BASE heads to Oakland to celebrate Black joy

Photo from last year’s Black Joy Parade. PHOTO COURTESY OF FELIX URIBE

To close out Black History Month, Black art and culture will be showcased at “Celebrating Black Joy: Oakland Edition” next Sunday.

USF’s Black Achievement Success and Engagement (BASE) Initiative is hosting the event, and Black faculty, staff, and students can join them in Oakland on Feb. 26. LaShirine Howard, the BASE program manager who helped organize the event, said that BASE organizes events that involve students with Black communities in the Bay, “so that students are able to find connections and community outside of USF.” 

“Everyone’s pulling together to make this happen, and I love the fact that we’re ignoring the excuse that we’re separated by a bridge,” said Howard. “Oakland is a big part of the Black community too.” 

The event’s first location will be the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), where participants can view its current exhibition, “Angela Davis — Seize the Time.” The goal of the exhibit, according to the museum’s website, is to provide visitors with a “deeper look into the life of Angela Davis through the lens of race, gender, economics, and policy.” Davis, 79, was an active member of the Black Panther Party, an Oakland-born political organization which fought for Black liberation, particularly by protecting against police brutality. Howard said, “I hope that every student that goes sees a huge amount of relatability.” 

After participants see what OMCA has to offer, the group will walk to 14th and Franklin to see the Black Joy Parade at 12:30 p.m. The parade is part of a larger festival with over 200 Black owned vendors selling food and drink, merchandise, and handmade items. The Black Joy Choir, made up of Bay Area singers, will perform on the main stage and during the parade procession. 

The Black Joy Parade is put on by a nonprofit of the same name, and is going on its sixth year. Howard said, “I’ve been told it’s like a First Friday but on steroids.” First Fridays is a recurring Oakland event that Howard described as a “huge block party.”

This year’s Black Joy Parade is just a warm up for BASE. Howard said, “Hopefully next year we can see if we can even be in the parade.”

When asked what she hopes everyone will take away from the event, Howard said, “Your Blackness is welcomed here, in every shape and form.”

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