Oakland's Black Joy Parade honors community leaders at 'Icons Among Us' event

Zach Fuentes Image
Saturday, February 24, 2024
Oakland's Black Joy Parade honors community leaders
Black Joy Parade's Friday event called "Icons Among Us" honors community leaders who work every day to lift up their communities.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- One of Oakland's most exciting events is just around the corner and is expected to be better than ever.

The 7th annual Black Joy Parade is happening Sunday at 12:30 p.m. and ABC7 will be streaming it live from Downtown Oakland.

"People are literally singing and dancing in the streets, like where do you see that? (Only) in the movies, really," said parade co-founder Amber Lester.

Lester said the event has only continued to grow.

"Our first year, we were like, okay, it could be the 10 of us who plan this thing, or it could be thousands of people," Lester said. "We put it on Eventbrite, and in 24 hours we had 7000 people signed up on this Eventbrite, and it doubled that day. So we had like 14,000 people show up in our first year, and it has grown every single year."

WATCH LIVE SUNDAY: 2024 Black Joy Parade in Oakland

Though the parade is the centerpiece of the weekend, many meaningful events have led up to it.

This included a Friday event called "Icons Among Us," honoring community leaders who work every day to lift up their communities.

People like Jameela Hanif, whose goal is to break cycles of trauma in young people.

"To be honored in this way in my hometown is still unbelievable. I'm still processing it," she said. "But what it tells me is that people are watching. They're watching, and they're labeling me as a leader and influencer."

Shelene Huey-Booker was also recognized for her work uplifting youth through performing arts and other avenues.

PHOTOS: A look at the 2023 Black Joy Parade in Oakland

She says her hope for Sunday's parade is that people will be able to carry joy with them long after the weekend is over.

"Happiness is something that happens based on a moment. But joy is internalized. It comes from a part of your being that is connected to experience," Huey-Booker said. "So to be able to think of African Americans coming together to celebrate the victory and the suffering as a part of who we are -- It's just a phenomenal idea and experience."

Following the parade, two stages will host nonstop entertainment, along with even more activities for the entire family.

"This is an opportunity to really highlight all the beautiful and amazing things that we've contributed," Lester said. "So this is just a giant celebration of that."

The parade goes through downtown Oakland, along Franklin Street, from 14th to 19th Streets.

If you can't make it you can stream it live at ABC7 News.

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If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live