Anacostia Council’s Boat Ride Emphasizes Need for Support

by: James Wright Special to the AFRO jwright@afro.com
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Many of the District of Columbia’s political elites took a boat ride on the Potomac River on the Nina’s Dandy to praise the work of the Anacostia Coordinating Council and were asked to support the organization more.

Washington D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), D.C. Council Chairman Phil Pannell (D) and D.C. Council members Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7), Anita Bonds (D-At Large) and Trayon White (D-Ward 8) were joined by 200 riders in the ACC’s annual boat ride that took place this year on Sept. 30. Philip Pannell, the interim chairman of the ACC and executive director, said the boat ride was special because it was the silver anniversary —  its 25th year — but said more support is needed from residents of the District.

Arrington Dixon is a former chairman of the D.C. Council and current executive director of the Anacostia Coordinating Council who is requesting help from area businesses to fund the organization. (Courtesy photo)

“ACC is at a crossroads and it is up to the community to decide if it should continue to exist,” Pannell said. “Please reflect on what you think the ACC has done for the community and, if you feel that ACC should continue to exist, your support is urgently needed.”

The ACC was founded in 1983 to advocate for the Metro Green Line coming to the Anacostia neighborhood. After the Anacostia station was opened in 1991, the leaders of the organization decided to continue to operate as an advocacy outfit.

Former D.C. Council Chairman Arrington Dixon (D) became the chairman of the ACC in 1994 and it has expanded its role to become a cultural and civic beacon in all Ward 8 communities. The ACC sponsors a “Back to School” program, recognition of Ward 8 advisory neighborhood commissioners and a Christmas toy giveaway. It also played a key role in the creation of the Anacostia Playhouse and the re-invigoration of the area’s civic associations.

However, Dixon stepped down in June and his firm, Arrington Dixon & Associates (ADA), a government contractor, cannot continue to underwrite the ACC’s activities, as it has done for years. Dixon said that it was time for others to support ACC.

“Businesses need to do what I did and that is to adopt non-profits,” Dixon told the gathering. “We have tables at this boat ride that are $1,000 and while we appreciate that, we need businesses to do more than just that.” The fundraiser raised $15,000 for the organization.

Pannell said that ACC operates on $8,000 a month, which he said was low compared to other organizations in the city that do similar work, and is aggressively seeking grants and gifts from businesses and individuals. To provide additional funds to the organization, there was a raffle held with gifts for winners such as having lunch with Norton in the U.S. House of Representatives cafeteria or a dinner at Georgina’s, a restaurant in Ward 8.

Bonds honored Dixon with a city proclamation for his years of service to the District. Dixon was on the District’s first elected council in 1974 as a Ward 4 representative and served as chairman of the council from 1979-1983, and had a stint as an appointed at-large council member by the D.C. Democratic State Committee from August-December in 1997.

Bowser, who was one of Dixon’s successors as the Ward 4 council representative, presented him with a proclamation and noted her administration is working on affordable housing, jobs and “increasing African American prosperity in our city.”

Bowser, who formally set her campaign in motion for re-election in late September, broke with practice and stayed on the boat ride the entire time chatting with riders.

“The ACC is 34 years-old and this boat ride is 25,” he said. “This is the only fundraiser that it does and we should support ACC broadly. They are in the community and they have helped to keep crime down in the community.”

Pannell presented awards to Monica Ray, the president of the Congress Heights Community Training & Development; Vernard Gray, jazz activist; United States Coast Guard Jonathan I. Schafler, who has been a mainstay in Ward 8 activities and received ACC’s 2015 Community Service Award and former D.C. Council member Sandy Allen.

“All I am trying to do is to make Ward 8 a better place to live,” Allen said.

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