By Lena Foster

The MLK Food Park brings back an authentic pop-up experience for black businesses and park attendees to congregate, network, and enjoy culture and creativity. 

“The food park is essentially a safe space that not only allows people to come and go but also promotes black businesses,” Desiree Powell, creator of The MLK Food Park, said. 

This event creates an open atmosphere for park goers to stop and engage as well as support local businesses and organizations. Various food trucks and vendors came together at Fair Park this past Sunday for the continuation of The MLK Food Park. 

The experience was first held in April 2021 and lasted for approximately one month in an empty lot. Powell’s organization Do Right By The Streets (DRBTS) took over as the leading organization for the event and underwent a few phases to get to where it is now. The MLK Food Park gained access to their new home Fair Park, a place that once displaced African-American families and residents.

“This has been a partnership to help change the narrative at Fair Park,” Powell said. “A big part of this partnership was having Fair Park do their part as far as opening up to the community and really show them that they belong here.”

Yazzi Shabazz, founder of Yazzi Cakes, was selling her vegan-styled baked goods at the event and has been a part of the MLK Food Truck and Powell’s growth since the beginning. She was involved in the first showing of this pop-up experience. 

“She has gained a lot more attention and popularity, and I am super proud,” Shabazz said. 

Each small business that participated brought a diverse number of products and services ranging from vegan sweets and jewelry to books and herbal formulas.

Zeni Demissie of Infused by Zen

Zeni Demissie, founder of Infused by Zen, started her herbal medicine and oils business with her mother who is also a gardener and herbalist like herself. She specializes in crafting natural and spiritual items as well as honoring ancestral remembrance. Demissie first connected with Powell in south Dallas during one of the previous hosting of the event. 

“Before I started this business, I hadn’t really seen a lot of other Black entrepreneurs or small businesses in Dallas doing this work, so just being able to have this space to thrive and be together and do this work alongside each other just feels really fulfilling,” Demissie said.

Demissie shared her experience with the Ethiopian market and how there were markets as such all throughout Africa. 

“We are people that come from a legacy of entrepreneurship. Black people can do any sort of business they want to do,” Demissie said. “Seeing other people like you do this work invites you and gives you permission to also do this work.”

Not only did park attendees support the businesses but the vendors supported each other as well. 

Rita’s Italian Ice of Arlington and Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food

Food trucks such as Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food, HopeBoy’s Kitchen, and Calio’s Tacos provided attendees with many food options and a sitting area for socializing and leisure. 

ZZ’s Ice Cream Puffs and Rita’s Italian Ice of Arlington served cold,sweet delights to patrons in the midst of the Sunday heat as well. 

Jennifer Rangel brought her partner and mother to the event and got to experience interactive moments with the vendors with testing the various essential oils. She also supported vendors by buying vegan cupcakes and books from Elijah Taylor, a teacher selling children’s books at the event. 

“I’m just excited to see how it’s going to continue to grow,” Rangel said. 

The MLK Food Park intends to continue this experience July 10, 24, and 31 at Fair Park.