Arts and CultureSan Francisco

Oakland’s Black Joy Parade Was a Crowning Success

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By Tonya Shipp

With the end of African-American History Month closing in, Sunday was a great day for the 2nd annual Black Joy Parade and celebration in Oakland. While there was a chill in the air, it was bright and sunny! Thousands attended and cheered the short but sweet parade that lasted 38 minutes. It happily wound up 14th Street from Webster, turned right on Broadway and down to 20th Street.

2nd Annual Black Joy Parade in Oakland, Calif., February 24, 2019. Photo by Tonya Shipp

Representatives of organizations from Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and San Francisco were present, most dancing to and playing rap, jazz, reggae and rhythm and blues music. They donned sports cars, bikes with art, electronic bikes and scooters and, as the Oakland Black Cowboy Association, their horses.

It was colorful with balloons, feathers, flags, floats, stilt walkers on or carried by girls and boys and adults. The City of Oakland’s District 6 Councilmember Loren Taylor was in attendance, as was Facebook. The tech giant taped the event and encouraged their African-American employees to take part. The entire crowd tailed the end of the parade into the celebration area.

Black Joy Parade in Oakland, Calif., February 24, 2019. Photo courtesy of Mercury News

There was something to do for every age and interest; from DJs to religious group speeches; from haircuts/braiding and head wraps made of flowers to professional headshots to vendors selling jewelry, art, clothing, toiletries, books, bookbags, and food and drinks; from a Hennessey lounge to a Wakonda Forever booth; from domino tables to a soccer tournament. Nobody was missed.

The Oakland As came through and took part in the parade and later manned a large booth to give out water and granola bars. In the background were sounds of children playing and T-Pain, the day’s headliner, rapping. KMEL kept the love going with an after party for those who craved even more.

The day’s theme was “Crown Your Joy.” And joy there was, with a lot of dancing, smiling, shopping, creativity, healing and enjoying one another’s company!

The event’s website described the event:

“Black Joy Parade is a hyper-positive, family-friendly turn up that celebrates the Black experience and our community’s contribution to cultures past, present and future.”

Rochelle Westbrooks, of Sacramento, raises her arms as she dances during the Black Joy Parade in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. Photo courtesy of Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

In order to make next year even better, event organizers are happy to accept GoFundMe donations to keep the party and the joy rolling.

Until next year!

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