City officials dropped their dignity to vie with each other in a rollicking gong show put on recently by Ward 1 residents to raise funds for lobbying efforts on behalf of the District of Columbia voting rights amendment.
Song and dance routines by Mayor Marion Barry, Rep. Walter E. Faunntroy, D.C. City Council President Arrington Dixon and Councilman Jerry A. Moore (D-At Large) drew delighted shouts from about 150 persons who paid up to $5 admission each.
The show was the first ward-based event held to raise money for the lobbying efforts of the D.C. Voting Rights Service Corp., according to organizers.
Lobbying "can't be carried on just by elected officials," said Peter Schott, Ward 1 resident and gong show organizer. "It's got to be an effort by the community . . . It takes money to lobby and somebody's got to raise those funds."
The proposed constitutional amendment, which would give District reisdents full voting representation in Congress, has been ratified by six states. However, 38 states must ratify it by 1984 before it would take effect.
Judges for the show, which was paterned after the television Gong Show, included Councilman John Ray(D-At Large) and community workers Eudora Webster and Elona McNeil.
Two council members, David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1) and Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), arrived to discover they were expected to perform.
"There's been some kind of confusion," said Clarke, looking around uncomfortably. "I was asked to be here, but I did't know I was supposed to do an act.
"But I'm very much in support of the amendment," he added hastily. I'll do whatever I'm asked to do." Clarke and Jarvis joined the judges.
The Rev. Cleat E. Mock, pastor of the Pearly Gate Baptist Church, 3604 14th St. NW, revved up the crowd and introduced the acts. Discomusic and giddy enthusiasm characterized most of the evening.
ArringtonDixon executed a 1960s twist with good humor, dancing with partner Danielle Lindsey, 10. He earned 22 points out of a possible 40, half of them "for being here on time," according to one of the judges.
Dixon, Barry and Fauntroy form the board of the D.C. Voting Rights Service Corp., which will spearhead efforts to get the amendment passed by state legislatures.
Wearing blue terrycloth outfits, six teen-aged girls from a 14th Street community center billed themselves as the One and Only Ratification Cheerleaders. With an intricate stamp-clap routine, they spelled out V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.
Fauntroy raced up to the stage to sing a ballad about the deaths Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. His smooth, practiced style and infectious smile soon had the crowd clapping in rhythm as he finished, "We've got to carry on, we've got to carry on . . ." He was awarded 38 points.
After intermission, Barry wowed the delighted crowd with a disco dance called the Rock, pressing into service a Ward 2 resident, Pat Jones Hillman. Soon Marlene Fenwick, wearing a deeply slit skirt, joined them, but the performance won only 35 points.
Others acts included a demonstration of martial arts by members of Jow Ga King Fu, 740 6th St. NW, more cheers by cheerleaders from the Kelly Miller Community Center, 233 V. St. NW, a baritone rendition of "Water Boy," by Councilman Moore, and a stand-up comedy routine by D. Richard Artis, director of the Office on Aging.
A trophy for the top performance, though tied with Fauntroy, went to Lee Brown, 5312 4th St. NW, who recited a poem, "Mother Black." Brown, a researcher for Transcentury Corp., is a part-time poet who worked for Barry when the mayor directed Pride, Inc. CAPTION: Picture, Mayor Marion Barry does the rock with Pat Jones Hillman. By Vanessa Barnes - The Washington Post