Loose Lips

D.C. Council Loses Control of Emancipation Day in Funding Dispute

Tomorrow's Emancipation Day parade will be the last of its kind. Although the D.C. Council organized and paid for this year's parade, a budget dispute means control of future Emancipation Day celebrations will be handed over to the mayor's office, according to Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Vince Gray.

“Which makes sense, because that’s why you’ve got an executive branch," Ribeiro says.

The Gray administration and Council parade organizers, led by At-Large Councilmember and Emancipation Day enthusiast Vincent Orange, were at odds over how the parade would cover $116,000 in city costs related to the events, including $60,000 in police overtime pay. Ribeiro says organizers in Orange's office revealed that the parade couldn't cover the costs, despite a $100,000 budget increase last year that brought the Emancipation Day bankroll to $350,000.

In exchange for the executive branch swallowing the costs, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson agreed to hand over control of the events, according to Ribeiro. That's likely fine with Mendelson, who raised questions last year about the Emancipation Day budget increase.

Staffers for Orange and Mendelson didn't respond immediately to requests for comment.

Ribeiro says the administration is still looking at how the Council spent its budget this year.

“$350,000 is whole lot of money," Ribeiro says. "That’s a lot of taxpayer dollars involved there."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Joe

    That does make sense. And really, who on earth would think the Vincent Orange should be in charge of anything? That pretty much guarantees rampant corruption and total incompetence.

  • Boss Hogg

    Cancel this worthless event and use D.C. tax dollars for something really important like public safety.

  • Tight Lips

    @BossHogg No using my tax payers dollars for a got damn Cherry Blossom Tree is worthless.

    Vincent C Gray can kick rocks. This fool cries up and down DC isn't free and we are still enslaved but he doesn't want to help celebrate DC Emancipation Day? This holiday has been going on for years and now you have a problem?

    I hope Machen locks Gray up and throws away the KEY!

    This is what a bitter black politician from EOTR acts like when they know their days are numbers.


  • Boss Hogg

    Tight Ass, the Cherry Blossom parade is a national event paid for by the federal government and U. S. taxpayers all over the country. How many black D.C. residents attend this parade. Vincent Orange is an idiot from California. D.C. government employees are happy to have another paid holiday and most live in Maryland.

    5th Generation Washingtonian

  • Marvin E. Adams

    Some posts are suggesting that this event be cancelled. I do N-O-T concur. We all celebrate Oktoberfest, Saint Patrick's Day and a whole host of other events annually. It is extremely important that the citizens of Washington, especially in light of its status as a non-state, do as many other states and cities have done, with respect to promoting annual events, such as: 1) http://gullahfestival.org; 2) http://www.spoleta.org and http://www.scanfest.org.

    Better planning and organizing will only enhance what, on paper, appears to be a great product. Moving it to the weekend would be a great first step.

  • Boss Hogg

    According to ABC 7 Sam Ford, most people and D.C. residents never heard of or attend this event, Tight Ass. What a waste of local tax dollars.

  • There is no justice



  • Tight Lips

    @BossHogg DC taxpayers dollars aren't good enough to celebrate DC History, but you are in favor of citizens from all across the US to have their tax dollars spent on a bunch of trees from Japan?

    Since you claim to be a 5th Generation Washingtonian, why is it that none of your NATIVE WASHINGTONIAN POLITICIANS stepped up to the plate to establish the DC Emancipation Day holiday and events? Funny how it takes a Californian to come in a recognize a holiday for WASHINGTONIANS that don't even care.

  • Tbonebullets

    Orange knew what his budget was, and went 100K over-budget, for an event where some people are walking down the street. That is just Drunk. Until DC stops electing guys like this, believers in the possibility of Statehood are fools.

  • Not Surprised

    Those who do not know their history will always be influenced by ignorance.

    Kudos to Orange for putting pressure on the Mayor to make sure that the celebration reaches a new plateau and that the gov't spends more money to preserve this holiday.

    I am a native washingtonian and I think DC Emancipation Day should be taken more serious by DC residents and the Gov't.

    For all of you that have an issue with the event, why not check it out for yourself first before casting judgement on whether it's worth tax payers dollars or not.

    It's funny how people say "not worth my tax dollars" when I will bet any person $100 that they do not know WHERE their tax dollars are going. You could be crying about DC Emacipation Day but your actual Tax Dollars that the Gov't took from your check could've been used to clean up a side walk or to pay people from the Gov't Shutdown.

    Until we know for sure where our dollars are being spent, it's unfair to believe that EVERYTHING you view as a problem was paid for by your own money.

    In short, if your a Native or a DC Resident, you should want to be apart of this celebration.

    If you want DC Statehood, you should want to be apart of this celebration.

    If you believe in Black History or True American History, you should want to be apart of this celebration.

  • blkwrestl

    To Not Surprised Well said I agree with you 100% Thank you for educating us on this subject.

  • Tbonebullets

    I think there's a big difference between using public money to pay out unemployment checks or clean up trash on the streets, and going OVER-budget on a friggin' parade. If you want a 20-minute fireworks show, free hot dogs, and a line of rolls-royces, then take some private donations howboutit.

  • Typical DC BS

    Yes, by all means, keep up the WONDERFUL DC tradition of spending 100k+ on a worthless parade. In the words of Marion Barry - "Get over it". NOBODY CARES about emancipation day.

  • Cherry Blossoms!

    @Typical who cares about DC Emancipation Day, all those slaves in Ward 7 & 8.

    Tell your Nat Turner (Marion Barry) when he croaks over we are going to elect white people to run that side of town.

