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Broccoli City is a Black-owned social enterprise rooted in impact and entertainment that focuses on people and progress.
Over the weekend, they held an annual festival celebrating the culture’s most prominent and prolific musicians while encouraging participants to engage in their own communities.
The Black Wall Street Times was present for the Broccoli City Festival in Washington, DC and spoke with co-founders Jermon Williams and Darryl Perkins leading up to the event.
Over the past 10 years, over 20 million young people have engaged in a number of socially impactful Broccoli City events and online platforms.
Now in its eleventh year, Darryl remembers, “I was doing Earth Day events with the Hip Hop Caucus in 2009 – 2010 and we didn’t see a lot of people who look like us having conversations about community health and environmental sustainability.”
Broccoli City fosters creativity and community growth by building innovative experiences that intersect technology, music, art, and social impact.
“We asked, ‘how do we create a space to have fun, get information out, and come together in a positive spirit? ‘Broccoli City’ came out of that,” recalled Darryl.
Originally birthed as a festival experience centering Black communities in the DMV area, Broccoli City has developed into a national brand that creates and distributes opportunities, education and resources needed for the upward mobility and social progress of Black and brown communities.
Recently, BC Fit Day 2023 took place on Saturday, July 8 at Langdon Park in Washington, DC. The event was designed to promote health, wellness, and community engagement.
On Juneteenth, Broccoli City Impact, Streets Calling DC, Bike in the City, Sandlot Anacoastia and the DC community teamed up for a community bike ride to celebrate the holiday while promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.
BroccoliCon is a free career expo for minority college students of four and two year institutions, young professionals and individuals seeking fresh job opportunities.
“Broccoli City always been about these issues, and as we’ve continued, the festival has only grown,” said Jermon. “It’s a blessing that folks come to it and resonate with what we stand for.”
Jermon stated, “You’re going to always see local representation in our events. Like DC, you’re going to get Go-Go and DC hip hop.”
He remembers a phone conversation between himself and the other co-founders after a 2010 Global Cooling event in Los Angeles (Kendrick Lamar was an opening act).
After witnessing that event’s success, Jermon recalls they decided to name their organization “Broccoli City Fest” and the rest has been history.
But why is it called ‘Broccoli City?’
“The word ‘Broccoli’ represents a lot to a lot of people,” explained Darryl. “Two of our partners are from Greensboro a.k.a. Green City. Also when you think about Broccoli, it should make you think of health first, which is the goal of what we do. It can mean weed or money too, it can be any and all of those things.”
Darryl continued, “We want people to come and have a good time at the festival but also engage with our community work throughout the year. Since 2017, one of the cool things what we do is offer people a ticket to Broccoli City Fest by engaging in volunteer work.”
Known for bringing the most culturally acclaimed artists to the Broccoli City stage, Jermon credits founder Brandon McEachern with incredible foresight and impeccable taste in music.
“Brandon has put so many Grammy Award winners before they became Grammy winners on our lineup,” said Jermon. “Our music also reflects the 65 – 70 percent of Black women which are our base. And we keep an ear out for what Gen Z is listening to, so that they and millennials can all have an engaged experience together.”
Both Jermon and Darryl credit Broccoli City Fest for introducing them to now well-known artists like Dom Kennedy, GoldLink, DJ Kaytronada and SZA.
Though the music fest gave all the viral moments like Coco Jones singing SWV’s “Rain” in the middle of a DC downpour, Darryl says the impact of the festival is less about moments and more about momentum.
“While it’s powerful that we’re able to get 30,000 people to come to the festival, if we can get a third of the people to mobilize into action that makes a huge difference in the community,” said Darryl.
“We have a platform called ‘We Chip N‘ where people can donate to community organizations which in turn allows them to earn digital tokens to festivals, gift cards, concert tickets just for being a part of our community,” explained Darryl.
“We’ve helped build over 25 community gardens in DC,” Darryl stated. “I’m really proud when I hear somebody met someone else through Broccoli City Fest or Broccoli Con, there have been marriage proposals, so many memories associated with Broccoli City.”
Jermon agreed, saying, “Whether it’s giving back to the community or pouring into the culture with their individual talents, it’s the people who inspire and connect to us that make me most proud. People have been motivated by what we do to pursue their own passions.”
Kindness was pervasive at Broccoli City Fest, festival goers shared a unified and familial love which is also reflected from the top.
The sun’s intensity consistently presented challenges to attendees, with U.S. cities warming at historically unprecedented high levels, festival goers were at times overwhelmed by the searing heat. However, attentive performers, security, and hosts where there to quickly send aid to whomever was in need.
With crowd safety as a priority throughout the weekend, Saturday night’s festivities were responsibly cut short due to incoming lightening that soaked and struck the District well into the evening.
Though disappointment reigned for those unable to catch Jazmine Sullivan perform, shortly after Broccoli City announced full refunds would be issued for Saturday ticket holders.
Regardless of the unpredictable weather on Saturday evening, festival goers were able to return Sunday to celebrate the culture’s music, shop from food and clothier vendors, join a number of initiatives, and support each other in the process.