Anacostia Mourns Loss of Two Activists

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Darnell Bradford-El: 1946-2019
Members of the Moorish Science Temple of America, ministers of the Nation of Islam, community activists from the civil rights movement, educators and young adults gathered last month at historic St. Augustine Church in Northwest Washington to pay their respects to Darnell Bradford-El (1946-2019). They wore traditional kufis, fezzes and hijabs to denote their faith in Islam. Founded in 1913 by Noble Drew Ali, the Moorish Science Temple of America is a fraternal organization with a strong presence in the African-American communities of Washington, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Jersey and North Carolina.

Darnell Bradford-El grew up in Adams Morgan at 17th and Euclid Streets NW. He returned to this neighborhood as an adult after serving time in prison. Later life, he moved to in Old Anacostia on W Street SE.

While incarcerated at Lorton Reformatory in the 1970s, Bradford-El arranged transportation for inmates involved in a theatre program. Thus began a career in criminal justice reform that led him to found “Around the Corner to the World,” community center to provide enrichment activities for area youth and young adults. Bradford-El’s career was eulogized at his service by radio personality Roach Brown, founder of “Cease Fire: Don’t Smoke the Brothers” at his funeral. Al-Malik Farrakhan also joined Brown, sharing memories of organizing with Bradford-El throughout the city.

Bradford-El is survived by his wife of 15 years, Rosie Bradford-El, who is widely respected for her work at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency with the returning citizen community.

Marcia Parkes (bottom right) is remembered for her work as an historic preservationist in Old Anacostia. Photo: Nikki Peele

Marcia Parkes: 1965-2019
Residents of Old Anacostia also mourned the passing of preservation activist Marcia Parkes (1965-2019). An advocate for the Anacostia Historic District, Parkes was an active member of the preservation committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8A, the DC Preservation League, the Historic Anacostia Block Association, the Historic Anacostia Preservation Society and the L’Enfant Trust.

Parkes is remembered by this reporter for her quiet dignity and sharp intelligence. In the face of a recurring terminal illness, she maintained an unflappable grace. “The idea that Marcia will no longer have a physical presence at our next dinner, chat session, holiday, birthday celebration, vacation, is unimaginable,” activist Nikki Peele wrote in an online tribute. “Marcia was present during almost all of my milestone east-of-the-river moments.”