This article is a part of our Black History Month series.
Our book club recently read and discussed “Chocolate City” by Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove. As an organization serving Washington, DC and its surrounding area, understanding the history- particularly the racial history- of the city is very important.
Some volunteers in the book club are long time DC residents, while others grew up elsewhere. One volunteer shared her memories of growing up in Anacostia and reflected on how the city has changed—some changes for the better, and some for the worse. Some book club members live in DC but didn’t know the implications of DC’s racial demographics and history. One volunteer wrote, “I know that reading this book has certainly educated and inspired me, as I have a much deeper understanding of the history of events and politics that have led us to where we are today.” Several volunteers pointed to a lack of commitment to democracy that seemed prevalent throughout DC’s history. A common sentiment was that, “It’s frustrating when democracy is not chosen just to make sure black people aren’t allowed to be in power.” While many Washingtonians refer to the term “Chocolate City” with a great source of pride, we must continue to bring attention to the issues that affect it. One urgent problem that all members agreed on is the rapidly increasing price of housing, to the point where people who work in DC can no longer afford to live here.