Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District
This gathering place is situated at the heart of a diverse and growing collection of neighborhoods. Of this eclectic place, Hyattsville historian, Andra Damron, wrote, “Hyattsville, at first glance, may be seen as a typical Washington, DC, suburb, with growth spurred by the railroad, streetcar, and automobile. However, its prominence in Prince George’s County was earned by its many firsts and innovative residents whose optimism and ingenuity make Hyattsville’s history unique.”
What first attracted Busboys and Poets’ owner, Andy Shallal, to this distinct community was the Gateway Arts District’s vision to be a place where artists are viewed as “community assets” and where the District strives to meet their needs. Here, we find numerous opportunities to live, work and play–in ways both affordable an enriching–in just four small towns. The existence of a Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville also plays a role in making the Gateway Arts District as a destination spot for artists of all ages and disciplines, as well as students in the nearby town of College Park, visitors and residents throughout the DC metropolitan area.
The Zinn Room is dedicated to Howard Zinn, the activist, educator, historian and playwright best known for his work, A People’s History of the United States. The mural in the Zinn Room was painted by Busboys and Poets owner, Andy Shallal. It draws inspiration from Langston Hughes’ poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”. Four bodies of water converge at the center, where Howard Zinn is prominently featured.
The dedication of the Howard Zinn Room took place on September 21, 2011 (International Day of Peace), with a lively celebration hosted by Dave Zirin, progressive activist and sports writer. The evening featured performances, readings from “The People Speak Live!”, and appearances by Dr. Cornel West, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Medea Benjamin, Jeff Zinn, Emma’s Revolution, Regie Cabico, Barbara Ehrenreich, Marian Wright Edelman, Cindy and Craig Corrie, Beverly Daniel Tatum, David Swanson, Phyllis Bennis, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Geoff Millard, Kymone Freeman, Judy Richardson, Mary Beth Tinker, Kevin Zeese, Laura Flanders, Gloria Minott, and Jay Winter Nightwolf.
While the evening also proved to be a deeply saddening one (Troy Davis was executed on September 21st), Andy Shallal reminded the crowd, “Hope is in our midst, it’s in our DNA, any activist understands what hope looks and feels like.” Our Hyattsville location carries the memory and legacy of Howard Zinn’s timeless words, “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” Read more about the dedication of The Zinn Room and International Day of Peace here.
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