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The Anacostia Community Museum’s indoor gallery will be closed Sept. 18 through Oct. 31 as we bring our next exhibition to life. Even though our gallery is closed, join us at any of the dynamic upcoming events planned over the next 6 weeks. More information about our events is available at: anacostia.si.edu/events. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Virtual

Missed an event? Want to explore more? Check out one of our featured virtual programs below or visit our YouTube.com channel.

Virtual Programming

Hear the unsung stories of people who are emboldened to catalyze change in their neighborhoods and communities.

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[Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum presents Food for the People. Eating & Activism in Greater Washington.]

[A closeup of the Food for the People banner.]

[Drums] 

Christylez Bacon: 

All right here we go. All right a little pocket so let me try to repeat after me you know I’m saying all the DC vibes 

 right here mixing a little bit of djembe to create this Go-Go pocket and to do a little song about the famous and infamous condiment from out of DC called Mambo sauce. Here we go.  

[Drums] 

Say hey Mambo Sauce.  

Audience: 

Mambo Sauce 

 Chris: 

I say uh ah uh uh ah ah 
 

Audience: 

uh ah uh uh ah ah 

Chris: 

I went away from DC to a Chinese spot to get a three-piece wing with fries in the rice box. Post against the wall while I’m waiting for my number, to call they like sit and make yourself at home. I’m like wait a minute yo y'all got carpet on the floor. I’m from the South side. Our carry-outs don't have tables and chairs in it. They got bathrooms with the wicked painted pictures and our carry-outs ain't even got air conditioners. My order came up. I told them, put it in the bag. Then I realized I wasn't talking through the plexiglass. So I dapped up the boss, the head woman in charge and they asked her, where is the Mambo sauce? She looked at me odd as if I just threw her off. What in the world is that? I said yo know the red sauce.  Now I’m a DC representa. And we known for that swing, but I didn't know the sauce was just a DC thing. We ordered chicken with the Mambo sauce. Fries with the Mambo sauce. They never use enough. I got a side of it. Now tourists come through the hood sometime when they get lost and keep on asking us, “What on earth is Mambo sauce. Say Mambo sauce.  

Audience:  

Mambo sauce 

Chris: 

Mambo sauce 

Audience:  

Mambo sauce 

Chris: 

I say uh ah uh ah ah 

Audience: 

uh ah uh ah ah  

Chris: 

A lot of carry-outs in DC got the same old names but if you taste the mambo sauce, it's never tasting the same. It tastes better on the fries. From the flavor side, trust me you can find this at your nearest. Yum’s, George’s and Lucky's. I got caught on the back of the bus with the plate full and smelled a couple sauce off of swerving on the A2.  A brother got kicked off. The driver would fuss cause he could smell that mambo sauce to the front of the bus. But I got the answer before the cure of the cancer the way to make the sauce is sugar, water and ketchup with the hot sauce in it. Throw a fork in it and mix it up on the chicken till you like a jaw with it. On the DC scenery you'd be often seeing me. Posted it up in Yum’s with diabolical eatery. I got the sandwich sub. My man got the steak and cheese but the joint what the most food in the sauce is Johnny's. we ordered chicken with the Mambo sauce. Fries with the Mambo sauce. Never use enough. I got a side of it. Now tourists come through the hood sometime when they get lost and keep on asking us, “What on earth is Mambo sauce. Say Mambo sauce. 

Audience:  

Mambo sauce 

Chris: 

Mambo sauce 

Audience:  

Mambo sauce 

Chris: 

I say uh ah uh ah ah 

Audience: 

uh ah uh ah ah 

 Chris: 

Thank you my friends!  

[Drum roll ] [Beat boxing] 

  

[music] 

Samir: 

Greetings my name is Samir Meghelli. I’m the head curator here at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum We've been working on this exhibition, Food for the People: Eating and Activism in Greater Washington for the past two years. Interviewing more than a hundred local community members, organizers activists and advocates, farmers, farm workers, and all kinds of food workers, as well as government officials and many others who are working toward a more equitable and sustainable food system. We've also been researching the complex elements of our food system, how our health, our economy and our social fabric depend upon processes that are often invisible to us. And so we really wanted to render those processes visible because if you can't name and explain and understand those processes then we can't change them to make for a more equitable and just food system. 

