The Westside Historical Society and Austin Weekly News co-sponsored the 2013 Juneteenth Festival at The Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center, 5820 W. Chicago Ave., from June 14 to the 16. The three-day event included a parade, gospel celebration, as well as stage performances and local merchant vendors.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Slaves in Texas were not informed of their freedom until two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation bill. It was around June 19th, they received this information dubbing the title “Juneteenth”. June is also black music month so every year around the country African-Americans take part in celebrating this significant event with entertainment and more.
Local known poet, Awthentik Poetry, took the stage as the host and recited one of her original pieces. Performances were done by residents of the community and included dance, spoken word, and musical performances. Hip-hop artist and community activist, Che “Rhymefest” Smith, attended the festival and shared a few word of wisdom with audience members.
“What’s wrong with our communities is the lack of love; it’s the lack of forgiveness. Why you have bad politicians? Because they don’t love the community that they’re working in; they look at themselves as legislatives and not advocates. You have to love the people and love the community that you are advocating for.” Smith also said that he is working on a new song and performed a bit of it a capella for the crowd.
A group of ladies who call themselves the Power Ladies did a praise dance performance to the current gospel hit, “Break every Chain”. Known Chicago artists from the 90s era, D.A. Smart performed a song he wrote called, “Black People Aint Prejudice, We Just mad”, and had the crowd in agreement with his views on current-day issues in connection to historical events in the black communities.
Black business-owners set-up booths and sold their work. A smoothie booth called, “Cool N Smooth” sold refreshing smoothies at reasonable prices using fresh fruits. There was also a fashion show given by a designer who goes by the name, Parijone’ of Parijone’ Designs located at 5947 W. Chicago Ave.
The event started in the early morning and lasted until late that night. The community came and went as entertainment rotated the stage.