By Karen Stokes
Festival season begins this weekend in Milwaukee and the Heal the Hood Block Party is celebrating the community in a big way.
The Heal the Hood movement has grown since their first block party in 2012. The first block party had approximately 30 people in attendance compared to more than the 700 people attending the Heal the Hood Festival at Parklawn YMCA in 2016.
Heal the Hood is a community organization founded by Ajamou Butler. Butler started Heal the Hood after finding himself in a precarious situation. Unemployed, sleeping on his mother’s couch, just had a son and no car. He knew he needed to be productive, and started volunteering at nonprofit organizations.
Healing the community from poverty was a goal of Heal the Hood. They work with schools teaching creative writing workshops and provide information on resources, jobs and health care.
“When we started with the block party, we never knew we would be in schools teaching curriculum, we never knew we would meet Minister Farrakhan and that all these doors would open up as they have,” said Butler. “What we do in the community is promote healing.”
The two-day block party will be held at 10th and Atkinson (Atkinson Triangle) on Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28 from noon until 6 pm, on both days.
This outdoor celebration offers a fun-filled weekend of music, unique arts and crafts including a t-shirt tie dye activity using Kool-Aid, free food, children’s activities, face painting and entertainment featuring music by Timothy Cole, performances from the Milwaukee Flyers Tumbling Team, live music from Foreign Goods, spoken word by Still Waters Collective and much more.
“We pride ourselves on family activities every year,” said Butler, 25. “We have costume characters, Spider Man and the Ninja Turtles, arts and crafts and a teen basketball tournament.”
The 6th Annual Heal the Hood Block Party is sponsored in part by The Hunger Task Force, the Running Rebels and City on the Hill.
“I am totally for the uplifting of Black people but if you look at the ghettos on a more demographic level you realize that poverty has no color, poverty hurts us all, at the Heal the Hood Block Party you will see Muslims, Christians, politicians, you’ll see Rastafarians. We can come together for a positive endeavor,” Butler said.
“The Block Party celebrates what Heal the Hood does throughout the year,” said Butler. “This year we have a lot to celebrate.”