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Statement on the Passing of Peggy Cooper Cafritz

Monday, February 19, 2018

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH) extends its condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Peggy Cooper Cafritz, who passed away February 18, 2018 at age 70.

Among her many contributions to the arts and education in the District, Ms. Cooper Cafritz co-founded the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in 1974 and was chair of the CAH board of commissioners from 1979 to 1987. During her tenure as chair, several CAH programs were established that continue to be active today, including the DC Creates! public art program, the Larry Neal Writers Awards and the Mayor’s Arts Awards.

“We at the Commission on the Arts and Humanities mourn the loss of one of our own, who demonstrated so clearly the power and need for the arts and education in our daily lives,” said CAH Chair Kay Kendall.

“Peggy was an impressive figure who helped to grow and shape our city’s artistic and educational landscape,” said CAH Executive Director Arthur Espinoza, Jr. “We are grateful to her service to the Commission and our city’s arts and humanities communities.”

Ms. Cooper Cafritz attended The George Washington University where she earned an undergraduate degree in political science in 1968 and a law degree in 1971. She was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as vice chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 1993, and was elected president of the District of Columbia School Board in 2000. In 2015, Ms. Cooper Cafritz received the Mayor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, recognizing her contributions to arts and culture in the District of Columbia.