Over the weekend, CHS reported on Wa Na Wari, a single-family style home just blocks from the multitude of change going on around 23rd and Union that has been turned into a center for community and the arts in celebration of Black culture and history in the Central District.
Saturday, a tradition in the Central Area since the 1940s returned to the neighborhood with the annual Umoja Fest Parade marching from 23rd and Union to Judkins Park.
This year’s Central District component of the city’s official Seafair festivities paraded by the boarded-up Midtown shopping center where the post office and small businesses were part of the latest small wave of displacement in the area as a project to demolish the old shopping strip and replace it with thousands of square feet of new commercial space and hundreds of new apartments waits to dig in. The center’s displacement has also been partly balanced with Earl’s Cuts finding a new home in the inclusively developed Liberty Bank Building at 24th and Union. And the post office has zeroed in on a planned new home nearby.
While Umoja Fest and its parade are now part of the Seafair festivities, organizers say its history goes back much further and the event should be credited for inspiring the citywide celebration. “The purpose of the festival and parade is to highlight the history and countless contributions of African-Americans locally, regionally, nationally and internationally,” organizers write. “It is a celebration that gives people for all over Washington and the northwest an opportunity to experience the rich African heritage and culture of the region.”
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