A seven-day African American and Pan-African celebration starting on Dec. 26, Kwanzaa — created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga — was developed as a way to connect, commemorate, and honor community and culture by focusing on Nguzo Saba, or the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. These principles are rooted in traditions of first fruits or harvest celebrations that are found throughout Africa. Even the name of the celebration is taken from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, or “first fruits.”
Over seven hundred people bought tickets for Wa Na Wari’s inaugural “Walk the Block”fundraising event on Saturday, Oct. 16. Attendees were treated to a feast of visual art, music, dance, food, and drinks.
On Saturday, Oct. 16, from 3 to 6 p.m., Wa Na Wari will be holding its annual fall fundraiser event in a brand new way. Tomorrow, “Walk the Block” will be a pop-up Central District art walk of art installations, dance and musical performance, video, and food. The outdoor festival will showcase and celebrate the work of Black artists working in a multitude of mediums across a 0.8 mile stretch starting at Wa Na Wari and including neighborhood spaces like parks, gardens, and Black-owned homes and businesses. There will be food and drinks available for purchase, live DJs, and even “artbrellas” — umbrellas featuring work from artists Zahyr Lauren and Jazz Brown.
Community is at the center of Wa Na Wari’s ethos. Specifically, the vitality and presence of Black art and creativity in the historically redlined Central District which, according to Wa Na Wari’s website, has seen a reduction of its Black population from 80% in 1970 to less than 10% today due to multiple waves of gentrification. Located in a fifth-generation Black-owned home, the space itself is stewarded by one of the four founding artists, Inye Wokoma, the grandson of Frank and Goldyne Green, who purchased the house in 1951. Despite the ongoing neighborhood displacement, Wa Na Wari and the people behind it are committed to decentering the narrative of erasure that often gets tied into discussions of gentrification.
“Showing the stories of people that made this neighborhood so great, are still making this neighborhood so great, is really important,” said Elisheba Johnson, Wa Na Wari’s curator and a co-founding artist, about Saturday’s “Walk the Block” event.
As we transition into fall, the BLOOM Giving Garden at Wa Na Wari is beginning to wrap up the season. The BIPOC-youth-run garden began as a response to COVID-19 and has continued to grow and expand in its second summer.
The garden is a collaboration between Wa Na Wari, Seattle Public Library (SPL), YES Farm, The Black Farmers Collective, and EarthCorps. The project aims to educate and uplift BIPOC youth by fostering food sovereignty and honoring sacred land and Indigenous practices whilst building community. Eight fellows have been selected to run the garden through their involvement with farm-related programs.
C. Davida Ingram, a Wa Na Wari partner and SPL public engagement employee, teamed up with Hannah Wilson from YES Farms and came to Wa Na Wari with the idea for a garden.
“Our goal is to look at the environment that Communities of Color look in, live in, and to look at it through the lens of creativity,” Ingram said. “At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a spotlight on economics. People were losing their housing and also people were running out of food. And because Seattle is such an incredible space for conversations around food justice and food sovereignty, we reached out to Wa Na Wari and said, ‘Would you be interested in creating a space where people could learn about food sovereignty and also would you be open to creating space for community gardening?’ And they said ‘yes.’”
The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.
We also post the Morning Update Show here on theEmerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.
Morning Update Show — Thursday, August 12
Live from Liberty Bank Building | LIVE — Elisheba Johnson of Wa Na Wari | LIVE — Stephanie Morales of The Liink Project | LIVE — Edimbo Lekea Artist | Community Building Through Art
by Susan Fried, Ronnie Estoque, and Maile Anderson
From marching, dance, and roller skating, to meditation, music, and a restaurant homecoming, South Seattle marked the first federally recognized Juneteenth 2021 with beautiful spirit and joy. Emerald photographers hit the streets on Saturday to capture some of the many happenings around the South End. Among them: In the morning, “No Healing, No Peace!” A Walking Meditation for Black Liberation was held at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park and Jackson’s Catfish Corner celebrated their grand opening and return to the Central District. In the afternoon, It Takes a Village Juneteenth Festival took place in Othello Park while KCEN’s annual Juneteenth Freedom Celebration marched from 22nd Avenue and Madison Street to Jimi Hendrix Park. Black Girls Roller Skate hosted a Juneteenth roller skating party at Judkins Park and, in the evening, Wa Na Wari wrapped up the day at their Juneteenth Outdoor Celebration with live music.
How do we sense at this time? With the onslaught of violence against Asian American and Asian Diasporic people, the horrifyingly regular state-sanctioned murders of Black and Brown people (including CHILDREN), and general harm towards those who our society minoritizes, I’ve been feeling numb and guilty in my inability to sense, as well as to post, donate, fight, and make sense of what’s going on. How do we sense well at this time?
In Lisa Myers Bulmash’s home, a new item commemorates her contest winner status — a cerulean pageant sash. The phrase “Miss Thang 2021” is written across it, and a rhinestone-encrusted safety pin ensures it stays in place. Bulmash can’t help but laugh when she talks about her husband’s playful gift.
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
Seattle Black Spatial Histories Institute Pilot Program — Now Accepting Applications!
Application Deadline: March 31
From the source: Wa Na Wari and the Shelf Life Community Story Project are launching the Seattle Black Spatial Histories Institute, a pilot oral history/community story training program.
In 2021, a six-person cohort will explore the ethics, techniques, best practices, tensions, and dilemmas of oral history. The cohort will then practice their new skills by conducting oral history interviews with local community members around three topics. Upon completion of the Institute, cohort members will receive compensation of $4,000 and a certificate of completion.
Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.
One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather waking up every morning before the sun came up. I was born in 1969 and in my early years, before my mother married my father, we lived with my grandparents. By the time I was maybe 4 or 5, my grandfather had retired. He had served in World War II in the motor pool in the South Pacific, and then, when he came to Seattle, he got a job at the Naval shipyards down on the piers here in the sound, later working with the transportation department until his retirement in the early ’70s. He came from a family of tenant farmers who migrated to the Northwest from the South who were used to working on the land. Their work ethic never left him.