The “We Shall Overcome” Award


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Cheryl Barnes, who will be honored at the Washington Peace Center's Activist Awards this Wednesday

Wednesday evening at the Washington Peace Center’s Activist Awards, Cheryl K. Barnes will be honored with the “We Shall Overcome Award” for her tireless work on behalf of the most vulnerable District residents. In nominating Ms. Barnes for the award, the Washington Peace Center said, “She spends many of her hours listening to folks that are living on the streets and sharing her testimony of being a former drug addict and alcoholic who listened to others who told her that she too could obtain hope in life.”

Ms. Barnes said, “I lived on the streets for 35 years. In the shelters, in parks, because of my addiction. If it wasn’t for a place like CCNV, who housed (at that time) 1200 people, meets all the need for the human, from the old to the young to the middle aged, to be housed, to have a roof over our heads. It was a shelter, and it helped me get to where I am today, because, as I went through the system and needed… when it was snowing, like it was last year, I had a shelter to go to, where I was adequately helped. Now, it’s like, ‘to each his own, you’re on your own.’ And that’s not the way it should be.”

Ms. Barnes continued, “There is a need for shelters. You never know what situation is going to happen to you. You can get burned out tonight. You can get sick tonight and if you don’t have any family to fall on, or friends to fall back on, you need the shelters. There’s folks who travel all over the United States and they live from shelter to shelter… They’re looking for jobs. Just like it was back in the depression. People are going state to state looking for work, and they cannot afford to live in an expensive hotel. So they have to stay at shelters from time to time. Shelters are very much always gonna be needed.”

In addition to Ms. Barnes, we’ve recently interviewed two others who will be honored Wednesday at the Washington Peace Center’s Activist Awards: April Goggans, a tenant organizer, and Rosa Lozano, an activist and youth organizer with Casa de Maryland.

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