    Therefore we can emancipate ourselves from the foolishness that goes on.

    The Bullfrog actually has a good idea for once! Gray is bitter and who cares what he thinks? His ass is GONE and his legacy is DONE!

  • Tight Lips

    @CherryBlossoms pure ignorance...

  • Ward 6 Resident

    I attended the parade this morning and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    I am anxious to know how Bowser will plan this celebration for next year.

    I work for the DC Gov't so it was nice to have the day off and enjoy the festivities with my son.

    It's important to me that my child embraces our history and the struggles we go through.

    I find it disheartening that at his school, Black History & DC History aren't taught at the level I expect.

  • NativeWashingtonianMess

    What makes this holiday worthwhile? Do you even know what you are celebrating?

    The Emancipation of slaves is something worthy of commemoration, but the average NATIVE WASHINGTONIAN is generally ignorant of the holiday and really could not care less about it.

    Complicating this fact, is that HISTORY shows though Lincoln's own writings that slave owners were compensated for their loss of chattel property and that he really would have done NOTHING for the enslaved had the institution not been a major threat to the United States.

    So the take home here is that DC residents should WASTE 350K to a half million dollars (no including the LOSS OF PRODUCTIVITY due to DC government closures) to hold a parade to memorialize the freeing of slaves from slave owners who were paid, ONLY for those same slaves to have to live under clouds of Jim Crow and segregation until the mid 60's.

    That money could be spent on a more useful enterprise. What are Ballou's (the marching band featured in last year's parade) test scores? Graduation rates? SAT/ACT/ASVAB scores?

  • Tight Lips

    @Native thanks for giving us a reason why Native Washingtonians are ignorant lol.

    Once again, the fact that a Californian cares more about your freedom than those who pride themselves off being NATIVES is hilarious.

    "So the take home here is that DC residents should WASTE 350K to a half million dollars (no including the LOSS OF PRODUCTIVITY due to DC government closures) to hold a parade to memorialize the freeing of slaves from slave owners who were paid, ONLY for those same slaves to have to live under clouds of Jim Crow and segregation until the mid 60's."

    Question of the Day: How many "ignorant" natives celebrated when Vince Gray and other dumbass CMs protested and got locked up for "DC Statehood"?

    DC will NEVER become a state, but yet and still yall marvel and Vince Gray & Kwame taking a weak ass stand when in all seriousness it was a publicity stunt?

    Please do not tell me what is a waste vs what isn't.

    Kwame Brown and the Navigator situation = waste of tax payers dollars

    Vince Gray and the shadow campaign mess this city has gone through = Waste of Tax Payers Dollars.

    Fighting for DC Statehood when our Mayor is a criminal = WASTE OF TAX PAYERS DOLLARS


    don't get me started lol. I appreciate my history, its sad you could give two craps about yours.

    & Ballou's Test Scores? Do you know that before Orange passed legislation, students had almost finished the school year without receiving books for some of their classes?

    If anything, performing for the parade helped Ballou showcase their talents and people realized that we have gifted children in our school system rather than judging them by the scores.

    I'd rather my Tax Payers Dollars go towards our History than a damn Cherry Blossom Tree.

  • Boss Hogg

    Tight Ass, you need to let it go. You are in the minority on this issue. Most black, Latino, and white D.C. residents feel having this event is a waste of local D.C. tax dollars. This money could be used to put more police officers on the streets. Blacks were never free or treated equal in this country, until the 'Civil Rights Act' was passed. I agree with NativeWashingtonianMess, Jim Crowism and segregation was just as awful as slavery in the United States. I didn't live through slavery, however, I lived through Jim Crow laws and segregation. Vincent 'Bullfrog' Orange is an idiot and he didn't get many votes during both his runs for D.C. mayor.

  • Sebastian Townview

    I agree that it is important to acknowledge and celebrate the fact that the slaves in Washington DC were the first freed, well before Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. However, I question whether we are spending nearly half a million dollars ($350K budgeted + $116K unbudgeted) appropriately. These two perspectives are not incompatible.

    Instead of spending the money on a parade, why not spend it on an educational program, integrated into school curricula, so that young people in DC schools (public, private, & charter) actually learn why this day matters so much? As many commenters have noted, the average DC resident does not understand why this day is a holiday.

    Regarding the Cherry Blossom Festival - there is a nonprofit organization that raises funds for this celebration. Taxpayer funds pay for very, very little of this event. Check out the long list of sponsors here: http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/about/sponsors/. Like the trees themselves, the Festival is supported by philanthropic funds, not government ones. And unlike Emancipation Day, funds for DC police overtime are reimbursed to the city.

    Why not take a page from the Cherry Blossom Festival and establish an Emancipation Day Festival nonprofit? It would ensure the event was celebrated independent of politics. Set it up as a 501(c)(3) and donations would be tax-deductible. Then you could hire professionals to manage the organization, further ensuring any donations were spent wisely.

    Just my opinion ...

  • S.E.

    "Once again, the fact that a Californian cares more about your freedom than those who pride themselves off being NATIVES is hilarious".

    Curious as to Californian reference?

  • Tight Lips

    @S.E. Orange isn't a native washingtonian. He is from California.

    The reference being that a Californian has done more to celebrate and preserve the history/legacy of this celebration than the native washingtonian whose relatives were the ones freed.

    How can someone of different lineage embrace your history more than you do?

  • S.E.

    "@S.E. Orange isn't a native washingtonian. He is from California".

    What's the flavor of his jockstrap?

  • Tight Lips

    @S.E lol is that the best you got?

    Anyway, the event was great and maybe you should attend next year.