Original article posted from EAST CAPITOL NEIGHBORS
It took an online chance connection for Ebbon and Giselle Allen to build an eight-year-long relationship.
“We chatted on the phone for quite some time before meeting in person. We discovered that we had been going to the same church for several years and never knew each other. It was incredible to discover that my wife was literally right in front of my face before I met her officially,” Ebbon explained.
In 2017, Ebbon and Giselle were married at their church home, Zion Church in Landover, Md., a year and a half after their chance meeting. Their ceremony was small and private, but their reception later was larger and included their family and friends at the home of Giselle’s family members. “
My best memory is when we spent our first Valentine’s Day together. Giselle treated me to dinner and to a play. Basically, we spent every moment together that weekend and have never looked back since,” Ebbon reflected.
Ebbon, Giselle and their three children — five-year-old Cruz Allen, four-year-old Kingston Allen and 23-month- old Kreston Allen — live in Ward 7’s Marshall Heights. The children all attend D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School, where they are instructed in both English and Spanish.
“Bilingualism is important in our household because of my wife’s nationality. As Afro-Latinos, our boys love Miles
Morales, the coolest Spiderman ever, who happens to also be Afro-Latino,” Ebbon said.
In addition to his in-class learning, Cruz has participated in several extracurricular activities. He has tried ice skating with the Fort Dupont Skating program, and he has played football with the Ward 7 Blue Bulls and the Marshall Heights
Bison. Kingston also played with the Bison.
Ebbon and Giselle also bonded through their connection with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Majoring in English, Ebbon attended Morehouse College. Giselle is a graduate of Hampton University. Both started their careers as teachers.
“We are an HBCU family that is rooted in education,” Ebbon stated. “I taught in several D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and Prince George’s County Public Schools, while Giselle taught for 16 years before becoming a principal.” After nine years of teaching, Ebbon transitioned to Academic Coordinator at Howard University’s Upward Bound Math and Science Program and served in that position for 10 years. After leaving Howard, Ebbon returned to the classroom and continued his community
work. In the meantime, Gisele completed her psychology degree at Hampton University before attending Trinity
Washington University, where she obtained her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and M.S.A. in Educational
Leadership. She is currently the Assistant Principal at D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School.
The Allen family demonstrates their motto — “Respect Others, Love One Another and Put God First — through their commitment in the community. As a former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC), Ebbon leads by example. “I initiated Public Safety Day with ANC 7E. I strongly support the organization, Men Giving Back, that host events such as the Annual Father’s Day Cookout and the Annual Turkey Giveaway. I also co-founded an AAU Organization, the DMV Running Rebels, where I coached
young boys in the community. I’ve also hosted Toy Drives for the last several years. These are just a few ways I’ve
served my community. Giving back to help others is important for us,” Ebbon noted. As an English teacher, combating illiteracy has always been an important issue for Ebbon. He rallied support from co-workers and others in the community, and initiated a program to help young children learn and appreciate reading.
“I started the Black Kings That Read Literacy Initiative at C.W. Harris Elementary School. I invited Black men in the community to read to first graders and share their personal stories of success and triumph. I had more than 30 men participate in this reading program,” Ebbon pointed out. Finding ways to have fun and combine his service with his appreciation for his alma mater is also important to Ebbon.
“I enjoy high school basketball and coordinating community activities such as my Toy Drives and hosting Morehouse College Day with DCPS. In my down time, I follow the local teams —Washington Commanders and Georgetown Hoyas — and also the Phoenix Suns,” Ebbon said.
The Allen family also finds time to enjoy each other and plan for future travels. Gisele is Afro-Latina. Her parents are Panamanian and she was born in Mexico. Although she was raised in Baltimore, Md., returning to her family roots is important to the Allens now. They are a multi- ethnic family; a blend of two cultures and they want to instill that in their children.
“We loved our trip to Great Wolf Lodge. We have taken several road trips to visit family on the East Coast. All three boys have already traveled by air. And the next trip is hopefully to Panamá so the boys and I can see Giselle’s family’s home country,” Ebbon said.
While traveling is important to the Allens so is finding roots at home. They moved to Marshall Heights in 2017 and bought their home there four years ago. It was an important decision to settle there, especially for Ebbon.
“I love my community! After college, I wanted to return to the community where I grew up just a block away from where I live now. We are raising our sons minutes away from where their paternal grandmother was
raised. I am enjoying our neighbors as well. We moved in around the same time and have developed a nice little close-knit community for ourselves,” Ebbon asserted.
The rich history of Marshall Heights, current renovations and plans for the future have assured the Allens that they have settled in the right spot.
“I am optimistic about the new development, Fletcher Johnson at the Park coming to Marshall Heights, and I love the newly renovated Woody Ward Recreational Center. Our kids enjoy going to the newly renovated Capitol View Library,” Ebbon highlighted.
Ebbon encourages the Marshall Heights community to stick together.
“Marshall Heights has a lot of history. We can continue to make history together. This place has so much untapped potential. Let’s work together to preserve what is unique about our community,” stressed Ebbon.