 We were in the midst of developing this exhibition when the pandemic hit and we quickly adapted to figuring out how and if the exhibition might still be made available to the public. At the same time, the pandemic revealed the fragility of the global food system and our dependence upon for instance shipments from huge corporations across the world and at the same time the often invisible millions of essential food workers whose labor makes our food possible. In fact, we've created for this exhibition a sculpture that honors the often invisible labor of our food workers, the millions of essential food workers. And so we invite our visitors to come and leave a note of gratitude or even to share, you know, your story about your experience, being a food worker. We're now joined by curatorial researcher Dominique Hazzard who will take you a bit more in depth into one of our food justice installations. 

Dominque Hazzard: 

 With this set of larger-than-life installations we want to raise awareness of some major issues in our food system. This one, for example, highlights how the United States currently farms 40 million more acres of crop and pastureland than is needed to feed every American. So why are so many people experiencing food insecurity? It's a question that this exhibit asks visitors to really sit with. 

Samir: 

We're really excited to be joined today by three change makers who are featured in this exhibition who'll be sharing a bit about their stories.  

Dominque:  

Our first guest is Xavier brown he's an urban grower, co-founder of the youth organization Soilful City, and a local leader in collective agriculture and cooperatively run food businesses. Xavier, we loved your story and the story of Pippin Hot Sauce because it really shows what happens when individual people come together and create something big. Can you tell us more about the work you do? 

Xavier Brown: 

All right my name is Xavier Brown. I wear multiple hats. I have a hot sauce company that's collectively kind of grown with a lot of black growers in the area. I’m co-founder of a workaround food co-op called SouthEats that's about to launch in May and I’m founder of Soilful City. We do urban ag and try to bridge the rural urban gap via Afro ecology. And I’m also a member of the Black Dirt Farm Collective.  

Dominque: 

The pepper itself has an interesting story. Tell us more. What makes this pepper so special? 

Xavier: 

 It's heirloom chili pepper. It's named after African American painter named Horace Pippin that's from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It's from that region. He fought in World War One. He got shot in his arm, taught himself to paint. He was part of the Harlem Hellfighters right. They fought in France for the- in the trenches for the longest amount of time. Taught himself how to paint once he got back to Philadelphia and he was one of the world's most world-renowned painters kind of during that time period. He ended up trading that pepper to a guy named William or Will- this guy named the guy who has the peppers now is William Woods Weaver but he traded it to William Woods Weaver’s grandfather. And they were contemporaries at that time period. Since Pippen was shot in his arm, he traded the peppers or the seeds of the peppers for some bee stings. And there was a remedy that bee stings would bring back the feeling of numbness or the pain that he was having at that point in time period. So for us, it's important that all the peppers or at least the overwhelming like 99.9% OF the peppers are grown by black growers. And we try to focus on black growers in the DMV region. That's like we include Baltimore in the DMV region as well. And we try to tell the stories of the growers, so we want to make sure that there's a personal connection to the hot sauce. and we wanted to kind of uplift the story of the growers. Also, we hire, you know, kids just from my neighborhood where I live to help make this sauce. So every piece of the like the entire process outside the amazing story about Horace Pippin we keep it collective and we keep it kind of- it's important to have it like black owned and kind of like a local kind of vertically integrated as much as possible supply chain. 

 Chris:  

I usually- I don't bring silverware outside of the kitchen, but you know for Food for the People we're gonna have to do make a little exception and play spoons next to a fork. Aight here we go. 

[spoons hitting one another] 

[playing spoons]  

  

Samir:  

Next up we have Dr. Beverly Wheeler, director of DC Hunger Solutions. When we were putting together this exhibition we really wanted to highlight the issues of hunger and food insecurity in the Washington, DC area. Beverly can you tell us what is one of the key issues that that you and these younger solutions is trying to solve with your work? 

Beverly Wheeler: 

 So I am so glad you asked me that question because we know hunger is a solvable issue. Access to healthy, affordable food is a basic human right and no one in Washington, DC, the most wealthy country in the known universe should suffer from food insecurity.  

Samir: 

Beverly, can you tell us a little bit about what we're seeing in this photograph of you? 

  

Beverly: 

So, I love this photo. So two years ago, the community got together, and we were going to do a physical representation of what it's like to have one grocery store in your neighborhood. One grocery store for everyone to get their food. So, we march from that one grocery store down to the center of Anacostia. It's about a two-mile march. We were, some of us were chanting. I was chanting ‘food for the people’ but we really want people to understand that for 85,000 residents in Ward 8 there is one grocery store. There are wards in the District of Columbia that have between 12 and 16 grocery stores. This isn't right. It is not just. It is a health issue. It is a racial justice issue, and we need to deal with it immediately. 

