2017 Alfred McKenzie Award


ONE DC (Organizing Neighborhood Equity DC) was formed in 1997 to respond to a rapidly changing city. Forces of economic development displaced existing African-American communities to make way for wealthier, often white, new residents. ONE DC organized communities in response, identifying as its purpose to “build sustainable community capacity and leadership so that low-income people of color can speak for themselves. ONE DC promotes leadership that does not tell others what to do but helps them take charge to build their abilities and skills.” It has led the way in effective community organizing, alternative economic development, and community education.

DC has the most unaffordable housing market in the country. Despite the fact that the District has become increasingly diverse, it has also become one of the most segregated cities in the nation. ONE DC is combatting this trend by working with low-income and working class DC residents of color and other organizational partners to preserve affordable housing and help tenants stay in their homes.

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee is proud to partner with ONE DC. In August of 2016, ONE DC, along with a group of families, filed a class action lawsuit challenging the discriminatory redevelopment of Brookland Manor, an affordable housing complex located in Northeast DC. More than 150 of the units house large families that have made their home on the property for generations. Brookland Manor is one of the few remaining DC communities with the four- and five-bedroom apartments necessary to provide safe, adequate housing for these families. Appallingly, the developer “justified” this discrimination claiming that large families are “not consistent with the creation of a vibrant new community.” The Washington Lawyers’ Committee and Covington & Burling represent ONE DC and the other plaintiffs in this case.

In addition, ONE DC’s organizers have identified important civil rights and racial justice issues facing tenants at multiple DC properties and connected those tenants to the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for legal representation. ONE DC has laid the groundwork for building trust between tenants throughout the District and the Committee, without which the Committee’s work would not be as fruitful and effective.

ONE DC’s values and work exemplify the life and spirit of Alfred McKenzie. In his name, we are proud to honor Dominic Moulden and all of his colleagues who make ONE DC a dedicated and courageous partner with which we hope to work long into the future.


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