It’s interesting enough being a Black woman in city “formerly know as” Chocolate City. If you live here you know it’s being rapidly gentrified. No surprise there. However, there is one place in the city that has never been fully “chocolatized”. That is the National Mall. You can thank the tourists for that. It’s funny, I’ve talked to African Americans who were born here who have never ventured down except for school trips back in the day.
Unless Barack Obama is being elected, there is a Civil Rights march reenactment, or so other event that is highly attractive to black folk, the Mall is very vanilla. Don’t get me wrong…I love white folks too. I’m happy about the visitors to the Mall from out of town spend here in the District and what not…blah blah. I just find it funny that when I go to the Smithsonian museums, stroll the mall, or visit the monuments…I see a handful of black people (many of them working security in the buildings). However I can walk 10 min in any direction (except the direction of Georgetown and George Washington U) and the city is Chocolate and balanced again. It’s like going to Virginia. lol
Anyway, I had a “Black moment” at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday. I walked there from Union Station…don’t ask me why, just wanted to walk. I saw about 6 other black people during my walk (no lie). There were hundreds of people out there, mind you (I saw like 6 softball games, lots of people exercising, and tons of tourist groups). I get to the top of the stairs at Lincoln Memorial and watch for 10 min to see how many people notice the “I HAVE A DREAM” engraving noting Martin Luther King’s name and the date of the march. It notes the place on the stairs where he gave his historic speech. Guess how many people noticed it. 2 children.
Now, to their credit it’s not as pronounced as it should be, in my opinion. Hey, I think Obama should do something about that.
I remember when I first visited the Memorial that spot on the steps was something I looked for. The image of King standing on those steps looking out at thousands gathered in the name of civil rights is burned into my psyche as an African American. I wasn’t looking for that engraving, didn’t even know it was there. I just wanted to stand in the place and look out over the reflecting pool and think about that day. Why? Cause I’m black, and moments like that mean a lot to me.
Maybe that’s why not many people noticed the black history upon which they stood yesterday. Maybe I shouldn’t expect them to care, but I do. I find that I’m having more and more of these moments in this so-called “post-racial” America.