In the summer of 1995, the Kenyan and Princess McDuffie first met at a barbecue in the house where they now raise their family.
The couple remember when the other caught their eye.
“I saw him, and he was wearing, or half-wearing, his postman’s uniform, and he came up the stairs. I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ I kind of watched him walk up the steps, and I guess it all started from there,” Princess explains.
The Kenyan came home after work for a typical summer barbecue held in his parents’ garden. Kenyan’s sister invited Princess, her high school classmate Benjamin Banneker, to join.
Kenyan’s friend recorded the reunion of family and friends with an old fashioned pocket camcorder.
“[My friend] had the camera on, and I looked into the camera. Then Princess came up behind me and walked past me outside. And I looked at the camera and said, ‘I’m going to get her before the night is out,’” Kenyan says.
Before the end of the night filled with go-go music and soul food, Kenyan did just that.
The following year, the Kenyan wooed the princess at the prom. The couple attended long distance while Princess attended Indiana University in Pennsylvania and Kenyan attended the University of Maryland School of Law.
There were times when Princess knew Kenya was an important part of her life.
In 2001, one of the planes that was hijacked during the September 11 attack crashed in a nearby town in Pennsylvania, but was intended to target Washington, DC.
“I was in graduate school. The second plane that hit, [crashed] not too far from my school. … The only thing I could think of other than my family was going back to Kenya. …Taking this drive [and] just knowing that when I got there he was my safety net,” Princess says.
Princess says another reason she fell in love with Kenyan is that he is dedicated, caring, kind, cares about the community and shared a childhood and upbringing similar to that of a Washington native.
The Kenyan says Princess was the only one because she is smart, driven, focused and thoughtful about her future.
In 2005, the two got married.
Now the couple are raising their two daughters, ages 12 and 15, in the same North East home where they met, which the McDuffie family has passed down through three generations since 1952.
The Kenyan, apart from being a father and a husband, is currently a member of Ward 5 Council and a candidate for DC Attorney General.
In 2010, McDuffie first campaigned to become a council member. McDuffie lost the 2010 general election to Harry Thomas Jr. But two years later, Thomas plead guilty to two federal crimes – theft and filing of false tax returns. In 2012, McDuffie won 45% of the vote in the special election for the Ward 5 seat against 10 other candidates.
“I couldn’t have done this without the support of Princess,” he says.
“His first race in 2010, we had a three-year-old and a three-month-old, so you can imagine,” says Princess. “And let’s not forget that he also worked for the federal government, so he had to resign from his position. So [we were a] young, new family, and we were all in on it,” says Princess.
At the time, the couple managed to get by on just one income. Princess has worked with perpetrators of domestic violence for most of her career.
Born and raised in Congress Heights in Ward 8, Princess says she witnessed this trauma.
“In my community, people didn’t speak to each other with respect. Lots of trauma was heard in apartment hallways and outside. … For me, it was really about healing the community, making sure people have the tools they need to have healthy relationships,” she says. “[We] have to talk to the abusers, it is not enough to pour only on the survivors.
The McDuffies say the foundation of their relationship is healthy communication.
“Is it a conversation about why? Where does this come from? Is there anything we can do to fix it? said the Kenyan.
Princess says they instill the same values in their children.
“Part of it is learning healthy behavior – how to be respectful, how to be responsible, how to negotiate, like what we do with our kids…to let the kids have a little more say. [than we did growing up],” she says.
Along with passing the home on to a fourth generation of McDuffies, the couple want to “pass on some of those lessons about life, love, marriage, partnership, sacrifice, the importance of family and the strength of the bond “, explains Kenyan.
While he says that “the profession is extremely important”, he adds, “I work very hard at it, but at the end of the day, I cannot be a good member of council or a candidate for the position of attorney general, if the things are not going well with me. with my family, and so it will always be the first,” says Kenyan.