DC festival showcases political activism, healthy living and music

Washington (CNN)Nearly 10,000 millennials gathered Saturday at a park in southeast Washington to celebrate political activism, healthy living and music at the 5th annual Broccoli City music festival, which punctuated a weeklong series of events driven by a concern for the well-being of urban communities under the Trump administration.

As President Donald Trump settles into his fourth month in the White House, DC rapper Chaz French told CNN that while “it’s still f— Donald Trump,” the energy among activists is shifting from mere opposition into a call for action.
“F— Donald Trump. We don’t have give a f— about what’s going on in the White House right now in the sense of we know that that s— it’s not gonna last long,” French said following his performance at the festival.
    “We give a f— about these kids in southeast who can’t eat,” he said. “We give a f— about these kids in northeast who feel like this is the only place they will ever see. We give a f— about the homeless people who are talented and didn’t never have a way out.”
    After noting the disparity of food access in urban communities, Brandon McEachern founded Broccoli City in 2007 to raise awareness about healthy eating and give young people the tools to advocate for sustainable living, environmental sustainability, renewable energy and economic opportunity.
    “When you think about food access, when you think about sustainable education, at the end of the day what you’re talking about is just a good foundation,” McEachern told CNN.
    The music festival was held at Gateway DC, a park in the backyard of a vacant asylum, bringing local food vendors, local artists, an outdoor marketplace and a star-studded lineup including Solange, Rae Sremmurd, Lil Yachty and 21 Savage to a community that is often overlooked by performers.
    The full lineup included French, Sir the Baptist, Rapsody, Nao, AlunaGeorge, Kevin Abstract, Smino, Nick Grant and Rejjie Snow.
    “I love Broccoli City because it shows us the economic structure that we need for hip-hop,” Chicago R&B artist Sir the Baptist told CNN following his performance. “It shows us that, hey don’t just take festivals to great places. … Take it to the communities that really need it.”
    Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Pennsylvania, who participated in a festival panel about access to healthy foods with rapper Styles P, said that he noticed a shift in energy among activists.
    “I do think that (activism) is transforming to another stage, and that stage is for people to understand that this is their democracy and they should take ownership over it,” Evans said. “They have a right and an obligation to be vigilant and stay on top of things.”
    Sir the Baptist, who slammed Trump for being “way out of touch” with the African-American community as a candidate, said the festival reminds him of the work that needs to be done in Chicago.
    “In Chicago we have what we call a food desert, where for a certain amount of blocks and miles sometimes you can’t get healthy food,” he said. “And it’s amazing that in this time and this era we would have sort of a Third World country right there in Chicago where you can’t get healthy food.”
    Last Monday, the Trump administration scaled back school meal nutritional requirements that were set by the Obama White House in 2012 and championed by former first lady Michelle Obama.
    Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a news release that last Monday’s proclamation is the result of “years of feedback from students, schools, and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals.”
    CNN has reached out to the White House for comment and has not yet received a response.
    McEachern said that for the first time, the festival spanned an entire week and featured a 5K fitness run, a vegan food festival and “Broccoli Con” a series of panel discussions and conversations to provide young people with enough time to network and the tools to become more politically active in their communities.
    “We’re at the point where we can’t just talk about it,” North Carolina rapper Rapsody told CNN. “We have our moments to feel and live in our moments, but now it’s time to take action. Talking about it, just tweeting about it, that doesn’t do much to solve the problem.”

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