Juneteenth festival celebrates cultural arts in Leimert Park

More than 150 years after enslaved Texans heard the official news of their freedom following the end of the Civil War, Americans commemorated the new federal holiday of June 19 with hundreds of parades, picnics, barbecues and special shows.

In the Crenshaw/Leimert Park community, the holiday was celebrated with a variety of cultural arts showcasing black culture. Juneteenth: A Classical Music and Dance Festival at the Lula Washington Dance Theater was a day-long celebration that included dance, classical and jazz music, poetry, and a drum performance.

“It may have taken black people two years to hear about emancipation, but when they did, they started celebrating,” said Community Build president Robert Sausedo, one of the coordinating organizations. the festival, referring to the President’s belated announcement. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 ending slavery. “Although President Biden made Juneteenth an official federal holiday in 2021, the truth is that we’ve been celebrating unofficially for over a hundred years.”

An audience of over 400 gathered to enjoy the free outdoor festival which opened with a free barbecue lunch. The celebration included a first performance by the Lula Washington Dance Theater on the composition of “Pages from Negro History” by African-American composer William Grant Still. A musical ensemble hosted by the Fernando Pullum Youth Jazz Orchestra included classical and jazz standards. World Stage executive director and jazz singer Dwight Trible wowed the audience with an eclectic performance. Dale Madison presented a dramatic reading of poet Gwendolyn Brooks’ Primer for Blacks, which speaks to the need for black people to come to terms with their heritage. The Futo Toro Drum Ensemble delivered West African folk rhythms.

Although Juneteenth has been officially recognized as a federal holiday, only 24 states and the District of Columbia have legally recognized Juneteenth as a holiday in 2022 – meaning state government offices have been closed and State employees received a paid day off, according to a Pew Research Center. analysis.

Although the state of California has yet to make Juneteenth a paid holiday for state employees, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for state employees. city ​​employees.

Community building. Inc. Vice President, Government Relations and Arts Programs and Juneteenth Festival Producer Albert Lord congratulated the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti for their recognition of Juneteenth and their move toward inclusivity and racial equality .

“In the words of the mayor, this is a decision to work within our civic family to minimize bias, eradicate racism and do what we can to try to bring our people together,” Lord said.

The festival has been recognized by municipal and federal authorities. The City of Los Angeles Executive Director of the Los Angeles Department of Human Rights and Equity, Capri Maddox, honored Robert Sausedo and Albert Lord with the June 19 Proclamation of Mayors. U.S. Rep. Karen Bass District Manager Jacqueline Hamilton presented festival organizers with certificates, including the June 19 presidential proclamation from the White House.

Lord produced the event as part of the African American Heritage Month Legacy Project (AAHMLP). The Juneteenth festival is its third AAHMLP curation highlighting black contributions to the creative economy and American culture. Previous projects have included a traveling pop-up exhibit of photos and memorabilia from African-American history, including a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, and “Blacks in Cinema,” a photo exhibit showcasing the contribution African Americans in Hollywood.

Juneteenth: A classical music and dance festival was made possible with support from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Office of Marqueece Harris-Dawson, District 8 Council; the office of Curren Price, Municipal District 9; the office of Los Angeles City Council President Emeritus Herb Wesson, Council District 10; and the Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Council.

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