Local Radio Legend Kojo Nnamdi Narrates DC Public Library’s Home Rule Exhibit

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Local Radio Legend Kojo Nnamdi Narrates DC Public Library’s Home Rule Exhibit

“Up From the People: Protest and Change in DC” Part of Modernized Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Connecting Dr. King to Local Activism

For more than two decades, Kojo Nnamdi has explored the forces impacting local politics on the radio show bearing his name. Now, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, people can hear him explain District resident's fight for self-governance as part of a new exhibit “Up From the People: Protest And Change In DC."

“Up From the People: Protest and Change in DC” is the Library’s permanent exhibit on activism in D.C. It was installed as a part of the modernization of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library to honor Dr. King’s work and his connection to local activism. Kojo Nnamdi narrates “Home Rule,” a film that chronicles how District residents have fought for the right to self-government since the late 1800's.

"On my forearm I bear a tattoo of the Washington DC flag. It is the result of a coincidence that occurred during a fund raising drive at WAMU radio in Washington, but is reflective of a deeply held emotion about DC and its residents,” said Kojo Nnamdi. “In 1969, I arrived in a city best known as the capital of the U.S. What I have discovered, and enjoyed ever since, is a remarkable city of hundreds of thousands diverse residents, neighborhoods and businesses that together form the community that reflects our lives, wishes and aspirations. It is in tribute to this beautiful community  that I am proud to be a part of this presentation.”

"The Library is honored that Kojo has leant his voice to recounting the struggle for Home Rule in this exhibit," said Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the DC Public Library. "When I arrived in DC in 2014, the Kojo Nnamdi Show was one of he ways I learned about local politics. It is fitting that Kojo tell the story behind the lack of full voting rights in the District." 

For 23 years, Kojo Nnamdi hosted The Kojo Nnamdi Show, a live talk show produced by WAMU 88.5 that aired weekdays at noon. “Maybe the best radio interviewer in town” according to The Washington Post, Nnamdi welcomed a lineup of interesting and provocative guests who offer new perspectives about current events, political issues, social policy, art, science and other topics.

In “Home Rule,” Nammdi describes how Washington changed following the Civil War, how it became the first majority-Black US city in the 1950s and how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped bring more attention to the lack of voting rights for Washingotnians. While these efforts resulted in District residents winning the right to vote for local elected officials, Nnamdi notes that the District continues to lobby for statehood and voting representation in Congress. 

“Up From the People: Protest And Change In DC" has three parts:

  • "A Revolution of Values," located in the West gallery, looks at the issues that moved local activists and Martin Luther King Jr. to take action for justice.
  • “Voices of DC,” located in the Center gallery features short videos of D.C. residents discussing making change in their community.
  • "D.C. Represented," located in the East gallery, highlights local politics and history through displays on D.C. Mayor-For-Life Marion Barry, D.C. Home Rule, and the cultural impact of Go-Go and Punk music.

"A Revolution of Values" and “Voices of DC” are currently open to the public. "DC Represented" will open in September. The exhibit is located on the 4th floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. It can be viewed during Library operating hours.