On Sundays, We Go To Malcolm X Park
Malcolm X Park or Meridian Hill Park
Meridian Hill Park is the official name of the park located at 16th St NW & W St NW, Washington, DC 20009. Malcolm X Park is the park’s unofficial nickname. Depending on who you ask they will refer to the 12 acres of land differently. For the purposes of this article, I will be referring to the park as Malcolm X Park.
How did the park get the nickname ‘Malcolm X’ Park?
Malcolm X Park was a name adopted after a speech given by activist Angela Davis in 1969. A year later, there was a bill introduced in Congress to change the name from Meridian Hill Park to Malcolm X Park. But, the bill did not pass.
I recently went to the park for the first time.
I walked to the park from Columbia Heights Metro Station. Near the station, the streets look like ordinary city streets. They were filled with pedestrians, panhandlers, and retail stores. As I began to walk in the direction of the park, the architecture began to change. The buildings began to resemble European architecture.
As I stood across the street from the park, I admired the fortress-like fence that covered the perimeter. Entering the park, there was a plaque to the left of me that detailed the history of the park. Directly in front of me there was a secluded area that was fenced off with barbed wire and a sign that read ‘Field Office’.
I turned the corner and was immediately greeted by the music that filled the entire park. I began to examine my surroundings. There were benches along the perimeter of the park. Each bench was filled with jolly people. Behind the first set of benches was the park’s restroom and water fountain area. As I looked into the distance, I could see the center of the park was filled with children frolicking and numerous picnic dates.
I walked towards them. As I did, the sounds of the drums grew louder. (The musicians were located near the staircase. The park’s staircase leads to the lower level of the park). Near the musicians were people dancing and different business stands. People were selling fresh produce and clothes amongst other products at these pop-up stands. I grabbed a seat near a business stand to take in the scenery. After sitting there for a few minutes, I made my way to the lower level of the park.
I walked down the stairs to look at the infamous cascading fountain. The water flows through 13 linked basins into a reflecting pool. However, to my surprise, there was no water flowing through the fountain. There were only pockets of rainwater trapped in some of the basins. I was saddened by this sight.
To end my visit at the park, I grabbed a seat in the grass and gazed off into the distance.
Update: While writing this article, I learned that the Park has numerous historic statues and memorials. During my visit, I did not see any statues.