Black history-makers, local community leaders and emerging pacesetters were fêted May 31 during a celebratory ceremony held in Washington, D.C., across from the Howard Theatre on the 600 block of T St. NW.
Live music, a cornucopia of enticing foods and a plethora of retail wares served as a backdrop to the ceremony, during which local nonprofit Pep Rally for Peace in the Streets (PRPIS) awarded current and future community leaders. PRPIS was founded by Garry Clark Sr. in 2005 to spotlight the positive message of African-American legacy in the community and to advocate for peace. And, the organization set aside the last Saturday of May to acknowledge those who were contributing to that legacy.
“I wanted to organize an event that would celebrate Black history outside of Black History Month,” Clark said about the event.
The Past, Present, and Future Black History Maker Crispus Attucks, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Civic Service Award was bestowed to Mayor Vincent Gray.
“The award is given to individuals who have committed 50 or more years of community service to our city and to the citizens,” said Clark.
U.S. Rep. Eleanor Norton Holmes (D-D.C.) and Councilmember Marion Barry were also recipients of the award.
“We felt that Marion Barry as well as Congresswoman Norton, who have devoted 70 years or more of Black community service to the citizens of our country and the District, needed to be recognized,” Clark said. “They are people who have made history and continue to set the pace for us to follow.”
Gray briefly spoke about the importance of passing the leadership torch to African-American youth, and applauded Clark for his staunch dedication to the community.
“This is a labor of love for Gary Clark,” said the mayor to the audience. “I want to thank Gary for what he does for our city every day.”
The Black History Maker Outstanding Village Member award was presented to Joe Green and Maggie Deville, the oldest living Black cowboy and cowgirl in the metropolitan area.
D.C. resident Breanna Swinton, who recently graduated from Delaware State College, was acknowledged for staying focused in her education and striving to become a future history-maker in the community.
PRPIS, under the umbrella of Power Jam Music Alliance (PJMA), serves the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area, advocating youth, young adult and senior citizen empowerment.
“We are a grassroots nonprofit organization, who is just trying to serve the community as God wants us to do,” said Clark.
Beyond the history-makers’ awards, the organization’s signature program focuses on feeding the homeless in addition to raising awareness on the rising number of homeless youth in D.C. In addition, PRPIS helps residents, including returning citizens, with job placements and community service, working with many different agencies.
Now in its ninth year, Pep Rally for Peace in the Streets Feed the Homeless has fed more than 10,000 people, including the 900 persons that were fed last year. In the District alone, according to a recent report by the Metropolitan Council of Governments, about 7,748 individuals were literally homeless in D.C., according to a January count.