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Alexandria Event to Recognize Need for Social Change Through Conversation and Beer

ALEXANDRIA, VA – On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Almost six decades later, its words still resonate as a call to unity.

On Friday, August 28 – fifty-seven years to the day of King’s historic and career-defining speech – The Loop, in the former Chec Soda & Refrigeration warehouse on Payne Street, will be the site of Alexandria’s “BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL” event. It is billed as a “social gathering for social good.”

“BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL” started as a national initiative by a Black-owned Texas brewery, Weathered Souls, intended to renew the conversation of race relations in America after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

During this city’s event, a new beer, also called “BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL,” will be unveiled.

In planning for months, the event is a collaboration between old friends: Brandon Byrd, Owner of Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats; David Hartogs, Owner of Rocket Frog Brewing; and Swing’s Coffee Roasters.

Byrd told The Zebra Press that in conversation with Hartogs, they knew having an “amazing local coffee partner” would enhance the final beer, and thus asked the team behind Swing’s Coffee Roasters, to help tweak the recipe given to them by the Texas brewery. Goodies is contributing their proprietary vanilla extract, Swing’s its coffee beans, and Rocket Frog will handle the brewing and packaging.

Brandon Byrd, Owner of Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats, spoke at length with The Zebra Press about the “BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL” event. (Photo courtesy Brandon Byrd)

As the three businesses have come together, Byrd is hopeful that the event will bring people together for a great cause, even during the pandemic.

Pointing out that larger beverage brands have not often been catalysts for social change initiatives, Byrd said, “We are using this platform that we have collectively to amplify issues that people of color face daily…and to some to degree, it shows the progress, and it shows the areas where progress is lacking still.”

One of the changes that King championed during his lifetime was an end to police brutality, and Byrd laments that people of color are still dealing with that issue today.

“This is 2020, but it feels eerily similar to the Fifties,” he said.

As Byrd thought of a way to commemorate King’s speech and about what it means at present, he understood there had to be an event on the anniversary that spoke to a new generation in a credible way. His fellow organizers were in agreement.

“When King delivered that speech, it was a pivotal point in American history,” Byrd said. “We’re at that same pivotal point now.”

Photo courtesy Brandon Byrd

“BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL” will be hosted in two two-hour sessions at The Loop on 215 Payne Street. The times are 12-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Tickets cost $15 each with $12 of every sale going to Black Lives Matter. Each session is limited to 75 patrons. To buy tickets, click HERE.

Food trucks will be on-site. Attendees can purchase from Meggrolls and BBQ Bus. DJ Mixxed will provide music.

To follow health guidelines, organizers consulted with the Alexandria Health Department. Masks are required to attend. Hand sanitizer will be available. Social distancing will be enforced with appropriate table spacing and by limiting the number of people seated at each table.

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Kevin Dauray

Kevin is Publisher's Assistant with The Zebra Press. He has been working for Alexandria's "Good News" newspaper since 2019. A graduate of George Mason University, he earned a bachelor's in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He also studied at the Columbia School of Broadcasting and holds a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University. He is an alumnus of T.C. Williams High School. Go Titans!

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