Home Local News 13th Annual Black/Latino Unity Picnic set for Sunday at Penn Park

13th Annual Black/Latino Unity Picnic set for Sunday at Penn Park


The annual Black/Latino Unity Picnic (Picnic por la Unidad) will take place at Penn Park on Sunday, Aug. 29.

The event is now in its 13th year started and has been organized every year by Clarissa Pearson and Alex Gillis of Union de Trabajadores Inmigrantes (UTI). This year’s picnic is being held in partnership with the Madison Public Library and the Latino Chamber of Commerce.

 “I can’t believe it’s been 13 years already. This year’s event is going to be very different with the collaboration with South Madison Public Library and the Latino Chamber of Commerce. We will see how this goes and hopefully it goes well and we continue to have this collaboration for years to come,” Pearson, an organizer for the Black and Brown Unity Project, tells Madison365.

The Black/Latino Unity Picnic will have live music, food carts, dancing, face painting, blood pressure checks, screenprinting, bilingual storytimes and other events for kids and adults. Wellness activities include one-on-one reiki experiences, 15-minute acupuncture sessions and a community conversation in conjunction with the Black & Latino Unity Picnic that will focus on wellness.

“One of the things that we’re really focused on is the community forum – talking about how Black and Latino folks have really been affected by COVID and how they are able to carry on through the pandemic,” Pearson says. “We’re hoping that we’re able to have some open and honest conversations about that because once things start to go back to normal, that’s not true for everybody. So we want to open up and hear and talk with the community.”

The Unity Picnic will be the third event in the “Live Well @ Your Library: Restoration,” an initiative from Madison Public Library that has been working to listen to the community and uplift BIPOC voices and practitioners.

“I think it was cool that the library felt like this was something where we could all come together and show the community that we can work together,” Pearson says. “That’s something for me that’s important. That these two groups don’t always have to be doing things by themselves. We can work and collaborate with each other and hopefully, the community will see this Black/Latino unity and realize that they can come together, too, and work for the better good.”

Black/Latino Unity Picnic founders and organizers Alex Gillis and Clarissa Pearson (Photo by A. David Dahmer)

Pearson says that there are many common struggles facing Black and Latino workers whether it be looking for better working conditions, housing, employment or living conditions in neighborhoods.

“I think there is a real need to listen to the people who are in the community; the people who are really affected by all of these issues and living this life day to day,” she says. “These are the people who are not being asked the questions and are kind of being overlooked and other people are answering for them. We really want to hear those voices.”

La Plaza Market from the Latino Chamber of Commerce will be open at Penn Park from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. There will also be food carts as part of the “Carts in the Parks” program of the Latino Chamber.

“It’s an honor to share this space with the Madison Public Library and the Black & Latino Unity Project to offer the wonderful opportunity for the community to interact in wellness opportunities,” said Jessica Cavazos, president of the Latino Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “Being able to discuss wellness is extremely important within our community, and what better way to engage in this topic than through interactive workshops and live music, all while supporting local vendors and businesses.” 

The annual Black/Latino Unity Picnic will have Spanish/English “Storytimes on the Spot” with Savannah C., youth librarian at Goodman South Madison Library; one-on-one Reiki sessions with Takeyla Benton; a book signing with local author Denise Harnett, and much more.

“This event is going to be a lot of fun. We are really looking forward to it,” Pearson says. “I hope the weather cooperates, as well. If not, we have tents and shelters. But we are definitely looking forward to this event. This is the 13th year and I hope that the event, for many people, brings back some normality that they’ve been missing because of the pandemic.”