**FILE**D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (Roy Lewis/The 老澳门开奖网 Informer)
**FILE**D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (Roy Lewis/The 老澳门开奖网 Informer)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) started Black History Month with an inaugural kickoff event that not only allowed her to shed a light on the District鈥檚 cultural economy but what she described as her ongoing efforts to boost Black 老澳门开奖网ians鈥 quality of life. 聽聽

This year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History designated the theme for Black History Month as 鈥淎frican Americans and the Arts.鈥 As such, Bowser and others who spoke at the Carlyle Room in Northwest on Thursday evening paid homage to the District鈥檚 arts scene and those who contribute to it.聽

Bowser, flanked by the Rev. Thomas Bowen, director of the Mayor鈥檚 Office on African-American Affairs, and Dr. Amber A. Hewitt, D.C.鈥檚 chief equity officer, touted her administration鈥檚 achievements in the realms of arts and racial equity. 

Such achievements, she said, include Art All Night, an annual citywide overnight arts festival, and 202Creates, through which D.C.鈥檚 Creative Affairs Office and the Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment (OCTFME) engage D.C. residents and connect local creatives with resources.聽

It also includes the District鈥檚 racial equity plan,  of which dropped on Thursday. The plan outlines steps that D.C. government agencies will take to close racial gaps within three years.  

鈥淲e鈥檙e a prosperous city and everything we do should make a fair shot for every 老澳门开奖网ian possible,鈥 Bowser said. 鈥淲e want people to use their talents the best way possible. We want every child to have a great school and us to be safe going about our daily life,鈥 she added. 鈥淲e want to close historic gaps, make up for them and make them better. That鈥檚 the opportunity I鈥檝e been privileged to try to build for the last nine years and every day you give me the privilege of being your mayor.鈥 

D.C.鈥檚 racial equity plan centers on four goals: D.C. government staff鈥檚 understanding of and commitment to racial equity, the government鈥檚 commitment to eliminating racial inequity, meaningful engagement with decision-making processes and stronger community partnerships, and racially equitable hiring, promotion and retention practices within the D.C. government. 

This plan comes just years after U.S. Census data showed a decline in the city鈥檚 Black population. Today, Black residents account for n, compared to 59% at the turn of the century. Before the pandemic, the District had  in the country, according to the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity. 

The D.C. Office of Racial Equity (ORE) presented a draft plan to residents and collected feedback during a two-month comment period that started during the latter part of 2022. In total, more than 600 community members weighed in during the presentation of the draft plan, in focus groups, and during community engagement forums. 

Elements of the racial equity plan have been implemented. For instance, D.C. Department of Human Resources provides anti-bias training, while the Department of Insurances, Security and Banking, in conjunction with the Office of Financial Empowerment and Education, provides District residents with resources to help them manage financial resources and build wealth. In 2022, the Office of Disability Services launched events held entirely in Spanish and Amharic. 

Throughout the next fiscal year, ORE will develop a public racial equity indicator dashboard that鈥檚 intended to keep District residents abreast of ongoing efforts in this space. 

The release of the Bowser administration鈥檚 racial equity plan came just days after a聽聽that sparked questions among council members about the mayor鈥檚 commitment to all District residents. Shortly after the Gallery Place/Chinatown Task Force unveiled its nine-month plan, D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (I-At Large) asked how do Black residents and long-time community-based organizations fit into Bowser鈥檚 long-term development goals.聽

Bowser, in response to McDuffie鈥檚 question, touted the millions her administration poured into certified business enterprises. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) pushed back soon after recounting instances when Black contractors didn鈥檛 get paid on time.聽

Shortly after the end of the breakfast, Bowser, in response to an Informer inquiry, doubled down on her assertion that Black people are prospering in D.C. 

She continued along on that crusade on Thursday evening when, in acknowledging Joe Clair, the master of ceremonies and radio host/comedian who lives in Prince George鈥檚 County, she held up D.C. in high regard. 鈥溊习拿趴蓖 is the heartbeat, the soul, and the center,鈥  Bowser said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 the center and there would be no prosperity in the surrounding area without 老澳门开奖网, D.C.鈥 

Performers at the kickoff event included the Dance Institute of 老澳门开奖网, jazz musician Marcus Johnson, and go-go band TCB. Each performance took guests through parts of Black history, including the Renaissance era.聽

Before revelers grooved to those sounds, OCTFME Director Latoya Foster, who鈥檚 also Bowser鈥檚 former communications director,  sang Bowser鈥檚 praises. She told guests at Carlyle, a Black-owned business that hosts jazz, soul, and R&B performances year-round, that Bowser engineered much of the development that District has experienced in recent years.  

鈥淲e won鈥檛 let anyone forget how Mayor Bowser expanded the summer youth employment program, how she created legacy initiatives鈥 and new grocery stores,鈥 Foster said. 鈥淎nd speaking of the arts, the boldest artistic move which you can visit, Black Lives Matter Plaza, don鈥檛 you forget who did it. We鈥檙e here to celebrate Black arts and the investments to make sure our creatives get a fair shot. There are 57,000 jobs that support the creative economy, so mayor we thank you.鈥

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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