#dontmutedc Mumbo Vs. Gumbo Festival

Written by: Kayla Harley

Washington, DC 7/11/22

The brokenness of Gentrification will continue to prevail if our systems of Government fail. Fails, to see us, [Black People] acknowledge our efforts, sacrifices and the contributions made by our Ancestors to this country. That is why Architect, Sir David Adjaye (Architect who designed the Smithsonian African-American History and Culture Center on the National Mall) has teamed up with DC Government Officials to help provide promising opportunities of growth and expansion for Black Business in the Anacostia District, known as “The Great Ward 8” Washington DC. Monday July 11th at Noon, Ground was broken on behalf of a 3 Year Development Project known at Sycamore & Oak, a new community-led temporary development located on Parcel 15 in Congress Heights District Retail Village (IRV) that will incubate retail and food concepts that originated in the community and provide job opportunities to neighborhood residents. Longstanding small businesses and non-profit organizations who have tirelessly served the community for 10 + will finally be able to break through and take the lead in DC Mayor Muriel Bowsers vision emphasizing “equity, sustainability, and exceptional design.”

This is a massive leap for Washingtonians who are often left out of the picture when it comes to economic advancement - typically put on hold, #muted, or bought-out for their own properties. Today - after the official groundbreaking ceremony launched the project the neighborhood got to enjoy a Free Festival and Concert where DC and New Orleans cuisine and music went toe-to-toe in a cultural explosion known as “Mumbo vs. Gumbo”.

The best of DC’s favorites usually served at your nearest corner carryout - Chicken Wings with Mumbo Sauce, Vegan Steak and Cheese/Crab Stuffed Egg Rolls and a delicious Banana Pudding Cheesecake - with a side of Go-Go Iced-Tea was served while it’s competitors from NOLA featured their Hush Puppies, Seafood or Sausage Jambalaya - with a Lemonade and Sweet Iceys made to Perfection. All was FREE and All was Delicious.

This was a family affair where which kids could enjoy face painting, games and a carousel ride. Folks came from all parts of the city just to be on the Lawn, enjoying the concert that also featured the best of NOLA’s Mardi Gras band called The Big 6 - a vibe for sure. Needless to say however, they were no match for EU “Experience Unlimited” a beloved Go-Go band that continues the love and legacy of the GodFather of Go-Go Chuck Brown by “winding-the crowd up” as the sound of the Congos and melodious sound of the star band rang through the air - who have been winning over crowds over since the 1980’s.

What a time. The energy was amazing and the fact that this was a love offering from the Government - where everything came at absolutely no cost was a Blessing beyond measure. It’s safe to say that the weight of Gentrification was starting to hang heavy on DC’s residents and the uphill protest against developments that often rescript Black neighborhoods as them these quiet contemporary, new-age [White] coffee-shop and cafe scenes in lieu of the multi-cultural Diasporic Gem that it once was when people used to refer to DC as “Chocolate City”.

(Photographed with Keyonna Jones,

Congress Heights Arts and Cultural Center

Creative Director and Artist of the emblem and “Face” of the Mumbo vs. Gumbo Artwork featured at the Festival, Learn More: https://www.chacc.org/)

Photography of EU @SugarBearEU and The Big 6 Band @B igSixBrassBand by: Peter James Callahan of WeActRadio

But, not today Karen! DC comeback to us - Blacks and Brown Residents, Foreigners…anyone could be connected to their roots no matter where they are from. Congratulations to all of the Small - soon to be big Business Owners who have earned their retail spaces in this new development:

  • Black Bella

  • Congress Heights Arts and Cultural Center

  • Chris Pyrate & Friends

  • LoveMore Brand

  • Our Armoire

  • Paradyce Clothing Company, Inc.

  • Salon On The Ave.

  • The Museum

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