The Black and Brown Get Down
In celebration of the MLK holiday, and out of an effort to build power and cultivate change, the Second Annual “Black and Brown Get Down” took place last month. Sponsored and produced by Our Voice Nuestra Voz, the premise of the event was to “Break Bread and Build Community”; after all, most great things in our culture start at the dinner table. Established in 2019, out of a deep love for Black and Brown people, our shared struggle and our shared stories, this year’s event was held alongside the Muddy Mississippi at Crescent Park: Mandeville Warf, which was transformed into a beautiful and welcoming event space.
The night began with a ceremonial welcome from the Mardi Gras Indians and the Calpulli Tonaalehqueh, danzantes Azteca, You can read more about them on their site. It was a beautiful way to honor our ancestors and set the tone for the programming that took place.
The 200+ attendees were pre-assigned seating at tables bearing the names of notable ancestors- Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Nipsey Hussle (to name a few). Participants indulged in a family-style dinner with guided conversations around our communities, the challenges that are faced and steps we can take to build power together. As explained on Nuestra Voz’s social media page, “Without conversations, community needs cannot be identified, opportunities for success cannot be created and the barriers that keep us from building coalitions with one another cannot be broken.”
The Black and Brown Get Down is the brainchild of Marydee Moran, co-founder and Executive Director of Our Voice/Nuestra Voz, a local non-profit advocacy group. This event was one that Moran has dreamed about since she was a child, growing up in California. Now committed to the New Orleans community, Mary has seen her dream take on a life of its own.
At the end of the dinner, she announced the launch of one of the many transformative actions that will come from this movement: The #BlackandBrownGetDown Community Defense Fund.
This fund has been created to invest in our ability to act and defend Black and Brown people, including a bail relief fund and scholarships for undocumented students (among other things). Moran says, “ The #BlackAndBrownGetDown Community Defense Fund takes us from conversation to action. It increases our ability to act as a collective voice as we defend our communities and build our power. A community that cannot defend itself will continue to be vulnerable in a country that has historically left us voiceless, marginalized, and oppressed.”
After dinner there was dancing, celebrating and fellowship. The Black and Brown Get Down is truly one of the most uplifting events of the year. To find out more information and to sign up for other events, visit www.omv.org.