Groove City Culture Fest celebrates unity

Shania Bell, left, and Tywanda Griffin rested in the shade of Bethel AME Church during the festival.

Shania Bell, left, and Tywanda Griffin rested in the shade of Bethel AME Church during the festival.

CAMBRIDGE — Pine Street was packed Saturday, with locals and visitors, music and vendors, taking part in the Groove City Culture Fest. The event celebrated Black culture, reviving a summer tradition from the 1970s and 80s.
“For three days, we would have a big festival around Calvin Mowbray Park,” Lynette Wongus remembered. Ms. Wongus was one of many festival committee organizers who helped to present Saturday’s festival.
In those days, she said, “People came from all over the country,” many wearing black, red and green as a symbol of African heritage.
Those colors and the pride they symbolize were seen for blocks down Pine Street, which had been blocked for the day to accommodate the festival and its positive message.
Denise Parrington took part in the original events, and was the sixth Black Culture Day Queen in 1979. She spoke to the crowd about those days.
“History is important to every culture,” she said. “Everyone wants to know their roots.”
The fun began Saturday at 1 p.m., and continued until about 8 p.m., with two stages featuring performers. Included in the program were dancers, historical presentations, bands, DJs playing dance music, rappers, a fashion show, and photo collages of the original festival.
Anthony Stubbs is Ms. Parrington’s older brother. He said he was willing to work on the project to promote mutual respect.
“To me, it’s unity in the community,” he said.
Mr. Stubbs wasn’t the only one who saw the benefit of the festival.
“We should have one of these festivals [on Pine Street] once a month,” Cambridge Police Chief Mark Lewis said. “This is so good for the community.”
Many groups and individuals took part in planning and holding the culture fest. Among them were Dorchester Elks Lodge #223, Progressive of Dorchester #224, and Eastern Shore Network for Change.
With more than 60 vendors, performers, volunteers, as well as hundreds of locals and visitors — many from out of state — there was a spirit of success in the air.
DeAdrein Jones was taking in the sights as the crowds passed by. Mr. Jones grinned and said, “This street hasn’t seen this much activity in years.”
Editor’s note – Banner reporter Paul Clipper contributed to this article.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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