Fifty years ago, in the fall of 1969, Angela Davis spoke at Meridian Hill Park and called for it to be renamed to Malcolm X Park. This exhibition celebrates that history through the photography of Nancy Shia, local photographer and activist, during the Sunday drum circle.
On September 22, 2019, the truck parked on 15th St. to exhibit the history and everyday life moments Shia has captured 1974-2014. Photographs showcased subjects from the everyday drum circles of the 1970s, to protests, cultural festivals and performance art presentations. The park is known for its beauty, art, and recreation, but it also has an illustrious history as a space in the city for free speech, especially for local African-American communities.
As part of the truck’s “Mobilizing Memories” effort, fellows Sierra, Maren, and Dan conducted short, video interviews with community members who want to share their memories of the park and the District. This exhibition is part of a related National Park Service project to collect oral histories about Malcolm X/ Meridian Hill Park.
Narrators shared the symbolic and spiritual meanings of the park in their own lives and histories, with many noting the importance of protests in the park and the present-day weekly drum circle.