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It was just about this time last year that members of DC Black Pride (DCBP) got the news that Daryl Wilson would be running a parallel event during Memorial Day Weekend — some said to augment, some said in direct competition to — the Black Pride celebration held during the same weekend and marking its 19th anniversary this year.
That split came after Wilson’s prior affiliation with DCBP, he saying that his Chocolate City Fest 2008 was needed because the District’s Black Pride celebration was being hit by newer, for-profit celebrations aimed at the black GLBT community held during the same weekend in Cancun, Mexico, and Miami. In the end, Wilson’s event and DCBP ran their 2008 course. By the end of the year, however, burnt bridges were being rebuilt.
“DC Black Pride is pleased to announce its Night Life partnership with Daryl Wilson Promotions to present the official opening and closing parties for Memorial Day Weekend,” read an April 6 release from DCBP. “Dispelling myths of a love-hate relationship with Daryl Wilson Promotions and manifesting the true meaning of our  ‘Pure Love’ theme, DCBP hopes this joint venture will remind us all of the spirit of unity, which is so critical to our community’s survival.”
The mend began when Wilson reached out to Khalid Parker, who became president of DCBP in October 2008, following Courtney Snowden’s step down due to professional obligations. For Parker and Wilson, that October rapport was the beginning of a new relationship.
“I didn’t want to focus on the past,” says Parker of his reaction to Wilson’s outreach. “I just wanted things to go forward.”
Parker adds that although he was serving as DCBP secretary at the time of the 2008 rift, he was not particularly aware of any friction, saying, “I didn’t know there was an issue, other than what I heard on the street. I thought things were fine.”
Wilson believes that realigning with DCBP is both good for the community and a necessity as Sizzle in Miami, from Dwight Powell Productions, and SJB Cancun, produced by SanJuanBrothas, continue to build themselves as Memorial Day Weekend events for the African-American GLBT community.
“I don’t want people in the community thinking of us as two separate entities,” says Wilson. “We’re up against strong competition, and they’re trying to push into our community…. I thought, in my heart, that we need one another.”
While his focus is on the community, Parker, too, grants that DCBP cannot afford to ignore these other events, acknowledging that attendance is as important as enthusiasm when it comes to producing a successful Pride celebration. He was particularly surprised by Sizzle promotions in the D.C. area, which he believes is unprecedented.
Regardless of past schisms or promotional turf wars, Parker remains excited about the 2009 celebration. To him, the past is of little concern.
“I didn’t know Daryl Wilson personally till we had our meeting,” says Parker. “I believe in giving chances…. Us working together this year is a sure sign that we’re working to support the community. If we don’t have the support of the community, neither of us will survive.”
While Wilson says that producing Chocolate Fest 2008 may have been a mistake and though he runs a for-profit enterprise, like Parker he emphasizes that the community is a paramount.
“I love D.C. — this is my home,” he says. “I think I’ve done a fabulous job in providing entertainment and venues for the African-American GLBT community….Everybody makes mistakes. We have hiccups in life. You’ve got to get up and dust yourself off.”
For the full lineup of DC Black Pride’s Memorial Day Weekend 2009 celebration, “Pure Love,” May 21-25, or for more information about DCBP, visit www.dcblackpride.org.
Editor’s note: Metro Weekly’s parent company, Jansi LLC, publishes the DC Black Pride Guide.
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