The 16th annual Silver Room Sound System Block Party enveloped the streets of downtown Hyde Park, last Saturday where thousands of Chicagoans gathered to enjoy food and music from primarily black and brown vendors and performers.
This year’s theme for the festival, “The Greater Good,” was inspired by the effort to bring the community together in celebration. Families lined the sidewalks of East 53rd Street with their lawn chairs, while house music bumped loudly, and the piquant smell of barbecued wings filled the air.
“Last year I came and was wowed, and this year I knew I had to be a part of it,” said Tuyeni Akankeim, educator at the Healing Academy and vendor at the Silver Room Block Party. “We are proud to be here in representation of black art and black healing, because we have true spiritual value and true spiritual power.”
The Silver Room Block Party was established by the owner of the renowned jewelry and retail operation, Eric Williams in 1997 — and the storefront has made a name for itself ever since. Its eclectic mix of handmade jewelry, clothing and art, represents a diverse variety of local and international artists, and this year’s Block Party offered a myriad of music, food, and merchandise to match.
The Block Party has grown into a vibrant and culturally diverse event, open to all ages. This year marked its fourth year of partnership with Downtown Hyde Park, a collaboration that has garnered the attendance of thousands of Chicagoans.
It is a grassroots mission to bring the community together and that was apparent to many of this year’s attendees.
“The Silver Room Block Party is a Chicago Summertime Staple,” said Melissa Duprey who is a regular attendee of the Southside festival. “I love that it is so predominantly black and brown,” she continued, “lifting up a lot of the fabric that is interwoven in Chicago that people don’t often think about. I love that it’s on the South Side and it brings a lot of people and communities to the South Side, just to really celebrate our existence and our survival, because nobody really celebrates like we do.”