#DC1968 project turns spotlight to pivotal year in city history

The project is designed to preserve the memories of one of DC's most significant years.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - A Northwest, D.C. woman has created a project to bring attention to what life was like during a pivotal year in DC history.

Marya McQuirter is in charge of the #DC1968 project. She is collecting artifacts like photos, yearbooks and fliers from the year 1968 in D.C. She then plans to use those memories to tell 365 different stories on a new digital platform in 2018.

That year will mark the 50th anniversary of the D.C. riots when unrest poured onto the streets of Washington following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, McQuirter hopes to show more of what was happening in Washington besides the riots. She wants to give a fuller picture of what life was like during that year in the District.

RELATED: #OffScriptOn9: Remembering the 1968 race riots

"1968 is often seen as the year that the city was destroyed," she said. "That is literally how people talk about it and I think that that is a problem."

Learn More: The #dc1968 project website

Some of the memorabilia McQuirter has already collected highlights student activism, the culture of the day and 1960's politics.

She told WUSA9 even a yearbook can tell a story.

"It allows you to get a snapshot of that particular moment and then when you look at them (memories) collectively, you're also able to make larger stories and narratives," McQuirter said.

The project has received a lot of interest too. Humanities DC awarded #DC1968 with a $15,000 grant. The DC Public library also once teamed up with McQuirter to teach locals about how they can preserve memorabilia in order to contribute it to the project.

Washington, D.C. native Thomas Fong has also lent #DC1968 a helping hand. He helped McQuirter identify people in a photo of DC's 1968 Chinese New Year parade.

"This picture is very dear to my heart," he said.

Fong still remembers the unrest in D.C. He could even recall when members of the National Guard were stationed near his Adams Morgan home.

"Overall, 1968 to me, when I reflect back, is almost like an uncovering of innocence," Fong said. "Because, that was the first time our parents were really worried about us on the streets."

He said he was happy that someone was working to preserve all the history of 1968 in Washington.

"Without people like her and the forethought of what people like her are doing with this project, there will be a loss of much of that history," he said.

If you have a memory you would like to share, you can learn how to contribute it to the project by clicking here.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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