Friday, September 2, 2011

Peter Bug, Fellow Sociologist in Ward 6

John "Peter Bug" Matthews is a fifth generation DC resident, an alumnus of Tyler Elementary School, and a great community organizer, founding the Peter Bug Shoe Repair Academy at E and 13th St SE (right near Safeway) and committing himself early on to helping DC youth. You'll learn a lot from the interview of Mr. Matthews done by Destiny-Pride. Here are some items particularly relevant to this blog:
  • Mr. Matthews has a degree in sociology and anthropology from Federal City College, which opened its doors in 1968 and later became part of UDC.
  • Mr. Matthews worked alongside his college friend Carroll "Skeezie" Payne helping kids at Potomac Gardens and at Tyler. As part of the Roving Leaders Program, they sought to engage at-risk youth in constructive activities. This 1989 Post article talks about Potomac Gardens children spending "large chunks of their time visiting with Carroll (Skeezie) Payne, a city housing worker who has become an ex-officio grandfather to many of the youngsters in the project." Mr. Matthews did a lot of work organizing residents of Potomac Gardens, Arthur Capper, and other public housing in Ward 6.
  • Mr. Matthews nearly founded a shoe manufacturing company for Timberland in the area, which only required matching funds that the DC government failed to provide. The failure of this project "was one of the tragedies of the dream that we thought we were going to fulfill."
  • When asked what relaxes him, Mr Matthews said,
You know what really relaxes me? When I can see people having fun. Folks ask, “Man, why do you do all of this [referring to his annual Peter Bug Day]?” I say, because I want to hear folks say, “Man, we had a good time.” I need people. I need to be around people. I can’t stand to be by myself because I might drive my car off a bridge [laughter]. I’ve got to have some people around me. Just to make people feel happy and be proud of themselves – that relaxes me.
Save the Date: Peter Bug Day is the third Saturday in May.

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