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Pocket Change Winner “Juneteenth Rolling Workshop” Recap

The Pocket Change winners this year were the Greenleaf Recreation Center 50 and Over Club, who made a “Juneteenth Rolling Workshop trip. It was inspired by Opal Lee, the 97-year-old Grandmother of Juneteeth, whose portrait installation was in March 2024 at the National Portrait Gallery. The docent-guided exhibit was “Viewing Esteem Portraits of African Americans”. The guide, Mary Ellen Michelbegan at Opal Lee’s portrait, telling the group how she inspired President Joe Biden to make Juneteenth a federal holiday by walking two and a half miles a day and sharing the Juneteenth story with numerous communities along the way until she arrived in Washington, DC.

During the hour-long tour, the group saw portraits of Oprah Winfrey, Madam C. J. Walker, Barack Obama, Mariam Anderson, Thurgood Marshall, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Toni Morrison, Michell Obama, and William H. Johnson of the Fighters for Freedom Exhibit, to name a few. However, the Beyoncé portrait generated the most conversation. 

The group worked up an appetite for the Soul Food Luncheon at Saint’s Paradise Cafeteria. The menu included barbecue ribs, turkey wings, fried chicken, collard greens, yams, cabbage greens, cornbread, chocolate cake and banana pudding.

The return to Southwest included conversing about the trip to the museum and driving by Juneteenth-related DC Freedom Sites such as:

  • Yellow House Slave Jail Marker (corner of 7th and Independence Streets) Benjamin Banneker Park/Notley Young Plantation
  • Pearl Street – Pearl Escape of 1848 (The Wharf)
  • Dorothy Height’s former home (700 7th Street)
  • Thurgood Marshall’s former church (Saint Augustine’s – Maine & 6th Streets)
  • Carron Church (1354 First Street – site of the annual SW Juneteenth Festival)
  • Marvin Gaye’s former first DC home (1617 First St SW)
  • Dent House (156 Q Street SW)
  • Fort McNair – the site where the Abraham Lincoln assassination co-conspirators were hanged 159 years ago

Upon returning to Greenleaf Recreation Center, everyone received Juneteenth Packets distributed in SWBID bags, which included the book True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth: Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye Duncan.

The journey continued at the Annual Southwest Juneteenth Festival, a vibrant celebration of our history, heritage, and hope. Sponsored by the Carron Baptist Church, this event on Saturday, June 15, 2024, from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m., promises to be a day filled with inspiring readings from our participants’ books, sharing their unique perspectives and experiences.