 Chris: 

Now we're going to take it up a notch just a little bit. Okay? let's add a little bit of beatboxing my first instrument, with this instrument right there.  

  

[beatboxing] [spoons hitting each other] 

 [crowed cheering]  

Spoons. There you go right there 

  

[Applause] 

 Samir: 

Our last featured changemaker is Rebecca Lemos-Otero who is the co-founder of an organization called City Blossoms. And when we were developing the exhibition, we really were inspired by the work that they've done to reclaim green spaces in a gentrifying city and make those spaces and the possibilities of gardening available to young people. So, Rebecca, can you tell us a bit about the work that you all have done with City Blossoms in the city? 
 

 Rebecca Lemos-Otero: 

I co-founded City Blossoms because the challenge we were trying to solve was really having access to outdoor space that kids and young people could shape themselves and become the stewards of. We wanted a place where they could play with the dirt and they could grow flowers and grow food and then be able to share it not just with each other, but with all their community members. 

Samir:  

So, what was the context in which you co-founded City Blossoms and what was the process actually like of building the organization? 
 

Rebecca, 

We started City Blossoms not by name but by garden in 1997 in Columbia Heights. And that's when there wasn't really much going on with the, at least for us, around urban ag and urban farms there were community gardens but that's about it. So, for us, this was really kind of a shot in the dark and trying to figure out what it would look like to create a green space with kids. And so we did that because, again, we didn't have that many green spaces to go to that were within our walking distance. And so we wanted to change that and it was kind of by accident. Someone came and gave us a few plants and we got started and we just were really excited by how interested everyone was automatically. You know as soon as the first sunflower really started to like grow and reach over the fence we had neighbors asking us questions and giving us advice and sharing seeds. And so when we saw the power of that kind of happening we just knew we had a great idea in our hands and it just kept expanding from there. One of the reasons that City Blossoms flourished was because of all the partnerships that we were able to nourish and grow. A lot of it was with DC Public Schools with the US Botanic Garden, the Nature Conservancy but also our community members and really other organizations that are doing similar work. I think our best and strongest work came when we worked together. One of the programs that we created at City Blossoms was one designed to help young people not just be in the garden spaces and shape them but actually develop their leadership skills. And that was the YEC program our youth entrepreneurship co-op. Young people at Eastern High School and Cardoza and now a few other high schools within DC gather together and run their own business called Mighty Greens. And through that business they grow food and they sell it through CSAs through added value products and together they just they make decisions about how they want to grow their um their business and how they want to develop it. 

  

Chris:  

All right people, this right here is a special freestyle right here. So that means that everything is improvised. so I've been given words from good folks and staff here. That are connected to the things that you would catch in this exhibit. Okay. So look, I got 10 random words. I 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. I got 10 aight. It is verified. Here we go. I’m gonna say these words. Maybe they'll pop up on the screen maybe not. But maybe they just pop up in your mind when you hear them being utilized. The first word we have from the clipboard is grow.  

[drums] 

After grow, we have sovereignty. After that we have squash the system. We got whole phrases right there. All right after that we have racism after racism we got cultivate. After cultivate we got magnify. After magnify we gotta eat. After the eat we got groceries kind of rhymes. After that, we have hunger and visible. All right. Or should be visibility. All right. So look I’m gonna do all of these words make them round somehow, make it make sense at the same time while playing this. Yeah all these things at the same time. So my mind is gonna be torn. So look I’m gonna need your help at home and the people that are around right here keeping it safe outside. I’m going to need you to repeat after me, I’ma throw you in the water. Let's see if you can swim. Here we go. 

Hey hey i say freestyle, freestyle, freestyle, freestyle. I say freestyle, freestyle, freestyle  

Audience: 

Freestyle, freestyle, freestyle 

Chris: 

Hey the wind blows messed up the afro. We out here planting seeds hoping they will grow up in your mind. Best to believe over here with the food, trying to get food sovereignty. Hey! In case you missed them go to the mirror you'll see squash the system. Up in the back with the new technique when we speak and we gonna serve you like some beets. Do this right here. What has gotten in m ‘displacing food because of racism. We need this in our community right now. so we don't have to um travel a whole mile. To go to the grocery store cost too much. Metro won't open those doors no more. Early, never late. And after that, just like the fool got a cultivate. Freestyle, freestyle, freestyle. I say freestyle, freestyle, freestyle 

