The audience at the 2023 Broccoli City Festival enjoyed a few headliners before the Festival was terminated early due to weather conditions. (Abdullah Konte/The Washington Informer)

Despite thunderstorms preventing some of the headlining performances on Saturday, July 15, Broccoli City Festival offered a fun-filled weekend featuring outstanding performances from the likes of Brent Faiyaz, Coco Jones, City Girls, Chloe Bailey, Backyard Band, Ice Spice, TiaCorine, Kodak Black, Saucy Santana and many more.  Even with the engaging entertainment, various vendors and interactive activations, this year’s festival also proudly encouraged peaceful interactions, networking and equity advocacy for Washingtonians and Black Americans.

“It’s about anything that we can do to bring people together peacefully, to bring people together in positive ways,” said Mitchell McCraw, general manager of the Gathering Spot Washington, D.C. 

 “Bringing people together in a peaceful situation like this, when other people often expect us not to act in this capacity– it’s inspiring,” McCraw added, considering stereotypes and some of the violence that has been plaguing the District and surrounding suburbs.

McCraw, who has worked and collaborated with the Broccoli City team for years, said, in addition to the camaraderie, the festival has always been rooted in entertainment and advocacy.

“Broccoli City started with the idea of being green– creating a green footprint across the country, especially for people of color,” McCraw emphasized. “But then you always have to come because it’s so much fun to gather with your friends.”

While the first day presented some slight snafus, such as long, unorganized lines to get a wristband for entrance, and being forced to end Saturday’s festivities a bit early due to lightning and heavy rain, Broccoli City guests maintained the good vibes. 

 “Seeing us able to do this in a peaceful way gives me hope, gives me pride and makes me feel inspired for what’s going to come behind me,” McCraw told the Informer.

In addition to singing and dancing along to their favorite artists, thousands of Broccoli City attendees spent hours catching up with friends, exploring the festival grounds and learning about some of the causes important to achieving equity for all people.

Attracted by the t-shirts and wealth of information about the breadth of their advocacy, people flocked to the Black Voters Matter booth.

“Black Voters Matter is here to spread our message of spreading love and building power,” said Venkayla Haynes, communications director for the organization. “We believe that our work is 365, so we just don’t work on elections… We work on a wide variety of issues such as affordable housing, healthcare, homelessness, mental health, Medicaid, and the list goes on.”

As a cut and sew fashion designer and local equity advocate, Saba Tshibaka, founder and CEO of Rendered, took to the festival to fight for the rights of Washingtonians. 

“I’m here today supporting the 51st State activation– 51 State Village,” Tshibaka said on day one of the festival. “I want to see D.C. get statehood, and I want to see people that live in D.C. get the resources that they deserve.”

Through the use of a host (organizer Carl Thomas), an interactive photo wall, arts activities, and offering information, many people came to the 51st statehood area as curious visitors and left informed.   

Tshibaka found herself educating people from all over the United States about the importance of Washingtonians achieving full representation in the House and Senate.

“Broccoli City’s bringing a lot of people from all over the country. I’ve, just in the last hour, met people from North Carolina, [California], Virginia,” Tshibaka told the Informer. 

“Honestly, putting people in a space where they have opportunities to listen to music, and be inside the city, and do activations like this, is really second to none. There’s really nothing like this and the people Broccoli City brings out.”

WI Managing Editor Micha Green is a storyteller and actress from Washington, D.C. Micha received a Bachelor’s of Arts from Fordham University, where she majored in Theatre, and a Master’s of Journalism...

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