Click here to view more photos from the evening. Photo Credit: O. Michael Leslie
Community residents from Anacostia and across the District gathered last Friday, February 24th for an evening of music, arts, food, and programming to celebrate the launch of the ONE DC Black Workers Center (BWC), housed at the United Black Fund at 2500 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE. The BWC is a worker-led space that builds racial and economic justice through popular education, direct action and worker-owned alternatives.
The program included a musical performance by members of the Black Workers Center Chorus, an interactive reading by storyteller, oral historian, and author Candace Wolf, and spoken word by Joseph Green of Split this Rock. Visual art was created and donated for the evening by Chris Bantum and Jeremy Darby. Rakhel's Live Cuisine provided gourmet vegan food and fresh juice.
The Black Workers Center has been in development since 2014, with regular monthly community meetings held at the United Black Fund building for the past two years. The idea for the project emerged out of community listening sessions following the Washington Marriott Marquis Hotel Jobs Training Program. Troubled by the continued failure of DC's workforce development system to address unemployment, DC workers and residents began to envision an alternative space to address the intersections of race and work in DC. In 2015, emerging Black Workers Center members traveled on a series of Coop Learning Journeys to Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia to learn about incubating worker-owned cooperatives as an alternative to low-wage work. Along with ONE DC’s Cooperation DC project, the Black Workers Center will serve as both a political education and incubation space for worker cooperatives. The space will also serve as a creative hub, where BWC members can time bank volunteer hours in exchange for use of equipment and materials. BWC members are also developing an apprenticeship coding program.
Click here to sign up with the Black Workers Center
The Black Workers Center Chorus that performed at the launch practices every Tuesday evening at the BWC. To join the chorus and for more info, contact Luci Murphy at 202-234-8840.