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Credit: Photograph by Nancy Shia

Press Release

Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum gathers scholars, activists and citizens to take a hard looks at gentrification
“A Right to the City: The Past & Future of Urban Equity” symposium convenes with national experts to discuss issues

It’s a real conversation starter that, now, for the first time in human history, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities and that this unprecedented rate of urbanization has presented major challenges for communities trying to achieving sustained and equitable growth. In conjunction with its 50th anniversary exhibition, “A Right To The City,” the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum is convening scholars, organizers/activists, nonprofit leaders, concerned citizens and others on Friday, Oct. 26 from 9am–6:30pm for timely conversations on this issue.

“We have assembled thought leaders at the symposium not only to get better understanding of how the American city has been shaped by more than a half-century of unequal and unjust hope development, but also how communities are mobilizing to work toward a more equitable future,” said Samir Meghelli, senior curator at the museum. Meghelli organized the acclaimed exhibition currently on view at the museum which looks at community change in six neighborhoods in the District of Columbia.

“Like our exhibition, this symposium has struck quite a nerve given the number of people wanting to attend” said Lisa Sasaki, interim director of the museum. “‘The right to the city’ —as Curator Meghelli points out— resonates as much today as in 1968 when French sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefrebvre first offered the notion as demand for ‘… a renewed right to urban life.’”

The event will be taped and made available on the museum’s website by the first of next year. It will also launch a 2019 Conversation Series of public programs offering a deeper dive on many of the issues explored. Collaborating partners on the symposium are: American Universityt’s Metropolitan Policy Center; ONE DC (Organizing Neighborhood Equity); the Visionary Organizing Lab and the National Fair Housing Alliance.

Symposium Schedule:

  • 9:00 am – Continental Breakfast and Check-in
  • 10:00 am – Welcome: Lisa Sasaki, Interim Director, ACM; Remarks: Samir Meghelli, Senior Curator, ACM
  • 10:20 am – Panel I: From Urban Renewal to Gentrification: Planning, Housing, and Neighborhood Change Moderator: David Freund, Associate Professor of History, University of Maryland, College Park. Panelists: Howard Gillette, Professor of History Emeritus, Rutgers University–Camden; Kimberley Johnson, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University; Nancy Mirabal, Associate Professor of American Studies and Director of the US Latina/o Studies Program, University of Maryland–College Park and Gregory Squires, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy and Public Administration, George Washington University
  • 12:00 pm – Lunch
  • 12:45 pm – Keynote Conversation: Scott Kurashige, Professor, University of Washington Bothell and Samir Meghelli, ACM
  • 1:50 pm – Panel 2: Neighborhood Power: Organizing in the Aftermath of Civil Rights Moderator: Tanvi Misra, staff writer, CityLab; Panelists: Amanda Huron, Associate Professor of Interdiscplinary Social Sciences, University of the District of Columbia; Rosemary Ndubuizu, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Georgetown University and Diane Wong, Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow, New York University
  • 3:25 pm – Panel 3: Facing the Future: Working Toward Equity in Our Cities Moderator: Ramon Jacobson, Acting Director, LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation). Panelists: Amanda Alexander, Founding Executive Director, Detroit Justice Center; Gloria Bruce, Executive Director, East Bay Housing Organizations; Dominic Moulden, Resource Organizer, ONE DC (Organizing Neighborhood Equity DC) and Judge Victoria Pratt, Professor, Rutgers Law School
  • 5:00pm – Summation and Closing Remarks: Dekonti Mends–Cole, Vice President (Mid–Atlantic), JP Morgan Chase Global Philanthropy; Samir Meghelli, Senior Curator, ACM
  • 5:15 pm–6:30pm – Reception/Exhibition self–tours

About the Museum: Established in 1967, the Anacostia Community Museum focuses on examining the impact of contemporary social issues on urban communities.

For more information, call (202) 633-4820; for tours, call (202) 633-4844. Website:

Media Only:
Marcia Baird Burris (202) 633-4876; (202) 320-1735 (cell)

Media Website:;

Note to editor:Images for publicity can be obtained from Also visit the museum website at for the calendar of public programs associated with the exhibitions.