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Efforts to bring Black Prides together fail: Two events will both take place same weekend
by Karen Hawkins

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Despite efforts at reconciliation and unification, Chicago's competing Black Pride events will both take place on the same weekend this year, bringing to three the number of large-scale African-American GLBT summer gatherings.

Windy City Black LGBT Pride and the three-year-old Chicago Black Pride are both set for the weekend before July 4, joining the well-established Belmont Rocks, a festival scheduled to take place after the Pride Parade on June 24.

The leadership of Windy City Black Pride-;Chairperson Thayer Johnson and Assistant Chairs Kevin Tindell and Pat McCombs-;were all former executive committee members of Chicago Black Pride. Their break with Chicago Black Pride, and its leader, Ken Pickens, took place after last year's event.

In a letter dated Aug. 8, 2000, Pickens asked the three to step down from their volunteer positions, citing dissatisfaction with their performance as committee members.

The three issued a resignation letter Sept. 25, two days after holding their first public meeting to form a new Pride organization.

Both in their resignation letter and at their public meeting, the three said that one reason for the split was that Chicago Black Pride's leadership didn't keep committee members adequately informed of the event's financial status. It is a claim Pickens denies.

In a letter to WCT, Chicago Black Pride leaders said, "Not one time has any of the three people mention they did not call, E-mail or wrote Kenneth Pickens regarding any financial concerns. They did not even phone the Treasurer. Kenneth Pickens was aware of their concerns through other parties. A summary financial report was made for them, and a meeting was call to explain every detail of it about rumors. Kenneth showed them every check that came in with a copy of the deposit slip. They did not have any problems or concerns at that meeting."

The letter goes on to say, "When our Treasurer financial report is completed, it would be available to anyone. Our organization does not have anything to hide."

Pickens has also been angered by the reported claim that Windy City Pride is a member of the Washington, D.C.-based International Federation of Black Prides, an organization for which he is the vice president. Windy City Pride is not in the Federation, and Federation President Earl Fowlkes attributed the misinformation given by the group to a misunderstanding.

In late October of last year, Fowlkes came into town to mediate a meeting between the two organizations, hopeful that a settlement could be reached and just one Pride event could be agreed upon.

That meeting, however, was not successful.

"I think Earl really did try to bring us together," Johnson said.

"It didn't work out. That's real simple," Pickens said.

Now that it is clear no settlement will be reached, both organizations have moved on with their summer plans.

Chicago Black Pride has held several fundraising events, and Windy City Pride has filed incorporation papers with the state of Illinois. Windy City Pride has also secured a fiduciary agent in the Minority Outreach Intervention Project, Johnson said.

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