Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion was filled with music from live performances and the smell of delicious food Saturday, Sept. 4, for the first ever “Day In Day Out Festival,” a small-scale music festival organized by Daydream State, which is also known for organizing the annual “Capitol Hill Block Party.” Guests were required to bring their vaccination card or negative COVID-19 tests to enter the venue.
The limited crowd slowly trickled into the venue around 3 p.m. and consisted largely of young people from the Seattle area. A blow to the event was the absence of two notable artists. Portland rapper Aminé had to cancel his performance after testing positive for COVID-19, while Seattle’s Parisalexa also pulled out of the line-up due to a non-COVID-19 illness. Local singer and rapper LIVt replaced Parisalexa’s slot. Local rapper Sol replaced Aminé’s performance for the day.
Food vendors like the South End’s The Original Philly’s and Central District’s The Fish Box fed hungry music fans into the evening. Headliners Travis Thompson, a Burien rapper, and Haitian-Canadian record producer DJ Kaytranada both drew enthusiastic crowds.
The 2021 Umoja Fest Day of Unity parade and festival drew hundreds of people to Jimi Hendrix Park on Aug. 7 for a day of celebrating Black entrepreneurship, music, and art. For more than 50 years Seattle’s Black community has held a summer festival. Starting in 1952, it was called the East Madison Mardi Gras, later transforming into the Pacific Northwest Black Community Festival, and in 1997 it became the Umoja Fest African Heritage Festival.
This year’s event featured a Black Unity march from 23rd Avenue and East Union Street to Jimi Hendrix Park; a children’s village; and dozens of music and dance performances by artists like Zach Bruce, April Shantae, Johnny Grant, Kutt ’N’ Up, and Skye Dior. Vendors sold food, beverages, art, household items, and clothing. Local nonprofits such as the Harriet Tubman Center for Health and Freedom, the African Americans Reach and Teach Health Ministry (AARTH), Feed the People, and the A. Philip Randolph Institute had booths to spread the word about their organization’s missions in the community.
Wyking Garrett, the president and CEO of Africatown Community Land Trust, grew up in the Central District and remembers the Black community festivals through the years and how important they were. He spoke to the crowd this year about celebrating Black love: “What I need us to really do is change the vibration; we got to change the frequency we have to tune in and unify with Black love in our community,” he said. “Tupac said Thug Life stood for ‘the hate u give little infants f***s everybody.’ The opposite of that is, if we give the love to our children properly, we got to put our families back together because that’s where it starts. Then we put our communities, which is just a family of families, and then we put the love back in it, that’s what I want to focus on.”
About a half dozen barbers volunteered their services last weekend so people could get free haircuts at Rainier Beach Community Center plaza. In addition to the cuts, there was food, entertainment, and free COVID-19 vaccines. The event was held in partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods and hosted by Fathers and Sons Together (FAST) — a youth development organization that aims to nurture the relationships between fathers and sons. It also featured three panel discussions around significant issues affecting the community, including one on health and wellness — in particular how they relate to COVID-19 — one on the recent surge in gun violence, and a third to discuss ways to help youth and create positive change in the community.
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On Saturday, July 31, BAYAN Seattle and Malaya Movement coordinated a rally and carnival to launch the Duterte Wakasan Na Movement, which seeks the resignation of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for human rights violations in the country. Human Rights Watch reports that extrajudicial killings in the country — often committed under the guise of a “war on drugs” — have increased dramatically during the pandemic.
The weekend event also included several bouncy houses for kids, food and games, and local performances from artists as well as group dancing. Several notable speakers in attendance included Miss Washington Maricres Castro and Washington State Sen. Rebecca Saldaña. Both expressed support for local community organizers.
“Under current President Duterte, the unjust system in the Philippines participates in suppressing dissent both by weaponizing the law to facilitate human rights abuses and by failing to enforce legal protections,” said Saldaña, who has served as a sub commissioner on Investigate PH — an organization currently conducting independent investigations of human rights violation in the country.
Last April, the Emerald published a photo essay that documented protests at Seafood City in Tukwila from the same organizations that led Saturday’s event at Othello Park.
Last Saturday, July 24, saw dozens of New Hope Missionary Baptist parishioners join community members and other supporters at the Rally for African American Reparations: Return the Land and Resources to Our Black and Brown People.
Local faith and community leaders took turns speaking about the land near New Hope Missionary Baptist Church that was taken 50 years ago by the City of Seattle under the guise of “urban renewal.”
The rally was held to demand the City give possession of the land to the church and the community so affordable housing can be built, making it possible for some members in the Black community to return to the Central District.
The Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) and the City of Seattle collaborated to host a celebration of local culture and food at Hing Park on Saturday, July 17, and Sunday, July 18. The weekend was also the inaugural event of “Welcome Back Weeks,” which was organized by the City of Seattle with the goal of bringing small businesses, workers, and visitors back to the downtown area after nearly a year and a half of restrictions. As part of “Welcome Back Weeks,” over $300,000 has been invested into small businesses, artists, and nonprofits , which all have experienced significant hardship during the pandemic.
The two-day event featured live music and performances from local artists from the community, which attracted sizable crowds. The event also offered attendees the opportunity to receive either a Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which was administered by representatives from the Seattle Fire Department (SFD). The CIDBIA will be hosting another Summer CID Food Walk from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 31. Events such as this have been planned to spur more community support for locally owned restaurants and businesses that are rebounding from the economic impacts of the pandemic.
This Saturday, July 24, “Welcome Back Weeks” will continue with an event starting at 10:30 a.m. at Pioneer Square, which will be followed up the next day at Westlake starting at 11 a.m. For more information about “Welcome Back Weeks,” visit the Office of the Mayor’s “Seattle’s Equitable Recovery” webpage.
The Fourth of July weekend was also the first official weekend that King County dropped all COVID-19 restrictions, and many people in South Seattle were excited to finally go to their favorite places, sit down across from friends and family, and take their masks off (as long as they’d been vaccinated).
Individual businesses could ask customers to wear masks, but many allowed those who had been vaccinated to go mask free, trusting them to be honest about whether they’d been vaccinated or not. Some businesses chose to ask patrons to continue wearing masks while others opted to not fully open.
For many South End residents, things almost felt like they were back to a pre-pandemic normal.
The smoldering heat did not deter Dragon Fest Food Walk attendees from visiting a variety of Asian restaurants on Saturday, June 26, in Chinatown-International District. The event featured Asian cuisine deals ranging from $2 to $8, and lasted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Previous Dragon Fest events have featured restaurants with food stands and merchants lined alongside South King Street, but this year a food walk was deemed more reasonable due to COVID-19 and the heat by the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA), who organized the event. CIDBIA is planning several more food walks throughout the summer in the neighborhood to spur more community support for locally owned restaurants that are rebounding from the devastating economic impacts of the pandemic.
Like many organizations, Tilth Alliance had to move to virtual classes and workshops when the pandemic hit last year. Now that vaccination rates are high and climbing, the local food and urban farming nonprofit is offering several in-person classes — but that doesn’t mean the online classes are going away. And these classes could attract more people than in previous years.
“We usually see a little dip in summer classes compared to spring, but it could be different this year, because so many people are interested and have been interested in growing [their] own food and learning more about how to cook, how to get closer to what they eat and to their food source,” Director of Outreach Sheryl Wiser said. “So we don’t really see this slacking off anytime soon.”