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Return of the funk: DC's Funk Parade is back

The 2020 parade was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

WASHINGTON — The Funk Parade is on this year!

The pandemic forced organizers to cancel last year's event, but now they're back in business.

For those who don't know, the Funk Parade is a celebration of D.C.'s U Street, its history and its vibrancy. 

First held in 2014, the Funk Parade has reached over 300,000 residents and D.C. visitors and has provided over 500 hours of performance by D.C.-based artists, including musicians, dancers, and performance artists, and cultural programming that examines the intersection of social concerns and art, organizers said in a release.

Several events kicked off this week, with more to come, including a Black Broadway mural walk happening Wednesday, and a virtual festival Saturday that will include performances from Oh He Dead, We The Fix, Rallo Boykins, Roquois, OnRae LaTeal, and others.

The theme of this year's Funk Parade is Black Broadway.

“As we deal with gentrification and changing times we knew it was important to preserve the funk parade, to remind the country of Black Broadway and how it contributed to the history, but to also leverage and bring everybody together so that we could create more opportunities for the children of tomorrow to do the same," Jessica Teachey, the Director of Community Engagement for MusicianShip said. 

This year's parade is being directed by the non-profit organization The MusicianShip.

Teachey said despite all the changes that have come to the U-Street the infamous street remains Black Broadway.

"I think if you go and even if you start off at night in little Ethiopia, and you make your way over to the Marion Barry Reeves center, you know 14th and U St., you will still see so much influence, arts, culture from African American people who were here before us," Teachey said. 

The Funk Parade comes as the outlet outside of the Reeves center has been sealed and closed off, not allowing bands and musicians to play at the popular location on U St. 

D.C. ANC Commissioner Sabel Harris said several musicians haven't been able to perform because of it. Unfortunate timing Harris said as the city celebrates D.C. culture with the Funk Parade.

Yet the celebration continued. Wednesday people gathered for a mural tour of Black Broadway, which historian Bernie Demczuk said is how history is preserved by sharing history, visiting the murals, and sharing the stories behind them.

"Most importantly it's being preserved by the spirit of the people, and that they love the concept of the Black Broadway," Demczuk said. "Black Broadway is more of a philosophy, an idea, a concept, and it's a lot of fun. It's not just about skin color. It's about the spirit of keeping the funk alive."

“We’re thrilled to bring our community together in creative ways to celebrate Black Broadway - past, present, and future. The lineup across our events highlights the incredible talent we have in the DMV and we’re excited for people to experience the vibrant artistic, musical, and cultural diversity of our region,” said Jeffery Tribble, Jr., Executive Director of The MusicianShip.

The group is partnering with several local sponsors, including U Street staple Ben's Chili Bowl.

Masks are required for in-person events.

For more information on the parade, and tickets to Saturday's virtual festivities, visit FunkParade.com

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