North Richmond church to host block party Saturday
on August 4, 2011
North Richmond has always had it tough. In the 1940s and 1950s, when it was a segregated community for African American families, it regularly flooded and the dirt roads turned into muddy rivers. Today, it remains one of the poorest communities in the state.
But it can host a good party, and religious and community leaders hope to build on a festive summer with the First Annual North Richmond Community Block Party, set for August 6.
The event follows a North Richmond Blues music festival earlier this month and precedes a green festival slated for September.
“We hope this helps continue to instill some community pride and an atmosphere where we all feel that we belong, we can work together,” said Pastor Dana Keith Mitchell of North Richmond Missionary Baptist Church, which will host the gathering. “We must get to know each other all over again.”
Organizers are billing the block party as a fun, safe venue for residents to enjoy free food, music and entertainment. Games will also be available, including dominoes, basketball and a chess tournament.
Chevron Corp., which operates the West Coast’s largest oil refinery less than a mile away, is the chief funder of the event, Mitchell said. Other support is being provided by the Richmond city Police and Fire Departments. Mitchell said he has also reached out to the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol, but is unsure whether they will participate.
The event is needed now, Mitchell said, in part because of the recent spate of violence that claimed 10 lives in Richmond and unincorporated North Richmond in July.
“We are extremely concerned about the level of violence,” Mitchell said. “The social and economic tensions in our young people are bubbling out, and we must engage them in a positive way.”
Local congregations have been conferring about this event since early this year, Mitchell said. Other partners include Macedonia Baptist Church, New Hope Baptist Church and North Richmond Baptist Church, all historic institutions in the community.
“We need to come together and reach out to one another,” Mitchell said. “Especially our young people.”
Mitchell also praised Richmond Police Department Captain Mark Gagan, saying that he was an early partner in ensuring that the department would be a participant in the party.
North Richmond Missionary Baptist has a history unmatched in the area. Founded in 1921 at its current site by Reverend G.C. Coleman, the church was the first African-American Baptist church in Contra Costa County. Today, the church conducts regular outreach, including weekly soup kitchens and food giveaways.
Chevron Corp., which is often criticized by local environmental activists due to the emissions its operations generate so close to the community, was a willing supporter, Mitchell said.
“Chevron is proud to support the 1st Annual North Richmond Community Block Party to help celebrate the unity of North Richmond,” Mike Coyle, General Manager of Chevron’s Richmond Refinery, said in a prepared statement. “We are committed to work to improve the quality-of-life for our neighbors, and hope this event will encourage a positive sense of community.”
- North Richmond Missionary Baptist Church, 1427 Filbert Street
- Saturday, Aug. 6
- 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Free food, games, and good times
|First Annual North Richmond Block Party
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