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UDC Law Hosts Opening Night of "On My Mind/In My Heart"

Wednesday, December 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Norrinda Brown Hayat
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WASHINGTON – On Nov. 30, 2017, the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law hosted opening night of On My Mind/In My Heart, written by the talented Caleen Jennings (sister of UDC’s own, Loretta Young-Jones). The performance provides a raw, authentic insight into the personal struggles and victories of six African-American women living in D.C. public housing. It explores the rise of gentrification in D.C. and the daily challenges public housing residents face in the district while fighting to maintain not only their homes, but also their sense of community.

The performers, Linda Brown (Greenleaf Senior), Paulette Matthews (Barry Farm), Indian Fuller (Greenleaf Additions), Robin Fields (Arthur Capper), Rhonda Hamilton (Syphax Gardens) and Abena Disroe (Hopkins), used language, drama, music and movement to express their personal challenges living in public housing. These challenges included having to walk over dead bodies in the 1980s and 90s during the crack epidemic, the “crabs in a bucket” mentality of some of their neighbors, the smell of urine in their stairwells, fighting cancers and illnesses due to the horrible conditions of public housing, gentrification and developing relationships with white neighbors.

Each woman also expressed how, even through all the challenges of living in public housing, their community was an extremely positive and important institution in their lives. They juxtaposed the community they have found in public housing with their feelings of loss now that gentrification is stripping the city of its natives. The women used the phrase “tell your story” as a way to transition between narratives, giving the performance itself a strong feeling of community and support. These women now contribute to the fight to save their literal and figurative communities with this amazing play.

If you missed the performance at UDC Law, you can still see it elsewhere in town. Performances are scheduled until December 16, 2017. The full list of dates and times can be found on Empower DC’s Facebook page.


Performers performing On My Mind/In My Heart
Performance of On My Mind/In My Heart

Performers performing On My Mind/In My Heart
On My Mind/In My Heart performers take a bow

Professor Norrinda Brown Hayat
Professor Norrinda Brown Hayat


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