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Lois Athey interview part 2, 2020-08-18

Identifier: dcpl_dcohc027_03_2.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: 2020-08-18


Biographical / Historical

Born in 1943 Washington D.C., Lois Athey grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from Smith College and received her PhD from Columbia University. She lived in Chile for many years and moved back to the Washington, D.C. area in 1974. In 1981 she moved to the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood in Washington, D.C.. From 1988 through 1990 she was a volunteer with the Latin American Festival. She organized the food booths for all three Festivals, and was a member of the Festival team that negotiated permits with the National Park Service for the Washington Monument grounds when the Latino Festival – Fiesta D.C. – went downtown to the Mall in 1989. She has worked with several national nonprofits advocating for low-income housing programs. She has also organized and led Latino tenant groups in Arlington, Virginia. She has written a high school textbook on Latin America and researched access to low-income housing for Latino residents in Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Virginia.


From the Collection: 855 Gigabytes

Language of Materials



Lois Athey tells the story of the Latin American Festival in the years 1988 - 1990. As a volunteer during those years, Athey organized the food booths and helped the volunteer Festival Committee secure their 501c3 status after the 1988 Festival. When the Festival President Arturo Griffiths moved the Festival to the Washington Monument grounds in 1989, Athey helped the team negotiate permits for the use of the Mall. She describes the problems and issues that the Festival faced during those years. The 1989 Festival was the first time Mom and Pop Latino immigrant families had permits to sell home - cooked food on the Mall grounds. Athey describes how volunteers — all immigrants -- from 23+ countries from Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean, worked to produce a Parade of Nations along Constitution Avenue. She also describes the Festival’s success in bringing Ruben Blades, an internationally known cross - over salsa singer, to perform at the Sylvan Theater during the 1990 Latino Festival.

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