple remembers the moment each other caught their eye.

“I saw him, and he had on, or halfway had on his mail carrier uniform, and he walked up the steps. I was like, ‘Who’s that guy?’ I kind of looked at him walking up the steps, and I guess it started from there,” says Princess.

Kenyan came home after work to a typical summer barbeque hosted in his parents’ backyard. Kenyan’s sister invited Princess, her classmate from Benjamin Banneker high school, to join.

Kenyan’s friend recorded the family and friends get-together with an old-school handheld camcorder.

“[My friend] had the camera on, and I looked in the camera. Then Princess came from behind me and walked past me outside. And I looked into the camera and said, ‘I’m going to get her before the night is over,’” says Kenyan.

Before the night filled with go-go music and soul food ended, Kenyan did just that.

The next year, Kenyan courted Princess to senior prom. The couple dated long distance while Princess attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Kenyan attended University of Maryland School of Law.

There were moments when Princess knew Kenyan was an important part of her life.

In 2001, one of the planes that was hijacked during the 9/11 attack crashed in a nearby city in Pennsylvania, which was intended to target Washington, D.C.. 

“I was in grad school. The second plane that hit, [crashed] not too far from my school. … The only thing I could think of besides my family was getting back to Kenyan. … Taking that drive [and] just knowing that when I got there, he was my safety net,” says Princess.

Princess says another reason that she fell in love with Kenyan was that he’s dedicated, caring, kind, cares about the community, and shared a similar childhood and upbringing as a native Washingtonian.

Kenyan says Princess was the one because she’s smart, driven, focused and forward thinking about her future.

In 2005, the two married.

Now, the couple raises their two daughters, ages 12 and 15, in that same Northeast home where they met, which the McDuffie family has passed down to three generations since 1952.

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie with daughters and wife, Princess. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

Kenyan, along with being a father and husband, is currently Ward 5 Coucilmember and candidate for D.C. Attorney General

In 2010, McDuffie first campaigned to become Councilmember. McDuffie lost the 2010 general election to Harry Thomas Jr. But two years later, Thomas plead guilty to two federal crimes – theft and filing false tax returns. In 2012, McDuffie won 45 percent of votes in the special election for the Ward 5 seat against 10 other candidates.

“I couldn’t have done that without Princess’s support,” he says.

“His first run in 2010, we had a three-year-old and a three-month-old, so you can just imagine,” says Princess. “And let’s not forget, he also worked for the federal government, so he had to resign from his position. So [we were a] young, new family, and we were all in,” says Princess.

At the time, the couple managed to get by with one income. Princess has worked with domestic violence perpetrators throughout most of her career.

Born and raised in Ward 8’s Congress Heights, Princess says she witnessed that trauma firsthand.

“In my community, people didn’t talk to one another respectfully. A lot of trauma was heard in the apartment hallways and outside. … For me it was really about just healing the community, making sure that people have the tools that they need to have healthy relationships,” she says. “[We] have to talk to abusers, it’s not enough to pour into just survivors.”

The McDuffie’s say that the foundation of their relationship is healthy communication.

“It’s a conversation about why? Where does this stem from? Is it something we can do to address it?” says Kenyan.

Princess says they instill the same values in their children.

“Part of it is learning healthy behavior – how to be respectful, how to be responsible, negotiating, like what we do with our children … to let the kids have a little more say [than we did growing up],” she says.

Besides passing down the home to a fourth generation of McDuffie’s the couple wants to “impart some of those lessons about life, love, marriage, partnership, sacrifice, the importance of family, and the strength of the bond,” says Kenyan.

While he says, “profession is extraordinarily important,” he adds “I work really hard at it, but at the end of the day I can’t be a good Councilmember or candidate for Attorney General, if things aren’t right at home with my family, and so it’s always gonna be first,” says Kenyan.

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