Oakland residents, and many throughout the Bay Area, lined Broadway on Feb. 24 to celebrate the second annual Black Joy Parade and Celebration in downtown Oakland.

The family-friendly event began with a parade led by a six-person marching band, followed by dancers, drummers and even a few horses.

To some, the event was a chance to not only celebrate African-American culture, but to remember the history of their community.

“Oakland has historically been a hub for black activists,” said Oakland resident Muriel Vinson. “A lot of kids don’t know that history, so it’s important to come together and remind them of it.”

Many attendees wore gold crowns to echo the message of the parade: “Crown Your Joy.”

For Cassandra Carver, that message was about creating a space for the black community to feel joyful and safe.

“It’s hard to be a person of color in this country,” she said. “We need spaces like this that are honoring blackness.”

The parade was a mix of local businesses and organizations like the Richmond-based RYSE Youth Center and the Black Teacher Project, based in Oakland, alongside larger corporations like Facebook and Comcast.

The parade and festival were reminders to some of the displacement felt by many East Bay black residents.

“It’s heartbreaking to see how decentralized the black community has been in recent years,” said Oakland native Aaron Clark. “We need to let people know that we’re still here.”

The celebration continued after the parade with a festival featuring local vendors, artists and restaurants and a concert headlined by rapper T-Pain.

Story originally published by Bay City News.