Los Angeles – Black Arts Los Angeles, in honor of Leimert Park Rising presented the 9th Annual Juneteenth Heritage Festival, celebrating National Black Independence Day, also known as Freedom Day. The celebration was held on Saturday, June 16, 2018.
Attendees were greeted at the festival with cool temperatures and a slight breeze. The diverse crowd who gathered for this historic celebration, brightened up the day with their beautiful smiles and spirits as they walked up and down Degnan Blvd., and 43rd Street.
The Juneteenth Heritage Festival, corrections, Black Independence Day featured a variety of food trucks, resource booth to raise our understanding, consciousness through information and education. The celebration also featured artists, arts and crafts for children and face paintings. Young adults and adults participated in games of Chess and dominoes. The main stage consisted of talented line-up of entertainment.
The Juneteenth Celebration dates back to June 19, 1865, when slaves in Southern states learned that they were free with the arrival General Granger in Galveston, Texas with General Order No. 3. This was 2 and half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.
The Black Independence Day Festival in Los Angeles was just one of many celebration taking place simultaneously all across the United States on Saturday, June 16th. Forty five states currently recognize Juneteenth as an official Holiday.
The celebration was up and running when I arrived just in time to hear Mollie Bell, local community activist Straight Outta Compton. Mollie Bell was just one of many speakers to grace the stage to share words of wisdom about our past and our current state, and to offer food for thought as our African American community continues to grow and move forward. Former Los Angeles City Councilmember Robert C. Farrell, attorney Jaaye Person-Lynn, Phil Wilkes Fixico, member of the Los Angeles Chapter of Buffalo Soldiers 9th and 10th Horse Cavalry, Seminole Negro Indian Scout, addressed the captivated audience.
Five of our beautiful African queens dressed up in period costumes for a Fashion Show entitled Women of the 1800’s.
The Juneteenth Heritage Festival, Black Independence Day Celebration featured a wonderful day long live entertainment in the form of poetry and music. The Powell Family Affair is a family of Father on keyboards/vocals and his daughter and son on vocals. Nu Skool sings Old School led by Brandy Sanders. Brandy Sanders is a live entertainment producer, musical director and humanitarian. These talented youth SANG!, their hearts out, followed by and amazing dance performance by Camden, who also happens to be a model, actor, author, and entertainer.
AT&T was on site as a corporate sponsor. Mr. Andrew Washington was the lucky winner of the Meet and Greet with Snoop Dogg at the upcoming BET Awards show at LA LIVE!
African Soul International led by Dr. Jewel Jackson showcased an energetic program of African dancing and drumming to the delight of the crowd. Chester Whitmore and the LA Swing Posse took the crowd and I down memory lane with dance routines of the Swing era that are still popular today among all ages.
Ronnet Shadon of Reachers United recited an original poem entitled “Introduction” which is a powerful poem into her journey to self awareness.
Arnae Batson & The Voices of Juneteenth joyfully and jubilantly entertained the crowd with their heavenly voices. The highlight was their cover of “Hell You Talmbout” by Janelle Monae, from The Electric Lady CD, released in 2013.
This exciting line-up of entertainment continued with The Oracle-Denise L. Cook who performed “I’m the One,” “She Has a Migraine Today,” and closed her set with “Freedom” that theme song for the Juneteenth, Black Independence Day Celebration. The show continued with Keba, and the infectious rhythms of Reggae served up wonderfully by Ladee Dred who performed “Makeshift Memorial,” “I’m Crying,” and “Give Thanks and Praise.” Jennifer Johns had the crowd vibing with her during her time in the spotlight.
The day concluded with an amazing set of music. Attendees were rewarded with a top-notched sounds of DJ Qwestcoast, DJ Battlecat & The G-Funk All-Stars featuring Jairus ‘J-MO’ Mozee followed by a set of Neo-soul tunes provided by the headliner Georgia Ann Muldrow. Ms. Muldrow is a Los Angeles based Neo-soul singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. Georgia Ann Muldrow has been described as “one of the most daring and important artist of her time.” (All Music).
The 2018 Black Independence Day Celebration is further proof of Leimert Park Rising. The 2019 Black Independence Day Celebration will be celebrating a major milestone. The Black Arts Los Angeles, organizers of the 10th Anniversary celebration promises to pull out all of the stops for another memorable festival.
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based music reviewer, writer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]