Juneteenth Celebration will return this year with all live and in-person events June 16-18 in Winston-Salem.
The celebration, presented by Triad Cultural Arts, will culminate in an all-day festival in Biotech Place and Bailey Park on June 18. Activities will include live entertainment, events for children, food and panel discussions.
This year’s theme for the Juneteenth Celebration is “Black Health and Wellness: Healing Rituals & Traditions.”
In keeping with that theme, The Breathing Room will conduct mini yoga sessions between performances on the main stage from 1 to 4 p.m. at the festival.
“We meshed our Juneteenth activities into the 2022 ASALH (Association for the Study of African American Life and History) Black History month theme — “Black Health and Wellness” — so that we could be a part of a national voice on important concerns that merits the public’s attention,” said Cheryl Harry, director of Triad Cultural Arts. “As a result, our art exhibition will feature medical professionals from the Twin City Medical Society who are providing diversity in healthcare as an intentional means to address health disparities.
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“The health panel will address having an intention in bringing diversifying medical staffs. We will have several health and wellness exhibitors, ranging from a holistic birth doula to beauty and wellness herbal products.”
Presenting partners for the celebration are Food Lion and the City of Winston-Salem.
Activities will start with an opening reception of an art exhibition from 6 to 8 p.m. June 16 in the Main Gallery at Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts at 251 N. Spruce St. The exhibition, a partnership between Triad Cultural Arts and Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, is called “The Wellness Keepers.” It celebrates Black healthcare professionals of past and present through art, photography and their narratives. Other viewing dates for the exhibition are July 16-23.
New to the celebration this year is the Queen Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant at 7 p.m. June 17 at Paisley IB Magnet School. Thirteen junior high school girls will compete for a four-year renewable tuition scholarship to a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Talitha Vickers, former WXII news anchor, will host the culturally based theatrical production.
On June 18, the Juneteenth Festival will feature a variety of events inside Biotech Place, 575 Patterson Ave., and outside in Bailey Park, 445 Patterson Ave., in Innovation Quarter.
Biotech Place will host events from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., including performances, panel discussions and heritage demonstrations. Bailey Park events will run from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and include vendors, displays, music and food.
P-Funk Connection described by Harry as “an Atlanta-based, old school band that has the DNA of Mr. George Clinton, of Parliament Funkadelic” will headline the entertainment. The band will hit the stage at 6 p.m.
More than 80 wellness, merchandise and nonprofit exhibitors and vendors will participate, including food trucks with soul food menu items.
Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and umbrellas.
The Black Health Panel Discussion, sponsored by Atrium Health, will start at 2 p.m. at Biotech Place at the festival June 18. The topic is “Workforce Diversity: Reducing Disparities through an Intentional Focus.”
The panelists are Fernando G. Little, enterprise chief diversity officer for Atrium Health and Kayla Mays, doctor of medicine candidate. Dr. Brenda Latham-Sadler, senior associate dean for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion and associate professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, is the moderator.
The panel discussion objectives are reducing financial barriers to education and training, intentional development of pathways for minority students, and methods of academic support and professional development of students in healthcare careers.
“Atrium Health’s Diversity Equity & Inclusion bold goal is aimed at achieving transformative equity in healthcare, leadership, workforce, learners and community,” said Jakki Opollo, vice president of Talent Initiatives and regional chief diversity officer for Wake Forest Baptist. “We want our workforce, leadership and learner population to reflect the patient population that we serve. To this end, we have specific strategies and tactics aimed at ensuring equitable opportunities for representation in leadership, workforce, learning, recruitment, retention and pipelines for all.”
Especially for kids
In the youth area inside Biotech Place, Delta Arts Center will provide crafts activities, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will have children’s songs, a Juneteenth Tea Party and a special painting project of T-shirts that will be shipped out to different countries by the Soles 4 Souls organization.
Also, Amir Alexander, health professional and author, will read from her book, “Gio’s Heart,” which shares real lessons learned through a challenging ICU experience and journey with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS).
Other children’s activities will include face painting, bingo, African movement crowd participation and stepping demo crowd participation.
An array of entertainment will be offered on three stages at the festival. They include Piney Grove Baptist Church Choir, Deborah Patterson, Renaissance Choir, Greater Vision Company, Quick Image Band, Otesha Creative Arts Ensemble, Band Clazz and Big Ron Hunter.
Hunter, often called “the world’s happiest blues man,” has been entertaining at the festival for years. He will perform blues and old-time gospel songs at 2 p.m. on the outside stage at Bailey Park.
He said he will certainly play two of his favorite gospel songs — “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me” and “You’ve Got to Move.”
He likes to play happy blues songs.
“A blues song I’m going to play is called ‘The Things I Used to Do’,” Hunter said bursting into a hearty laugh. “It’s a crazy blues song … It’s crazy, but it’s a happy blues song.”
Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and became a federal holiday in 2021.
“Juneteenth, the country’s longest-running observance of the abolition of slavery, speaks to the core values of our nation — liberty and justice for all,” Harry said.
“I agree with journalist Candice Harrison who stated that holidays ‘don’t merely testify to the values of the nation. They ingrain those values in us. They teach us who and what matters, what to remember and what to forget.’”