Dear PoP – Has the Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Drum Circle Started Back Up?

by Prince Of Petworth May 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm 45 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user pablo.raw

“Dear PoP,

I’m wondering if the drum circle at Malcolm X park is up and running for the season yet?”

Yup! They even have a Facebook page.

Though another reader notes:

“This picture was taken at about 6 pm on Saturday evening in Meridian Hill Park. Tons of people in the park on a gorgeous day and the restrooms were closed. Dumb dumb dumb.”

  • Truth

    The drum circle has definitley started back up in Meridian Hill Park. It is always such a great event. I am not sure about the drum cirlce in the Malcolm X Parks in Philidelphia or Boston. Weird you should ask about a park that does not exist in DC.

    • greent

      so sorry you don’t like the unofficial official name.

      Some people call it Reagan, others still call it National. It is still the DC airport.

      • yuppiehell

        even thought its not in DC

        • greent

          Nope, but it is the DCA.

          But if we could just retroceded the retrocession… it WOULD be in DC, and we would be a whole sqare again.

        • Anonymous

          Even though though isn’t spelled t-h-o-u-g-h-t.

        • Anonymous

          the land was once dc.

    • Ace

      Any want to go throw a frisbee down at Jon Stewart Park? Just because he spoke on the National Mall once, I get to rename it right? Didn’t think so. It is Meridian Hill Park…http://www.nps.gov/mehi/index.htm.

      • yes


        as in the 1,000,000 man march since that’s what I call the mall: The 1-million Man March Park.

      • MtP

        Malcom X. Jon Stewart. Clearly figures of equal historical import.

        • Truth

          “The common enemy is the white man.” – I think statements like this and Malcolm X’s general promotion of violence is a reason why folks don’t want a park named after him.

          • Chris

            Exactly. It’s the reason why we don’t have an Adolf Hitler Boulevard in town, despite the fact that according to Marge Schott, “he built good roads.”

          • greent

            “In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I will never be guilty of that again — as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man. The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks.”

            – I think statements like this, made in his final years, are why folks do want a park named after him.

  • Another guy named Chris


  • kimimary

    You must not be from around here Truth.

    • balls to you!

      DC is no longer 60+% African-American, so we can start calling MHP by its real name again.

      • Another guy named Chris

        What does race have to do with it? It’s about DC sovereignty, DC residents voted to change the name, Congress would not allow it.

        • Styglan1

          was there ever an official vote? or was it vote by committee? just curious.

          • Another guy named Chris

            I’m going off of memory and word of mouth so don’t flame me; but I believe the residents suggested the name and the Mayor submitted it to Congress, who denied it.

            Kinda like how we “voted” to have the Bullets changed to the Wizards….

          • balls to you!

            It’s a National Park, administered by the Rock Creek Park Service. Why the citizens or mayor of DC should have a say in it at all makes no sense.

            Do the residents of Montana have the right to vote to change the name of Yellowstone to Jibba-Jabba Park?

            Also, “renaming” it Malcolm X Park was apparently such a great service to his memory as it became the most dangerous park in the US for the two decades afterward. Its return to relative glory has really just occurred over the last 10 or so years.

          • Another guy named Chris

            Did you know that Washington DC is not even the name of the city we reside in? It is officially named the District of Columbia.

            My only point was to answer a question, I don’t really care what its called officially. I just know when I say, “I’m chillin at Malcolm X park”, everybody knows what the f*ck I am talking about.

          • Marion

            Mr. Balls is correct. DC residents do not get to rename national parks just as Wyoming residence cannot rename Yellowstone. DC residents like to feel aggrieved so we complain about being abused by the man. Whether its a J-walking ticket or Congress not letting us rename that park after a man who advocated violence during a time of great racial tensions we will never cease from being slighted by the man.

          • greent

            Well, DC residents did not get to rename it, as it officially remains Meridian Hill.

            It has been recognized as Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park on teh signage – nie way to ensure everyone knows what park they are in, regardless of the name.

            But again, what exactly is the harm in using a nickname for the park?

          • balls to you!

            There’s no harm in using Malcolm X over Meridian Hill; I simply take exception to when people claim that if you call it “Meridian Hill” that “you’re not from around here”. I am from around here, and I refuse to use “Malcolm X”. I will recognize it if someone asks for directions or tells me to meet them there, but unless the name change is made official, I won’t adopt it in my usage.

          • greent

            Balls: the impression you have given in this thread is that you DO have a problem with people calling it Malcolm X, beginning with:

            “so we can start calling MHP by its real name again”

          • yes

            I agree with Mr. Balls. I don’t have a problem with someone calling it Malcolm X to my face; that is, if someone asked me, “How do I get to Malcolm X Park”, I wouldn’t launch into a lecture on why they’re incorrect.

            However, on a website such as this, people KNOW it is technically Meridian Hill Park; people who write otherwise are just trying to appear cool and hip or “in the know”.

