Baby, It's cold outside.....
This is the time of year when most of us are making last minute preparations to gather with friends and family to fellowship, exchange gifts, laughter, love and cheer. So much of the time has been spent taking advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts to get the best deals on creature comforts that in most cases are not necessities, but indulgences.
December 21 was National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. In 2016, in Washington, D.C. alone, 46 persons, ranging in age from 32 to 71 years old died homeless, without dignity, in the long shadow of The United States Capitol and White House. As part of the remembrance, several advocacy groups organized events which included an overnight “Save a Life’ vigil at Freedom Plaza, outreach of clothing and food to those on the streets, and action at the Wilson Building urging Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council Members to pass legislation for more funds to assist citizens without permanent housing in The District. Homeless persons and their supporters, including the interfaith community, marched through downtown with a wooden casket and placards with the names of those who passed this year. There was a Memorial held at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church that included a solemn roll call of the deceased.
Please, as we feast, laugh and pray with our loved ones, let us take at least one moment to help someone that lives in our community without a permanent home and empty stomach.
I love shooting boxers and boxing. Recently I visited Tony’s Boxing Gym, located in the Trinidad section of Washington, D.C. On this particular evening, there were about 8 about athletes training, most of them preparing for a tournament on that upcoming Saturday in Waldorf, Maryland. I met Justin and Adam, ages 9 and 10 respectively, as well as newly-turned professional Marcus Bates, 22 years old and currently undefeated as a featherweight. I was most intrigued with the one young lady who was training. Her name is Taloni, a 17 year old high school senior. She told me that she had always wanted to box but her mother was understandably afraid for her daughter’s safety. After much persistence, her mother relented approximately one year ago. The loudest punch I heard that night was a powerful body blow that Taloni delivered to her male teenage sparring partner. The impact was so strong that timeout was called as it took the young man several moments to recover and regain his composure.
The atmosphere at Tony’s is energetic, fast-paced and serious. There is constant movement and loud chatter as the seasoned old-school coaches shout out instructions on proper technique, footwork, breathing and exhorting them to be decisive and precise when releasing punches. In the background, there is the din of other athletes on the speed and heavy bags, jumping rope, shadow boxing and getting individual attention from other trainers.
I first began covering then Senator and Presidential hopeful Barack Obama back in 2007. Of all the hundreds of photos that I have taken of him over the years, across two campaigns and two terms in office, this photo is by far my favorite. While I have featured this shot on my website for years, it has actually been printed and displayed in a public setting only twice before.
As this historic Presidency is coming to a close, I have been scouring the archives, reflecting on almost a decade's worth of imagery of Mr. Obama. This is the one I photo I have decided to make available, for sale, in print to the general public for the very first time.
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The Florida Avenue Grill in Washington, D.C. held it's annual free community breakfast for local residents, community leaders and locally elected officials. In partnership with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and Howard University's WHUR Radio Network, The Grill also provided bags of groceries and fresh turkeys on a first-come, first-serve basis. This event began a few years by Imar Hutchins, current owner of The Grill, which has the distinction of being the longest continuously operating Soul food restaurant in the country, having been founded in 1944 as a small family business.
This week I was assigned by a local newspaper to shoot for an upcoming article on housing, development, gentrification, homelessness and poverty in the Nation’s Capital
There was particular focus on four residential buildings around the Congress Heights Metro Station along Alabama Avenue in Southeast Washington, D.C. that have been neglected by landlords for years -including no heat or hot water and no treatment for rodent infestation. In too many instances, it takes several phone calls to get even the most routine maintenance requests addressed. Residents have had to replace burnt-out hallway light bulbs on their own instead of waiting weeks for their landlords to do it. Security is also an issue as many of the empty apartments have been broken into and become havens for gang activity, including the use and sale of illegal drugs.
These mostly working-class, elderly and poor residents feel the neglect is intentional as part of a calculated plan to push them out in order to make way for new development.
#housingisahumanright #gentrification #development #congressheights #poverty #neglect #justicefirst #washingtondc
Focus Attitude and Commitment to Excellence (FACE), a group of Street Sense artists and vendors joined the People for Fairness Coalition for a town hall style event at The Church of The Epiphany in Washington, D.C. Deliberate Face to F.A.C.E.: Is Housing a Human right? wants to bring attention to the issue of housing affordability by engaging local and national elected officials using the District of Columbia as an example and ensure that #UniversalHousing is a part of every Presidential campaign's platform.
The Panelists included D.C. citizens who are homeless and formerly homeless, as well as experts and advocates from Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, People for Fairness Coalition, ONE DC, and Empower DC.
The audience of housed and un-housed community members posed questions to the panelists regarding a universal human right to housing.
Under Armour Store, Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
President Emeritus and Founder, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School
Street Sense -- The Food Issue