Oakland’s Black Joy Parade returns this weekend  

Sunday's parade, headlined by Ashanti, is set to feature performances by dance troupes, musicians and spoken word artists.

The free, family-friendly Black Joy Parade in Oakland, California, will return after a year of being virtual. The parade, set to proceed through downtown with performances by dance troupes, musicians and spoken word artists, will be headlined by Grammy Award-winning singer Ashanti

“We are so excited to host The Black Joy Parade in person again,” Elisha Greenwell, the founder of Black Joy Parade, told The Mercury News. “We can’t wait for the community to see what we have created to celebrate us. It’s going to feel like the largest family reunion ever.”

Ashanti performs onstage during the Times Square New Year’s Eve 2022 Celebration on Dec. 31, 2021. The singer is scheduled to dazzle attendees at the Black Joy Parade in Oakland this weekend. (Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

The Black Joy Parade was established in 2018 as a way to celebrate Black art and Black organizations in the Bay Area. The last time it was held was February 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in stay-at-home orders and restrictions. 

In 2021, the parade streamed performances by dancers and other performers and partnered with Black-owned businesses to showcase them during the pandemic. According to the report, one art collective — the Artist Lift Off initiative — was commissioned to digitally recreate their work on posters, bags and other merchandise.

The parade also engaged Black artists, creating an art installation that was shown in storefronts across the city. 

Three Oakland restaurants will host “Black Joy Brunches” on Saturday, where alaMar Kitchen, Kingston 11 and Oeste meals will serve as tasty prequels to the main event, which starts Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Organizers are expecting between 20,000 and 30,000 people to attend. 

While there is no longer a mask mandate in Alameda County, its health department is advising that unvaccinated and not-fully-vaccinated people “wear a mask in outdoor crowded settings … when you are around people who may be unvaccinated, elderly, or immunocompromised. To protect everyone, wear a mask to help slow the spread of the virus.”

In addition to the parade, there will be a children’s “zone,” a gaming area where people can play spades, dominoes and chess, plus several lounge areas.

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