Echoes of Unity at The Pan-African Connection Dallas

Echoes of Unity at The Pan-African Connection Dallas

updated 06Apr2024 15:45

DALLAS, TX (CA) — Right there in southside of Dallas is this hidden oasis of good food and culture. - I had to lead with the food because let me tell you when I got there I was hungry and I was surrounded by artists.  And If I'm hungry around artists, I know they're hungry too.  That's why I said I had to mention the food because it was ALL RIGHT THERE.

You came to the right place this is the poetry event article but what I came to find out about the Pan-African Connection is it's the central hub of an all day everyday  Black-owned marketplace, except the Family Dollar which is run by CEO Rick Dreiling, a suit who is (Borat voice please) Naaht Blleeeack!! 😹

I know nobody knows who Borat is anymore so just... here.  you're welcome.
Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat for context

Before you make it to the doors of the Pan-African connection you'll see multiple restaurants all around you, barbershops, all kinds of holistic wellness shopping.  Look, if you need to get spiritual supplies and take care of all your errands and get everything you need in Dallas, you have everything you need right here.  They even had starter plants for sale (2 for $10 rosemary)!

As the unique poetry night unfolds within the walls of the Pan-African Connection, bringing to life the spirit of community and cultural celebration. Spearheaded by Aisha Shahid, this monthly event stands as a beacon of empowerment and artistic expression.

"Stepping into the Pan-African Connection, the ambiance immediately enveloped me," recalls Frankie Mohammed, his words painting a vivid picture of a venue alive with the essence of African heritage. From the rhythm of drums to the wisdom in books, each element told a story, setting the stage for a night of poignant performances.
The event's inception was driven by a desire to provide a platform for voices often unheard, allowing poets to share narratives of struggle, triumph, and existence. "The energy was palpable, a collective heartbeat," Mohammed notes, capturing the essence of unity that filled the room as each poet took the stage.
Aisha Shahid, the night's orchestrator, infused the gathering with warmth through her culinary creations and masterful hosting, proving the power of art to unite and inspire.
Back to the food, the first poet who took the stage was this young sir by the name of Berrytone Jones.  And of course the first thing that came out of his mouth was every piece of vegan food poetry talking about every wrong that good food will make right.  Let me tell you what I'm pro vegan food most of the time when it's right there in front of me...  Please enjoy the  performance from Berrytone and then take a break to grab something to eat before you come back for the rest of the videos.
Berrytone Jones performs Healthy Habits
This event showcased the talent and resilience of its participants and also highlighted the community's hunger for spaces that celebrate cultural identity and provide avenues for expression. As Mohammed reflects on the night's impact, he sees it as more than an event. "It was a statement – a declaration that in the midst of challenge and change, art remains an indomitable force for unity and empowerment."
Renee Blackwell, a voice for the LGBTQ+ community, brought her battle against censorship for all to the forefront, her poetry serving as both weapon and solace.
You can only hear it for the first time once and here I was on my knees in front of the renowned Sad Renee herself - with every elder of the Pan-African connection seated directly behind me as far as I knew - and when she said [CENSORED] I died.  I still held the camera.  but my head exploded and my spirit had left me.  Let me remind you - in the video above not moments earlier we had Berrytone Jones spelled like the berry from the community garden - Wishing a happy birthday to sweet Sister Akwete (yes, owner of the whole place).  And yet, yes, she did apologize in advance to the elders, why did it only take me until after my head  was in pieces on the ground to connect the dots!?! 😹  It was a rollercoaster ride ok and we ALL survived 😹😹  But for real, I'm working on how many times I can have the FSDCLA&P words on and not get demonetized so give me a minute on the video 😹... Thank you Sad Renee for teaching us all about censorship and "Respectability Politics" 
The narrative of the Texas Poetry community is being made at the Pan-African Connection. In the words of Mohammed, "a regular stable event like this going on about a year now is a good way to have that artistic-economic lifeline for the artists and poets in Texas.  Dallas is only a 4 hour drive from Houston if traffic is perfect both ways.  And events like this make the real world bigger for everyone."
Stay tuned here for more images pictures and complete performances.
Next week, Expect tales of elders who guide with wisdom, artists who captivate with their words, and the collective effort to celebrate and elevate every voice (We went overtime). This sneak peek promises an exploration of the moments that brought everyone closer, from the poetic to the playful exchanges that defined the evening.
More to follow...
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