Black pride festival organizer created annual event to help others find a place to belong

Two person dance together
Dr. Brittany Lewis, left, and Tyria Bronson, right, dance together while Geneva Richards performs during the inaugural Mr. and Ms. Black Pride Pageant Thursday at The Saloon in downtown Minneapolis.
Nicole Neri for MPR News/Nicole Neri

Dennis Anderson had been attending pride events at Loring Park for years and even joined the board of the organizing group. However, Anderson, who is Black, didn’t see many other Black LGBTQ+ people there.

“That was one of the reasons that I decided to do this, 20 to 30 years ago, because there was no voice for POC people,” said Anderson.

Anderson started the group MN POC Pride which advocates for Black Indigenous and People of Color in the LGBTQ+ community. And for around 30 years, the organization has sponsored its own Pride festival.

This year's celebration, “Black Magic Weekend,” started Thursday and features several events including Thursday’s Black pride pageant, dance throwdown, community soul picnic and a vogue night.

Anderson said the festival is a safe space where Black LGBTQ+ people can express pride in their culture and identity. 

“This sort of thing for me is needed more than anything to make sure that we can find spaces and places to have our voice to be heard,” he said.

“Black Magic Weekend” runs through Sunday. 

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