Inside Chicago’s Largest Black Block Party: Silver Room Block Party
By Parker Diakite
There are plenty of festivals happening throughout Chicago all summer long but the Silver Room Sound Block Party is an institution for residents across Hyde Park and surrounding neighborhoods.
The block party started in 2002 by The Silver Room owner, Eric Williams, who was fed up with the lack of diversity from other festivals in the city.
“It started on the North Side as a response to a lack of diversity, in my opinion, of festivals on the North Side,” Williams told the Chicago Tribune. “I was on the board of one of the chambers of commerce and I was asking for different kinds of people, that were more representative of the city and they weren’t really having it. And so I said, I’ll start my own thing.”
What was once a small gathering for friends and family of a few hundred people is now a vibrant and diverse neighborhood gathering that attracts tens of thousands of people to hear Chicago’s up and coming artists.
It’s not just about music. The festival is an extension of Williams’ store the Silver Room, located on 1506 E. 53rd Street. When you walk into the retail space, you immediately feel a joyful vibe where black culture is celebrated through art, fashion, and community.
What you’ll also find when entering the store is a calendar full of events happening in the community, including yoga, political rallies, and fundraisers.
“Most of the things we do are for the customers we have — so the store is our most interactive space,” Williams told Chicago Tribune. “What we do is not just us, it’s a collaboration — the customers, the family, the friends, the community. The block party to me is a culmination of all the things we do throughout the year. We have a whole calendar of stuff. People talk about the block party all the time and I say that’s important, but to me, the calendar is in some ways more important because this is what builds to the one-day thing.”
Now in it’s 16th year, the festival will be held on July 20 from 12 to 10 p.m.
The event is free to attend but donations are accepted upon entering.