Black-Owned Brooklyn’s New Film Shines A Light On The Significance Of Soul Summit

Taryn Finley
·Black Voices Editor, HuffPost
·3-min read

The founders of Black-Owned Brooklyn, a platform that aims to uplift Black businesses, are shining a light on how gentrification has affected Soul Summit, a music and cultural event that has served as a safe haven for Black Brooklyn residents for nearly 20 years.

“Soul Summit: Doin’ It in the Park,” which premiered Thursday on YouTube, documents the historic and cultural significance of the festival and hub for Black creatives.

The story behind Soul Summit hasn’t been documented the way it deserves, the film’s creators Tayo Giwa and Cynthia Gordy Giwa told HuffPost. They described the energy of the summit as “poignant” and diverse, with Black folks of different generations, sexualities and genders.

“One of the goals that we have with Black-Owned Brooklyn overall is to tell stories of Black culture and Black history in Brooklyn. You can’t find a lot of easily accessible write-ups or films or articles about these places and people and things,” said Gordy Giwa, who served as producer on the film.

“Something that’s accessible and informative for regular people, that sort of different kind of intellectual labor hadn’t quite been done this way, so it was really important for us to cover it in our way,” she added.

One of the goals that we have with Black-Owned Brooklyn overall is to tell stories of Black culture and Black history in Brooklyn. Cynthia Gordy Giwa, producer of “Soul Summit: Doin’ It in the Park”

The film features interviews with Soul Summit co-founder Sadiq Bellamy, scholar Kavita Kulkarni and several longtime attendees of the festival. They discuss Soul Summit’s international impact, its meaning for house music lovers, and growing regulations in Fort Greene Park.

The documentary also explores how Soul Summit has started to disappear as Fort Greene becomes more white and affluent. The summer event went from being held weekly to only twice each year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer was the first since 2001 that the festival has not taken place.

Giwa, who directed and produced the film, told HuffPost that it’s important to commemorate cultural institutions that are rooted in Blackness before it’s too late and others co-opt and forget their origins.

“A lot of times when people talk about these sort of cultural institutions, they sort of talk about it in a way that is divorced from race,” he said. “And the fact that Black people created this large event in a public park that has drawn people from across the world to attend, I think it’s important to tell it from that lens so that it’s just recorded in time and we can look back and remember fondly our experience at Soul Summit.”

Giwa said the purpose of the film is primarily to show pride and give praise to their community, but he hopes those new to Fort Greene watch it and respect the cultural sanctity of the summit.

“This is something that’s precious, and we need to treat it as something that’s worthy of our protection and consecration.”

“Soul Summit: Doin’ It in the Park” is available to watch on YouTube or Instagram TV.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.