Thousands celebrate Día de Los Muertos in DC (includes video story)

On Saturday, the streets of D.C. were filled with passion and culture as thousands gathered to celebrate the Day of the Dead. 

Día de Los Muertos, the Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2, has had to share the date since 2020 with another holiday created by former President Trump: National Day of Remembrance for Americans Killed By Illegal Immigrants. 

Día De Los Muertos DC, the group hosting the festival, is working to overwrite the stigmas this has created for the Mexican community and reclaim the ancestral holiday in the U.S. The group has a petition to get Día de Los Muertos nationally recognized as a holiday. 

The event featured a cross-cultural altar, calavera (skull) face painting, live performances and various well-being workshops. 

That same day, National Mall was packed with Palestinian flags and people protesting for a ceasefire. The Día de Los Muertos event started at Franklin Park but joined protesters in a parade-like procession.

“Fundamentally, we’re on the Mall in solidarity with other justice movements, but we’ve been here for five years straight,” said Roman Haferd, a board member for Día De Los Muertos DC. “And the main purpose is to [make] Días De Los Muertos into an accessible holiday and also an accessible experience. ”

Día De Los Muertos D.C. partners with the mayor’s office for Latino affairs to present a benefit festival to raise funds to help reunite children who have been separated from their families at the border, advocate for unaccompanied minors crossing the border and provide support for children of marginalized communities abroad. 

“We’re a nonprofit fundraiser for two nonprofits, the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, which is an organization that is based here in the U.S.,” said Ary Mondragon, the co-founder of Día De Los Muertos. “They take care and they help guard the lives and integrity of all minors crossing the border.”  

Mondragon also talked about De Mi Corazon a tu Corazón , a nonprofit in Mexico that “take[s] care of all marginalized communities that have been abandoned by the government.” 

Children make up almost half of the world’s refugees, according to UNICEF, and Mondragon is dedicated to protecting the children’s future.

“If we don’t take care of them, we’re not going to have a future,” Mondragon said. Nobody’s going to tell our stories.”

Hawah Ezell is a senior digital broadcasting student with a concentration in criminal justice. She is passionate about social justice and human rights. She plans on pursuing a career in multi-media journalism where she intends to give a voice to the voiceless.