2nd ‘BBQ ‘n While Black’ event at Oakland’s Lake Merritt returns ‘this summer’

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It’s been a little more than a year since the world was first introduced to “BBQ Becky” right here in the Bay Area. 

It all started with a barbecue at Lake Merritt in Oakland. 

We first told you about it last May — police were called to the lake because of a dispute on where people can set up their charcoal grills. 

The woman who was caught on cell phone video calling the police on the two men having a barbecue gained notoriety and thus received the nickname “BBQ Becky.”

According to an official Oakland Park and Rec map of Lake Merritt, there are six designated barbecue locations, three stationary charcoal locations, and three non-charcoal portable grill locations. 

The two men were charcoal grilling in a non-charcoal grilling location, but the act of calling the police on this incident spurred conversations nationwide on whether or not it was the right thing to do. 

But a new movement was born from this incident. 

Last year, hundreds of people packed Lake Meritt for the first “BBQ’n While Black” event, a celebration of inclusivity that featured food, music, and dancing. 

“What started out as a response to racial injustice has quickly ballooned into a clarion call for love, community, and culture. BBQWB is about people of all races, genders, and places of origin coming together in the spirit of what we call the Real Oakland! We are beyond excited for the second annual BBQWB to lift up the Oakland that we’ve always known and loved, not the one depicted in last year’s media sweep. The Real Oakland; the city of diversity, activism, art, AND GOOD FOOD!” a GoFundMe page for the event this year reads. 

The second annual “BBQ’n While Black’ is happening “this summer,” but no specific date has been announced. 

According to the GoFundMe page, the community is trying to raise $10,000 “to stay in compliance and consideration of all city fees and ordinances [due to the growing size and impact of this event].”

“Last year’s response was an outpouring of community engagement and this year there is a need for financial support so that we can continue to serve the city the “soul food” it desires!” Jhamel Robinson writes. 

Learn more about the event here. 

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