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Cate Burgan

Portrait of Cate Burgan

Cate Burgan – Nashville, Tennessee

Working in one of Washington, D.C.’s oldest neighborhoods, Anacostia, I knew I was going to uncover interesting stories. It’s an area rich with Black history and pride. When speaking with the residents over the past semester, a lot of them felt animosity towards being an underfunded and misrepresented area, but that still didn’t break their spirit.

Something I did not expect was to encounter so many genuinely nice people. Being in a city, you often come across people who have their heads down and are trying to get to their next destination as quickly as possible.

But not in Anacostia.

It really felt like I was entering a small, tight-knit community within a big city. People yelled greetings at each other across the street, and were so kind to let us enter their spaces, businesses and, ultimately, their home. It became apparent to me how proud they were to be from “east of the river” in every conversation I had.

One place that I identified as a staple in the community was the Anacostia Arts Center. The center fosters community and captures that pride of what it means to be from the southside.

The AAC is multifaceted. It has art, food, clothes and a loving work family. I was lucky enough to speak with Jess Randolph, the center’s associate creative director. She explained to me that Anacostia is full of people with unique ideas and passions, but they don’t get the same opportunities to express them as those west of the Anacostia River.

A big aspect of the AAC is creating and promoting generational wealth among, specifically, Black women. I was able to speak with two of those women, and their gratitude and love towards not only the AAC –– which holds their businesses –– but the community which supports their business was increasingly apparent.

I was grateful to be a very small part of helping to tell these stories of Black women in Anacostia, but my biggest take away is that we cannot stop here.

As members of D.C., and especially those of us who reside west of the Anacostia River, we must make an active effort to support small businesses and creatives in Anacostia in any way we can in order to help promote wealth in their community.