With many lawmakers back in their districts for the summer, a new, young group of leaders and change-makers took to the nation’s capital for the weekend. For their third session, the St. Louis cohort of Aspen Young Leaders Fellows (AYLF) made their way to Washington, DC.
Going straight to the source, Fellows spent Thursday morning on Capitol Hill. They visited Missouri state Senator, Claire McCaskill’s office before touring the US Supreme Court and Capitol. Back at the National 4H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, MD, Fellows spent Thursday evening unpacking what they learned on the Hill and presidental speeches including John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, Ronald Reagan’s address on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Address to Congress Requesting a Declaration of War, and George W. Bush’s Address on the US Response to the Attacks of September 11.
Before spending all day Friday conducting empathy interviews in historic DC neighborhoods, Fellows learned about the cultures and characteristics that make DC from local historians Desa Sealy, Jane Levey, and Marta Palacios.
Beginning in Anacostia, Fellows spent time listening to residents’ stories of challenge and change, triumph and tradition in their neighborhood. From Anacostia, the group explored portions of the African American Heritage Trail, making the quarter mile walk to the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site before taking the DC Metro to the Columbia Heights then Tenleytown neighborhoods for more empathy interviews with DC residents.
Saturday was president’s day AYLF style. In teams of four and five, Fellows engaged in friendly, but spirited, competition over a scavenger hunt on the National Mall. They explored the Washington Monument; the Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and World War II Memorials; the Watergate Hotel; and John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for clues to questions of historical significance spanning our nation’s history.
Fellows also spent time unpacking presidential speeches including George Washington’s Farewell Address, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg and Second Inaugural addresses, Richard Nixon’s “Checkers,” John F. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner,” Ronald Reagan’s Address from the Brandenburg Gate (Berlin Wall), and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Speech Before Congress on Voting Rights at each stop along the Mall.
The Newark cohort of Aspen Young Leaders Fellows will visit the nation’s capital the last weekend in August, and the St. Louis cohort will reconvene for their fourth session October 13 through 15 back in St. Louis.
Keep up with all things AYLF on aspeninstitute.org/youth.