December 2023 Downtowner News

National Portrait Gallery Displays Portrait of Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter 

Following the death of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter November 19, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery has placed a portrait of her on display. It will remain there through January 3, 2024. The pastel drawing is by Robert Templeton and highlights Carter’s interests in mental health advocacy and the Carter Center, as well as building homes for Habitat for Humanity.  

Plans for Homeless Shelter at George Washington University Dorm Postponed 

A homeless shelter that was to open this year is now set to launch in spring or summer 2024. In August this year, D.C. closed on a $27.5 million dollar purchase of a former dorm for George Washington University. The District wanted to convert the dorm, called the Aston, to a homeless shelter. The shelter would be the first to allow adult couples and mixed-gendered adult families to stay together. The delay in opening is due to prolonged contract negotiations. There have been many meetings and letters, as well as a rally by homeless advocates who expressed their frustrations against those who owned property nearby who said the shelter should be built elsewhere.  

Protesters Clash with Police at DNC Headquarters 

After weeks of calling lawmakers and holding demonstrations inside the Capitol, protesters donned black shirts that read “Cease Fire Now” and linked arms outside the Democratic National Committee entrance in Southeast. They thought that speaking to elected leaders face-to-face as they entered a private event would be the next step to getting their voices heard with regard to the war between Israel and Hamas. Unfortunately, things escalated quickly, and Capitol Police reported that six officers were injured while protesters claimed 90 people afflicted with minor injuries. No one was transported to an area hospital, but Capitol Police arrested one man for assaulting an officer.  

First Lady Jill Biden Unveils White House Holiday Decorations 

First Lady Jill Biden wants us all to feel like kids again this holiday season. The theme of the White House holiday decorations this year is “Magic, Wonder and Joy.” Expect to see oversized decorations full of plenty of nostalgia and whimsy. Throughout two floors, a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the classic poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” is presented. The annual White House gingerbread house includes a sugar cookie replica of the book opened to the famous ending: “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.” Santa’s reindeer and sleigh fly high above the gingerbread White House. The White House Christmas tree, an 18.5-foot Fraser fir, is decorated with landscapes and neighborhoods from around the U.S. and a traditional train runs around the bottom of the tree.  

D.C. Public Library Hits Big Digital Milestone 

D.C. readers have checked out over two million digital books from the D.C. Public Library this year. A D.C. Public Library press release stated that this is nearly double the amount from last year. The move to online checkouts went through the roof during the pandemic in 2020. Since then, people have gotten more used to reading on their phones or e-readers. In case you’re wondering what the two millionth checked-out book was, it was “Land of Love and Drowning,” by Tiphanie Yanique, an historical fiction based in the Virgin Islands in the 1900s.  

District Re-Names Good Hope Road to Marion Barry Avenue

Following petition drives by Ward 8 Council member Trayon White and others, the D.C. Council voted May 1, 2023 to re-name Good Hope Road in Anacostia to Marion Barry Avenue, in honor of the District’s “Mayor for Life,” four-term mayor Marion S. Barry, Jr. who served as mayor of Washington D.C.  from 1979 to 1991 and again from 1995 to 1999. On Dec. 9, enthusiastic crowds of hundreds of people celebrated the street name-change in the spot at the heart of Mayor Barry’s political power-base and support in D.C.’s Ward 8. Speakers at the unveiling of the new road sign included Barry’s widow, Cora Masters Barry and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.  Some residents questioned the road’s name switch, since the original name “Good Hope Road” commemorated the legacy of Anacostia’s most famous historical resident Frederick Douglass.

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