The Chocolate City Experience

In 2019, Dee Dwyer, Briana Monet, Keyonna Jones and a few of their friends noted how gentrification was slowly stripping the Southeast section of Washington, D. C. of its essence. The decision was made to hold an event, reclaiming their community values with fun-filled activities; connecting a loving sense of belonging with Black culture and neighboring businesses.

I felt it imperative to capture these resurrecting moments; I hopping on the Megabus in Manhattan (it’s such a pleasant ride) to Union Station in D. C. I came in a couple of days early so I could spend some quality time with my spiritual sister Ayo and her husband John. This also allowed me to check out the venue area around the Congress Heights Arts & Culture Center; so as to position myself for good photographs.

Now, all things will change once the area is filled in with people however pre-visualization gives the artist the advantage of knowing how the sun is moving (if it’s not an overcast day), high and low angles, where he/she can stash their camera gear and when you’re my age , where’s the bathroom?

A couple of nights before that momentous occasion, Dee gave a fiery photography exhibition entitled, “Last Bite of Chocolate City?”  This grand event packed the cultural center in a visual celebration of itself.  

The day of the event was a hot Sunday afternoon; the sun played hide and seek behind the clouds as if it was participating in the block party. The community came out in full blast. Hula hooping, face painting by Grace’s daughter, Trumanti and Double Dutch just for starters; haircuts for the boys, a mature hay eating horse for small children, chess instructions for becoming a better player and local vendors with food, hats, jewelry and more. There was a live band closing out the day keeping Briana, video camera in tow, shooting from place to place.

As the community bathed in neighborly love; family fun and laughter the South side lit up; was hot and on fire!  

Please visit Collector’s Gallery 1 & 2 on this website.

Blessings to everyone and STAY SAFE!