A Student's Reflection on a ONE DC Walking Tour

Posted in Student Leaders Worker Justice DC

This month, the Kalmanovitz Initiative’s Worker Justice DC (new window) alternative spring break trip participated in a walking tour of the Shaw neighborhood with our friends at ONE DC (new window). Barbara Anne Kozee, a sophomore in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service majoring in International Political Economy, reflected on her experience.

walking tour

As we neared the end of our walking tour with Claire and stood on the corner of 7th and P St NW, I had a shocking realization: I go by the exact area that we had just been talking about for the past hour twice a week on my way to my job as a preschool tutor. I couldn’t believe that all the observations that Claire had made about the very visual impacts of gentrification had never crossed my mind once as the G2 made its way toward my destination on Florida Ave.

I had never once thought about the contrast between the high-rise, luxury apartments that lined one side of the street while the other side consisted of run-down buildings with paint peeling off the sides. I’d never noticed the giant, empty lot of grass sitting right in the midst of these fancy apartments that the local DC government had repeatedly promised to turn into public housing and repeatedly failed to follow through with. Our tour with Claire opened my eyes to the very real impact that gentrification has had in our DC community.

The pictures she showed us of what the neighborhood looked like only a few years before new housing and businesses moved in—a majority African American population and much more open space—provided evidence for a disturbing truth: the demographic that once lived in the neighborhood that we walked around is being increasingly displaced by people of higher socioeconomic status, mainly white.

Our walking tour with Claire taught me to pay more attention to my surroundings and to question. What has made this neighborhood this way? Is this just? And what can I do about it? Being a part of the DC community necessitates being aware of these pressing issues and actively doing our part to affect change.

Picture 2 - Neighborhood Tour

ONE DC invites you to engage with them in a conversation and community learning process about displacement and resistance in DC, and the potential for more equitable development. Their next social justice walking tour (new window) is on Saturday, April 4, 2015.