The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

Block Party on Elm

BLACCENT Educates, Hosts Waco Community

1 month ago

By Avery Ballmann

Waco’s historic Elm Avenue has witnessed a resurgence in popularity and is returning to its roots of hosting events such as the Bridge Street Farmers Market, Eastside Market and now, BLACCENT’s spring 2024 Block Party on Elm April 19 from 6—11 p.m.

BLACCENT is a local 501(c)3 nonprofit that began across the river from Elm Avenue at Indian Spring Park. In 2020, they hosted Black Lives Matter protests for the unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. BLACCENT’s 2020 protests garnered approximately 400 community members and were organized by De’Viar Woodson and Tneyah Lanae. From these protests grew BLACCENT and their upcoming Block Party is a testament of the growth the group has witnessed.

“This year, we circle back to focus on how we can make the best escape possible for the community to actually have a really good time while still pushing out all these resources and information that people need to know and need to be aware of,” Woodson said.

The block party will have 13 live musicians and poets throughout the evening along with a DJ, games, mechanical bull, free haircuts, TV raffle, vendor market and information booths from local organizations and nonprofits such as Texas Behavioral Health, The Phoenix Project and Party for Socialism & Liberation (PSL) Waco.

“One of the reasons why we want to be at the block party is because it’s all about connecting with the community,” PSL member Matthew Templer said. “I think that’s our biggest thing is connecting with the community in a bunch of different ways. As a political organization, that means understanding the intersectionality of everybody’s struggles.”

Woodson explained that BLACCENT’s activist roots was to get involved in community/state/national unjust public affairs, but this wasn’t sustainable. Instead, they want to uplift the organizations in these areas and help spread their mission.

“A big thing that we’ve learned through our years of doing this is we really shouldn’t be trying to reinvent the wheel or throw ourselves into a lane that already exists,” Woodson said. “We should be trying to uplift those people and allow them to get more attention and help.”

Being with PSL Waco for over a year, Templer said he has noticed inter-group relationships and collaborations in Waco are growing stronger.

“One thing that has totally inspired me lately has been the level of community that is apparent within other organizations,” Templer said. “That kind of energy of us all supporting each other while all also working together for our own causes, I think is really special.”

The block party is not only uplifting local nonprofits but is also uplifting local businesses at their event including Tru Jamaica, The FoodBox and Issaburgerjoint. But while BLACCENT is supporting Waco through community events and park clean ups, Wacoans can support BLACCENT by attending events and following their social media:

“There’s certain times where we do things that we don’t really know if it’s translating,” Woodson said. “Having somebody to reach out and be like, ‘Hey, I see y’all and I appreciate what y’all are doing’, that does a lot for us. It really does.”

The block party will be hosted at Bridge Street Plaza, located at the intersection of E Bridge St. and S Mann St. Free haircuts will be from 6–8 p.m. and there will be live music, games and food all night long.

“I’m just really hoping that people come out and have a good time — that it’s safe, that it’s fun and that people actually leave knowing something that they didn’t know when they first got there,” Woodson said. “Whether that’s an artist or a vendor, or go home with some information that they can put to good use.”


Photos provided by BLACCENT