For years, Turkey Tayac fought almost singlehandedly for the rights and recognition of his Native American group, the Piscataways. In the 1950s, he found some unlikely allies and successfully fended off an effort to build high rise apartments on sacred Piscataway lands in southern Maryland. A few years later, he helped convince the National Park Service to preserve the land for posterity. It was a remarkable achievement, and Turkey Tayac's work for inclusion would continue, even after his death.
Shock rippled through the steamy streets of Washington, DC, in early August 1979. The source of the buzz was not the result of back-to-back testing of nuclear weapons by the United States and the Soviet Union. It was not even the sale of the nearby Baltimore Orioles to D.C. lawyer Edward Bennett Williams for the grand sum of $12.3 million. The source of the city’s consternation involved the smooth timbre of a DMV staple – or the lack thereof. Felix Grant – one of Washington’s most beloved radio deejays for a generation – was being pulled from the airwaves.
The 1970s and 1980s saw increased Latin American immigration to the United States, and to D.C. in particular. At the time, there was limited access to Latin American performing arts, something that Rebecca Read and Hugo Medrano sought to fix when they founded Grupo de Latinoamericanos Artistes (GALA) in 1976. They never expected, though, that GALA would take off and eventually become the National Center for the Latino Performing Arts. Their journey to becoming cultural icons in D.C. also coincided with the changing Latin American community in the District.
On August 1, 1971, as attendees walked through the brightly-colored and slightly cramped booths, the smell of freshly-made food, the sound of voices young, old, and everything in-between filled the park, and the sense that everyone here belonged followed them. The festival wasn’t as large as the ones that would follow, for sure, but what it offered to guests was overwhelming: a feeling of camaraderie and community. The vendors and many of the attendees had different accents, different cultures, and different histories, but in Kalorama Park, they all shared the joy of showcasing their countries’ traditions.
This was the Latino Festival of 1971, which would begin a long tradition of celebrating Latino culture in Washington, D.C.
As the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment approached, proponents of the amendment held what was then known as the "largest parade for feminism in history" to pressure Congress for an extension to the ratification date.
Gay rights activist Larry “Deacon” Maccubbin was at a party with friends in 1975 when the topic of New York Pride eventually came up. As they were discussing who would be going, one of his friends asked why their own city, Washington, D.C., didn’t have a similar event ─ it was the nation’s capital, after all. The idea stuck in Maccubin’s head.
“If we go, we’re going to take this building with us...There’s going to be a helluva smoke signal.” That’s what Russell Means, an Oglala Dakota, told Evening Star reporters a few days after he and a group of several hundred other Native Americans broke into the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in Washington, D.C. and refused to leave.
In 1971 Washington’s leading LGBT activist became the first openly gay man to run for Congress. In just a two month campaign, Frank Kameny put gay rights on D.C.'s political agenda- and made them stick.