Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a bill into law this week making go-go the official music of Washington, D.C., at a time when activists and political leaders are trying to protect the city’s Black culture amid rampant gentrification, reports the Huffington Post.
The legislation, signed into law on Wednesday, was first introduced last year by D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) to make go-go “the official music of District of Columbia,” according to the Washington Post.
In April 2019, a Metro PCS vendor in the Shaw neighborhood that has played go-go music from outdoor speaks since 1995 went silently due to a noise complaint, according to The Washington Post.
“A resident of the luxury apartments down the block complained about the neighborhood signature soundtrack, eventually prompting T-Mobile to ask owner Donald Campbell to silence the congas and timbales,” the article sites.
Members of the community rallied together in protest of growing gentrification that attempted to erase the city’s “indigenous go-go music, which combines elements of funk, hip-hop, soul, and other styles,” according to Huffington Post Black Voices. The genre has played on the exact block of the storefront named after “The Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown.
Thus, the #DontMuteDC movement was born to combat the culture’s erasure and ignited a “Don’t Mute D.C.’s Go-Go Music and Culture” petition co-created by Howard University assistant professor Natalie Hopkinson and community activist/author Ronald Moten in April 2019.
— DontMuteDC (@dontmutethemvmt) February 19, 2020
Councilman McDuffie is one of the many local elected officials who supported the movement, calling the music more than a genre: “It is the catalyst that supplies the means for people to take care of themselves and their families.”
McDuffie’s legislation also requires the mayor to “implement a program to support, preserve, and archive” go-go music.
McDuffie: "Go-Go is more than music. It’s more than a simple genre. It is our home-grown genre. It is the catalyst that supplies the means for people to take care of themselves and their families. It is the way that folks stayed out of the streets" #DontMuteDC #LongLiveGoGo pic.twitter.com/o0Fk0K6rST
— CM McDuffie's Office (@CM_McDuffie) February 19, 2020
“When you try to silence the music, you’re also trying to silence our heritage, our ancestors,” Black Lives Matter DC organizer Neenee Taylor told the Post.