In DC’s Ivy City neighborhood, a showdown over Crummell School’s fate – The Washington Post – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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“We have nowhere to go,” said Diamonte Powell, 13, as he and his buddies, Joseph and Zo, tossed a football that sometimes careened off the hoods of parked sedans. A pocket park around the corner is known as a haunt for drug users and vagrants. Four people were shot there last month.

The racial and economic disparities that define many major American cities became the focus of urgent national concern after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis last year catalyzed months of protests. In Ivy City, hopes of narrowing those disparities center on a century-old landmark — a long-boarded-up public school named for Alexander Crummell, a prominent 19th-century Black minister and educator.

For years, residents have pleaded for the city to convert the handsome red-brick edifice and two-acre grounds into the kind of community center many neighborhoods take for granted. They envision an oasis of greenery with basketball courts, playgrounds and park benches, as well as a job training center and a public library.

While Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) largely supports that vision, a fierce debate over how to make it happen has transformed a symbol of neglect into a tableau of unrealized possibility.

In the latest twist, Bowser and a key lawmaker are in a stalemate over whether new, mostly market-rate housing is the way to finance the multimillion-dollar makeover.

If their dispute is not resolved in the next few weeks, Crummell could remain fallow for years to come, a prospect that infuriates residents such as Brenda Ingram, who lives down the street, in a house next door to where she grew up.

“I go to neighborhoods all over, nice neighborhoods and slums, and I see playgrounds,” said Ingram, 65, a retired forensic technician at St. Elizabeths Hospital. “We have nothing. Our kids have nothing. It’s like no one cares.”

More recent arrivals echo her complaint. Chloe Sellers, 35, an attorney who moved to Ivy City five years ago, said she would benefit from a library, where she could use a printer and copy machine. “We have a lot of restaurants,” she said. “We need something to invest in the people.”

A Bowser-backed plan to renovate the school and build several hundred units of housing stalled after activists complained the project included too little outdoor space. Even though nearly a third of the new homes would be subsidized, opponents contend that many of th


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