 Audience 

Freestyle, freestyle, freestyle 

Chris: 

come out here. Watch how this combine. Go to the line. See if you can magnify the words that you're hearing and seeing in the back. Imma flip it use it in the rap. Do it like this put it down like a tongue tap. When I’m on the beat get the food to eat. Do this right here, come out next week. See the whole experience. Make the drink complete. Hey and the place to be travel this learn how we do with the groceries. Hey this is how we do right now with the freestyle without further ado and we got the joint number blossoming it's springtime doing things to avoid the hunger. Hey Teaching you the principles we just trying to make what's unknown become visible. freestyle, freestyle, freestyle. I say freestyle, freestyle, freestyle 

 Audience 

Freestyle, freestyle, freestyle 

Chris: 

Hey right now you're rocking with Chris come on now. and see food justice. yo thank you guys so much y'all. Food for the People and this is a freestyle using all 10 of these words connected to the theme. Y'all thank y'all so much all right all right. 

[Drum] [clapping] 

[A closeup of the Food for the People banner.]

[The Food for the People banner that has a hand holding a carrot.]

Samir: 

We created this exhibition because we wanted to highlight food justice issues in the greater DC area and the people working to solve them. We hope it will inspire visitors to take action in their own communities. So we invite you to come to the museum, be safe enjoy the outdoors and explore the rest of this exhibition on your own. We're really excited and look forward to having the rest of the exhibition open on the indoors when we can reopen and thank you for joining us today. 

[An aerial view of the Food for the People exhibit outside the museum.]

[Music]  

[Sponsored by Events DC, with additional support from the Hillside Foundation - Allen and Shelly Holt. Additional Support from AARP DC. Food for the People exhibition received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.]

[The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum logo is shown.]

Voices / Interviews

Reflections on Twelve Years That Shaped Washington DC: 1963–1975
Andy Litsky discusses historic development of Southwest Washington, D.C., and current development issues.

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(Andy Litsky on screen) 

Andy Litsky: 

The waterfront has been a mainstay of Washington since Washington.   

It had it had been a wharf and a working waterfront from the very beginning of the establishment of the Federal City. The larger waterfront actually was Georgetown, but our waterfront was a working waterfront in southwest.  There were various redevelopments and of course in the 60s when, and the late 50s and the 60s when Southwest was by and large completely demolished, save for a handful of architectural gems that were incorporated into other dwellings. The waterfront too, was completely demolished, except for portions of where the current fish market exists. The fish market of course has been continuously-- it's the oldest continuously operated fish market in the country and it's been around for 200 years.  

Southwest in the 70s was very, very quiet, very apart as it is still from the rest of the city. Remember we are cut off geographically by the expressway and at the time there was no Metro, there were one or two bus lines that came down there, but basically when Southwest was built and after it was built and everybody moved there, the government kind of went, “You're on your own.” So, to a large extent I was very pleased to be there because we didn't have any of the hoopla that we had in other areas of the city.  

There was a move-- and it probably would have happened had it not been stopped by John Wilson who at the time was our council member--  to put the Reagan Building in all of its grandeur, the second largest government building in the Washington area, right in Southwest. They would have knocked down Jefferson Junior High and they would have sited it...  It would have taken up every available space, and the community rose up and said “No!”. That was really the first time that I became very active and we worked with John Wilson, and made sure that it never saw the light of day on the on the council. And so, it's now properly placed where it should be off Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street. To have that building in Southwest would have completely destroyed our community.  

I wanted to take a small bite of the apple and ensure that as our community developed it developed in a certain way and I wanted to maintain,  if you will, that the sanctity of Southwest, and that's what initially had attracted me. You can make a difference, we’re not paid, anybody thinks that ANC commissioners are paid; no, we put in a lot of volunteer time and a lot of volunteer effort … nighttime meetings. But we are the most direct a level of elected official that of any place in the city.  

Our ANC focuses on development issues, we have an enormous amount of development now that is occurring in Southwest as well as in Southeast, but the Southwest is really where the focus is now. We have of course the enormous development--  it's two billion dollars' worth of development over on the Southwest waterfront that's called “The Wharf”.  That will open, now we're speaking in 2015, it will open in just about two years, we will be cutting the cutting the ribbon because it will open in October of 2017. 

Online Educational Resources

Featured Virtual Events

The museum offers a variety of online events for audiences of all ages. All programs are free of charge and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

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