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Juneteenth Jubilee: Third annual celebration of Black history returns to downtown Fayetteville

By Kate Griffin, posted 1 month ago
Graphic courtesy of CSDD

The Cool Spring Downtown District, sponsored by the City of Fayetteville, is proud to announce the third annual Juneteenth Jubilee: Their Wildest Dreams. Starting in 2021 after President Biden’s federalization of Juneteenth as an official holiday, the Juneteenth Jubilee is spotlighting and uplifting local Black talent and voices through the celebration.
“It was an opportunity to bring that to light to the community for the folks who had already been celebrating it with their families for years and folks who had no idea what it was and really just providing an opportunity to educate folks on that history,” said Ashanti Bennett, director of special projects for Cool Spring Downtown District, and lead curator for the two major city-sponsored events: the Juneteenth Jubilee and the New Year’s Eve Night Circus.

This Juneteenth Jubilee honors the day June 19 in 1865 when the last administration of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, the last state in confederacy to end slavery. 

Fayetteville joins in celebrating this monumental step towards freedom with a huge celebration in the heart of downtown, including music, dancing, food, education and showcasing the talent, accomplishments, and artistry of Black people, both local and famous. The theme itself, “Their Wildest Dreams” also honors a legacy.
“[It] is a piece of a larger quote that people may have seen out there on merchandise and social media,” said Bennett. “It is the idea that we, the current generation of Black Americans in the country, are our ancestors' wildest dreams. We are in a space living a life setting accomplishments and achievements that our ancestors may have hoped for and dreamed for but did not get to see themselves.”

The Jubilee will take place in downtown Fayetteville on Saturday, June 15 from 1-9 p.m., with music on the District Vibe stage, services offered by nonprofits and vendors lining the streets offering a wide range of gifts, food and exciting activities for all to enjoy.

“What we wanted to do was create this joyous celebration that really does uplift the contributions of Black Americans to the US not just in history, but today as well, including contributors from Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the surrounding area really just leaning into that idea of coming from a darker chapter in our history and all of the progress that has been made since then and that we will continue to push forward,” said Bennett.

Probably the most anticipated guests of the Juneteenth Jubilee are Pierce Freelon and Skip Marley, who will be working the stage with their musical expertise.

“Pierce works with music history to teach Black history and he works a lot with youth, so what he’s going to do on stage is kind of take us through a musical journey of Black history from the earliest stages,” said Bennett. “Skip Marley is carrying on in the tradition of his family, he’s a reggae artist, and will be bringing a lot of that sound but he is also a little bit more hip hop and pop. He’s developed his craft along the way following in the footsteps with the rest of his incredibly musically talented family.”

In addition to the stellar lineup of headliners hitting the stage are some local favorites handpicked by the CSDD team to keep the good vibes going all day long.

Along with the vendor fair, there will be non-partisan voting registration, the Fredrick Douglass Foundation will be present, and health and wellness opportunities like the Vision Screening Project will also be available. The Can-Do Coldwell Trolley in downtown Fayetteville will be running 30 minute tours focusing on the local history and achievements of Black people in Fayetteville of the past. The historical trolley tour was created by Archivist Nicole Young St. Leone and history professor Charles Anderson of Fayetteville State University.

Additional activities include a student art show to showcase the talent of artists in Fayetteville run by FSU Professor of Fine Arts and CSDD Board Member Dwight Smith. Authors of Fayetteville will be highlighted with a book fair made possible by a partnership with the Cumberland County Library and The Wanted Outlaws, an all Black local equestrian group, will be present to educate the public on horse care and the importance of equine therapy.

“Events like these don’t happen in a vacuum, it is definitely not done by magic elves, we always need volunteers,” said Bennett. Business owners can get in on the action promoting their presence by reaching out at the website, www.downtownfayetteville. com for volunteer and partnership and vendor information and vendor opportunities. Interested parties can also email at info@coolspringfay.org.

Mark your calendars for the Juneteenth Jubilee! Downtown Fayetteville will be alive with celebration and artistry all day, so come on down, find a new favorite song, learn something new and have a good time.

“It reminds me why I do what I do, I do it to bring joy to people’s lives,” said Bennett. “One of the things I’m most proud of is we work hard to encourage and design events that everyone feels welcome at, and when I look at our events, I see the full diversity of our community doing just that. That makes every late night email and last minute run to the store worth it, because it’s all about the joy.”

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