On Monday January 18th, 2016, I attended a Vegan outreach event organized by Max Broad at the MLK Parade in Anacostia. He stated in his email a couple of days earlier that it would “cold cold” but I figured if I could handle protesting the Foie Gras festival for an hour, this wouldn’t be so bad.
Anacostia metro station is a block from the parade start and our meeting point. The station was supposed to have all day parking so when I got there I was surprised to see no parking, deck or anything. I drove into the neighborhood and parked at the closest spot. When I got out of the car, the cold hit me like a ton of bricks…especially at my feet. The shoes I was wearing allowed the wind the pass through and I could really feel the cold. When I got to the station, I walked around trying to find a spot where I would be shielded from the wind but I had no luck…the best spot was outside where the sun was shining and offered temporary relief.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long. About six of us showed up and had a meeting of the minds to ensure we were all on the same page before we headed out. Max mentioned that since the attendees came for the MLK parade, we should be cognizant of that fact and not attempt to hijack the event with our message. He was right. I became a little concerned that considering how important this day was, perhaps it wasn’t right to flyer it with a Vegan message. Still, I was there and I was going to stick it out to gain some experience. Max also mentioned that quality was more important that quantity and we should try to have genuine conversations with attendees instead of sticking flyers in their hands and walking away. Again, I was concerned…I didn’t have the knowledge to have genuine conversations…I’m no Bruce Friedrich after all.
Soon enough the parade started and we made our way to the crowd. It seemed like most everybody was in the parade and very few spectators. It made sense in a way…everybody should be involved in bringing MLK’s dream to fruition, there should be no spectators. We naturally segregated into smaller groups and started walking with the parade marchers and slowly made attempts to hand out flyers. The attendees didn’t seem to mind that we were handing out Vegan literature at the MLK parade, though I wasn’t having much luck with getting into genuine conversations.
The parade was a bit disorganized…the groups started and stopped quite a bit, one coordinator I asked didn’t know where the end was, while another said the parade was moving too fast.
After another hour of sporadic flyering, I got more into the event itself and got into the moment. One of the vehicles was playing MLK’s speech on speaker in a loop and I walked along it down to the end of the parade. By that time I was separated from the group for a while and I don’t believe any of them made it to the end. The way back was longer since I was going in the opposite direction and life returned to normal. The closer I got to my car the faster I walked and almost walked past the street where I parked. When I got in I saw the time was 1:30 p.m….I had been outside for over three hours!
I’m glad I went since I hadn’t flyered in a while. I’m also glad I took part in the parade after the flyering. I don’t believe I’d want to flyer again in this weather. I’d also want to become better at having genuine conversations because I think that will have more of an impact than simply handing out flyers randomly.