With sunny weather, go-go music cranking, people shopping and jamming, and vendors filling the H Street corridor, the 2023 H Street Festival on Saturday was a huge celebration of the beauty of D.C. culture.
While the event highlighted the rich diversity of District residents, the 11-block annual festival that brings out more than 150,000 residents, also showcased the many local Black entrepreneurs who are working to empower their community with their wares.
In her first year participating in the festival, entrepreneur Taryn Laster Whitehead took to the H Street Festival to share her immune booster, On the Vine Elderberry Syrup, an all-natural, organic product, made in a commercial kitchen in Springfield, Virginia.
“We thought it was super important that people think about their health and wellness,” said Laster Whitehead. “I think when people hear health and wellness, they think ‘fitness.’ But you can look any type of way and care about your health. And so we’re here to provide a product that really helps to boost your immune system.”
Laster Whitehead, who co-founded the company with her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority line sister, said H Street Festival was a perfect location to spread the word about On the Vine Elderberry Syrup and the company’s do-it-yourself (DIY) kit.
“It’s been phenomenal. I feel so honored to be able to participate in the H Street Festival,” she said. “Everyone has been so welcoming and it’s been great.”
Veto Premier and Charles Gussom of Black Pawn Game also took to the H Street Festival to not only sell a product but empower.
“The idea was inspired by a mediocre chess player on a mission to try to master the game of chess,” Premier, who founded Black Pawn Game, told The Informer. “Upon sitting down for the very first game, the first thing he discovered was, whoever had the white pieces moved first; consequently, putting the black pieces in a defensive position. The second thing he discovered was, out of all the pieces on the board — whether it was the king, queen, the bishop, the knight, the rook — the pawn presumably is the weakest piece because it’s often sacrificed for the better good of the game. But the pawn is the only piece that can elevate to become any piece of the board. So we are the Black Pawn Game.”
The local clothing company has a message in its branding.
“What’s unique about our pawn, is that our pawn already has the crown on its head, signifying that he or she is already self-identified and has been crowned. What we see in our neighborhoods, where we lack resources, people often tell us that we’re ‘never going to be anything in life.’ All our lives, they’ve told us we’re ‘nothing but the pawn,’” Premier continued. “We’re educating our community that we’re actually the true kings and queens through luxury garments.”