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June’s Coffee Chat will feature Keith Hasan-Towery, project director of Marshall Heights: Civic Mindedness and Engagement Incarnate, pre-Home Rule DC , and interviewees Loretta Tate and Debbie Thomas.

The project documented the community’s success stories and painful memories; stories of longtime residents and stories of those who departed or were displaced. Several narrators discussed the foundation of the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization and the impact it had on the neighborhood.

The panelists will discuss their roles in the project – what made it successful, how the challenges of covid-19 were overcome, and what impact they hope it will have in the future. They will present their findings, share clips from some of the interviews, and will provide advice to other aspiring community oral historians. The program will include an interactive session during which the audience will have the chance to ask questions of the panel and to describe potential oral history projects they are interested in starting.

ASL interpretation will be provided.

Panelist Bios:

Keith Hasan-Towery served as project director. A native of southern California, Hasan-Towery has made Marshall Heights and Washington, DC his home. He is the founder and Chair of the Marshall Heights Civic Association, he has served on numerous community committees and task forces. Hasan-Towery earned a Master of Public Policy from American University in 2012.

Alice Tate is a native Washingtonian that spent the majority of her childhood in Marshall Heights. She lived on one of the few farms in the neighborhood. She worked for the federal government and also raised her children in Marshall Heights. Mrs. Tate is an avid church-goer and a devout Christian.

Debbie Thomas, born Debbie White, is a native Washingtonian. She still lives in the house where she was born. Thomas worked for the Newspaper Guild and after her retirement and dedicated her time to working with elementary schools in a program that reads to students in various languages. Thomas helps organize an annual Central Ave reunion of neighbors that grew up in the community. The Thomases lost their son, Chris Thomas, to gun violence on C Street SE, but continues to be a positive force for youth in the community.

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