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Arturo Griffiths interview, 2020-07-28

Identifier: dcpl_dcohc027_02.wav

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

D.C. Oral History Collaborative (DCOHC) is a citywide initiative to train community members in oral history skills, fund new and ongoing oral history projects, connect volunteers with oral history projects, and publicize existing oral history collections. DCOHC is a project of DC Public Library, HumanitiesDC, and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. This collection contains oral history interviews, transcripts, and indexes produced by DCOHC grantees.


  • Creation: 2020-07-28


Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

Born in 1949 Panama City, Panama, Arturo immigrated with his family to Washington D.C. in 1964. He graduated from Mackin High School. As a teenager, he was one of the founders of the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC). The LAYC youth founded the first Youth day- Saturday- at the early D.C. Latino Festivals when they were in Kalorama Park. Griffiths was involved in many of the Festivals from 1970 to 1987. In 1987 he was elected President of the Latino Festival and organized three Festivals: 1988, 1989, 1990. In 1989 he took the D.C. Latino Festival – Fiesta D.C. – to the Mall. Griffiths has worked for several labor unions. With his sister, Yasmin Garabito, he founded the Afro-Latino Institute. He ran twice for D.C. City Council and was D.C. Coordinator for the Safe Our Cities! Save Our Children! March. In 1992 he planned and coordinated the Citywide Multicultural Leadership Summit. In 2014 he founded Trabajadores Unidos de Washington D.C., a community-based nonprofit that advocates for and educates D.C. immigrant day laborers and low-wage workers.


From the Collection: 1.13 Terabytes


Arturo Griffiths tells the story of how he got involved as a Latino immigrant teenager in the very first D.C. Latino Festivals held in Adams Morgan. He tells the story of various presidents, many of whom were elected before he was elected President in 1987. Griffiths, together with his committee, organized the last D.C. Latino Festival to b e held in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. In 1989 Griffiths took the Festival “downtown” – to the grounds of the Washington Monument. He tells the story of how hard it was to secure permits, convince authorities to allow the Festival to serve and sell homemade ethnic food on the Monument grounds. Negotiating with D.C. government officials, the National Park Service and community leaders took many months. Griffiths stresses the important role that the Parade groups had supporting the move to Constitution Avenue NW and their energy and commitment in organizing their floats and dance groups. Griffiths reflects on the importance of ethnic Festivals, and in particular the importance of the Latino community and its contributions to mainstream culture. Griffiths stressed the importance of educating the public about the different Latino cultures, racial backgrounds, and histories.

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001