People worked out with trainer Gym Jonez in Black Lives Matter Plaza, where they commemorated the area’s first anniversary with a day of health, fitness and celebration. (Screenshot)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor
mgreen@afro.com

On June 5, the District of Columbia celebrated the first anniversary of Black Lives Matter Plaza in Northwest with a day of health, fitness, and in true D.C. fashion- GoGo.  

The day included a fitness class led by renowned trainer Gym Jonez, that came with a free workout mat for the first 100 participants, refreshments offered by the Black-owned restaurant “Turning Natural,” a walk-up vaccination clinic and a cranking performance from the celebrated Go Go group Backyard Band.

Black Lives Matter Plaza was commissioned by Mayor Muriel Bowser last year after the National Guard violently stormed demonstrators in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, so that former President Donald Trump could take a photo-op in front of a nearby church.  The protests initially begun in Lafayette Square as a means to combat police brutality and demand justice after the highly publicized murder of George Floyd, and other African American victims, at the hands of police.

People took to Lafayette Square in early June 2020, to chant, “Black Lives No Matter,” “No justice, no peace,” and the words famously uttered by Floyd and Eric Garner as they were murdered by police, “I can’t breathe.”  The National Guard storming the protestors for the former president’s photo moment completely disrupted peaceful protests and what many saw as a power move against the demonstrators.  

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks in Black Lives Matter Plaza for the area’s first anniversary commemoration. (Screenshot)

Bowser commissioned the local artists to create Black Lives Matter Plaza as a reclamation of the City’s land and rights. In big, bright, bold, yellow letters, the  words, “Black Lives Matter,” were painted along the Lafayette Square area of 16th Street N.W., leading to the White House.  “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” street signs were also created and unveiled for good measure for no confusion on the name of the area leading to the presidential quarters.

After surprising Washingtonians and the world with the message and wake up call to emphasize “Black Lives Matter,” she shared the reveal of the monumental moment and area by showcasing it to Congressman John Lewis just a month before he passed from cancer.

One June 5, Bowser took to the same area where she stood with Lewis a year earlier to commemorate the first anniversary of Black Lives Matter Plaza.

“We are so pleased today that people are here to celebrate fitness, celebrate health, celebrate our Black lives, but also the autonomy of Washington, D.C. And there’s no better way to do that than with our own GoGo music,” Bowser said.

National Committeewoman for the D.C. Democrats Sheika Reid was present for the occasion and said it was a perfect way to celebrate Black vitality.

“What’s a better celebration of Black life than Black health?  Gym Jonez’s workout class reminded us that we must protect our lives yet have such a good time doing so,” Reid said.

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor