Carl Gray Jr. was participating in the District’s second annual Funk Parade, which featured a street fair and concerts in the U Street area throughout the day, highlighted by a parade at 5 p.m. that started at the Howard Theatre in Shaw and ended at the Lincoln Theatre on U Street NW.
“Understanding brings us together to change the system; the lyrics and the music does that,” said Gray, a videographer for the Funk Parade who was 14 and living in Northwest when rioters burned down much of the U Street Corridor after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. “[The District] looked like a war zone. . . . How are we going to fight when we’re grooving?”
The Funk Parade was created by Justin Rood and Chris Naoum.
Thousands of people attended the parade, which featured local marching bands, dance troupes, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), and anyone else who wanted to jump in.
Bowser marched with a crew of supporters, chucking green bead necklaces at people who lined the streets on every jammed sidewalk, stoop, restaurant patio, fire escape, balcony and rooftop with a sliver of space.