Following weeks of unrelenting protests, rallies, and critical calls for justice – Independence Day will undoubtedly resonate differently for many people this year, particularly for Black Americans and other people of color. But in Los Angeles, Grand Park’s annual July 4th Block Party aims to co-opt the holiday from white American traditions to instead celebrate its diverse population for a more profound and inclusive rendition.
“Fourth of July has a nativist veil, but at Grand Park we seek to dismantle systemic racism and reclaim the celebration to represent the many faces, corners, and cultures of the county. Fourth of July is a celebration of community and resiliency,” Marty Preciado, Grand Park Program Manager tells Remezcla.
The guest line-up and itinerary of events are exemplary of this, as they heavily center on Latinx, Asian, and Black identities. Grand Park’s July 4th Block Party features music, performances, profiles, and art showcases from over 25 artists and community members. Prominent names in the event include actor Danny Trejo, LA poet laureate Luis J. Rodriguez, ranchera/experimental singer San Cha, film director Mikey Alfred, cumbia collective Cumbiatón, graphic artist Shepard Fairey, hip-hop photographer Brian “B+” Cross, visual artist Patrick Martinez, and season one winner of Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow, rapper D Smoke.
According to Preciado, Grammy and Emmy-nominated director J. Kevin Swain—who directed six music videos for Tupac—is the director of this year’s party. “We are honored to work under the creative lens of a person who has an unmeasurable legacy of renowned work and vision,” Preciado says.
The first hour of the celebration will air locally in LA at 7 p.m. PST on ABC7/KABC-TV (and can be streamed on their website), while the last two hours of programming will be available for global audiences on Grand Park’s and The Music Center’s digital platforms. This is the first time the event takes place virtually due to safety concerns amid the pandemic. However, it felt more important than ever for the organizers to celebrate this occasion and create something to bolster the movements in LA and beyond.
“Working on Fourth of July during a moment of community uprising has been both a challenge and empowerment,” Preciado says. “How do we celebrate in a moment [where] we seek to dismantle systemic racism? I am so proud of the show we are creating, one that mirrors a commitment to stand by our marginalized communities.”
For more info and a schedule of events, visit Grand Park LA.