        • Former Lawyer

          The merits of Malcom X vs. Meridian Hill as park names aside, isn’t this national parkland? I’m admittedly clueless about how national parks get their names, and for all I know local residents get to pick them, but the sovereignty issue isn’t all that clear-cut. This isn’t exactly like the National Airport situation or the occasional threat to name most of the town after Reagan.

          • greent

            what’s the “Rock creek park service”?

            Almost all parks located in DC are federal parks.

            It’s an unofficial name.. like a nickname.

            Why is there any huff over an unoffical name?

            Captcha: Hufp

          • balls to you!

            I think the name is a combination of the fact that it’s on a perfect north-south meridian, and it’s on the top of a hill overlooking the monument.

            Not the most inventive name, but it has a simple elegance to it.

          • balls to you!

            There are a lot of National Parks in DC, but not all are maintained by the same divisions or groups of the NPS. The group that manages the cleanup, maintenance, leasing, etc. of Meridian Hill Park is the same that manages Rock Creek, Pierce Mill, makes sure the Rock Creek Parkway’s potholes are filled, etc.

            I think they are also in charge of Dumbarton Oaks, but they do not oversee any of the parks in the middle of traffic circles, like Logan (nee Iowa), Scott, etc., which are also federal parks.

            By the way, if you’re pissed (so to speak) about the bathrooms being closed, contact the Rock Creek management (they currently work out of the Klingle Mansion).

        • Anonymous

          Finally interceding at a proper time.

      • steve

        balls, where are your brains?

  • OP

    Thanks for posting my question! Glad to hear it’s back for the year!

    • The first photo was taken yesterday, it’s been going on for several weeks this year already.

  • andy

    I would be interested in starting jibba-jabba park.

    Also, I pity the fools who posted above.

    • mid city guy


    • PG

      I bet Mr. T in DC would hang out there.

  • LCM

    Did anyone ever figure out why the bathrooms close during the busy evening hours of the park? A couple Fridays ago I was at the park early in the afternoon and the bathrooms were open. They were nice, clean, and convenient! I went back to the park around 5:30 when it was much more crowded (and still very much light out) and they were locked. What are the hours exactly?

    • greent

      They are not posted by NPS.

    • balls to you!

      Probably the same hours as those in Rock Creek. The Nature Center closes at 5pm, and I think most of the bathrooms are locked at 5pm as well.

      Of course, Beach Drive is shut down in sections from 7am-7pm by the park police, but those hours are pretty loose (sometimes Drive is still closed at 9pm, or isn’t closed off at 7am, or is closed off at 6am – sort of a crap shoot).

      So, even if they claim the bathrooms are open 9-5, I would consider that pretty loose.

  • Anonymous

    Re: the restrooms, welcome to the ridiculousness of NPS-administered bathrooms in the DC area. Most of them close for the winter as soon as overnight temps go below 50, and generally do not reopen until 3 days after the latest date there has ever been a light frost since the Quincy Adams administration. Except for the heated bathrooms on Roosevelt Island — those only close for about 5 months out of the year.

    Also, whoever brought up Yellowstone, most of the park is in WY, not MT, meaning that if the locals were given jurisdiction it would just be an oil field.

    • balls to you!

      Good point regarding Yellowstone.

      As for the bathrooms, if the NPS actually had a budget beyond a few soiled dollars and some random pocket change, the bathrooms might be open more often. The Rock Creek group manages quite a lot, and Rock Creek is quite large, gets a lot of traffic and garbage from visitors (and mostly from cars commuting through), and they generally do quite well with what they have (and don’t charge admission).

      They could do better, but I doubt they have the staffing or budget to do much.

      Also, I know Meridian Hill is getting a $3+ million facelift from the early 2000s until l2013 or so, but I don’t know where this appropriation came from, or if it is outside of the NPS budget.

  • anon

    I love the middle-aged-former-dirty-hippies who dance here like elaine benes at an office party.

    • Andy(2)

      That post made my day!
      Reminds me of this great middle-aged couple I saw dancing a few months ago at 18th street lounge. Stoned out of their minds and dancing the night away like they were the only people around.

  • Saul

    1. The original point of this post was not to argue the name of the park. It was to know has the drum circle started up this year.

    2. So many people are misinformed about Malcolm X. If you read his autobiography the last few years of his life he denounced the racist & anti-Semitic beliefs of the Nation of Islam. He was a radical, one more inclined with a eye for an eye strategy to bring forth unity. Because you don’t know what a man goes through unless you walk in his shoes.

    3. We all go to school learning about all these great leaders, but nothing about these black leaders as well. They are as much a part of American History as any white american. Regan, Malcolm X, JFK, MLK, Washington & Garvy. It’s good to know the whole picture of America not just the corner.

    Sorry for the wordiness!!!!

  • Wayne

    The place name “Meridian Hill” gives our in-between neighborhood an identity. Otherwise it is just the vague place somewhere between Adams Morgan, Shaw, and Columbia Heights that happens to have a great park–with a fun and historical drum circle–in the middle of it. It is also the official name of the park, although I don’t object to Malcolm X. Taxi drivers are finally getting used to dropping off passengers in “Meridian Hill.”


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