Updated: Jun 8, 2021
Free Juneteenth Event Combines Black Art, Culture & Civics
The Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC) will be hosting the Juneteenth on Ali Baba Avenue Festival on Saturday, June 19, 2021 from 4 to 9pm. The free event combines art and entertainment with workshops and interactive displays, commemorating the ongoing pursuit of Black liberation. Dr. Joanne Hyppolite, a curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, will lead a historic remembrance of the Emancipation Proclamation during the event, and attendees will enjoy food, contests, performances and art in celebration of Black culture. The festivities will take place inside the ARC and on the surrounding grounds, at 675 Ali Baba Avenue, in downtown Opa-locka.
Juneteenth celebrations date back to 1865, when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached the most remote areas of the United States more than two years after it became law. While most Juneteenth celebrations have been local traditions, national conversations around racial equity and social justice have made Juneteenth observations more popular. In the last several years, many states and municipalities have even declared official Juneteenth holidays, as Miami-Dade County did this year.
“Juneteenth is about more than just commemorating the end of slavery. It’s about celebrating and enacting Black liberation,” said OLCDC Chief Operating Officer Nikisha Williams. “At its core, OLCDC’s mission is to liberate Black and brown people socially, economically, and politically, and a Juneteenth festival is the perfect way to celebrate that.”
Along with entertainment, the OLCDC event also includes civic activities designed to educate community members on the history of Juneteenth, financial empowerment and entrepreneurship. Attendees will also be able to explore their family trees in genealogy workshops led by Dr. Ramona La Roche, a cultural heritage expert from the Ft. Lauderdale-based African American Research Library and Cultural Center.
“Our vision for this event goes beyond just entertaining the community. We want it to be a true celebration of Black culture,” said OLCDC Arts Manager Adrienne Chadwick. “Everything from the exhibition inside the ARC to the merchandise being sold by the vendors is an opportunity to showcase how Black creativity fuels our local community and our society as a whole.”
Inside the ARC, a 4,000 square-foot multipurpose arts space, the gallery will feature Casting Shadow | Framing Histories, a visual art exhibition presenting counter-narratives of Black culture and struggle. The exhibit is curated by Tumelo Mosaka and features artists Terence Price II, Carrington Ware, and Keisha Rae Witherspoon. Attendees may also participate in an interactive art installation as they stand on the sculpture Monument/Plinth/Stoop by George Sanchez Calderon and in front of Dream Diversely by Laura Marsh, briefly becoming their own monument and a representation of a more diverse society.
Performances will be held on a mainstage in the ARC’s outdoor courtyard throughout the event, featuring spoken word by Art Prevails Project and its founder Darius Daughtry, and music by the BLCK Family Freedom Sessions organized by Rashaud Michel. Food trucks and a curated selection of local Black vendors will also be stationed throughout the courtyard.
A fun addition to the event includes a Retro Family Reunion T-Shirt Competition. Prizes will be awarded for the most unique design, the family showing the most consecutive years, and the most represented family. To participate, guests should sign up for the contest at the event check-in table and wear their shirts during the event.
Juneteenth on Ali Baba Ave is made possible in part by the support of several funding and programming partners. Grant funding was contributed by Florida Humanities, Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs, The Miami Foundation, and the National Endowment of the Arts, with additional in-kind support provided by the City of Opa-locka.
All guests will be required to wear masks for indoor activities and are asked to observe social distancing as much as possible. During outdoor activities, masks are optional for persons who are fully vaccinated while non-fully vaccinated persons will be required to wear their masks outdoors and to observe social distancing rules.
For more event information, including a full list of performers, vendors and partners, visit the OLCDC website at olcdc.org/juneteenth. Volunteer opportunities are also available, with community service hours offered to students as needed. Complete the sign-up form at http://bit.ly/junevolunteer to donate your time.
About The Opa-locka Community Development Corporation
The Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC) was established in 1980 as a nonprofit community development corporation in order to address the distressed unemployment conditions, particularly in the Opa-locka and North Dade County, Florida, communities. Its mission is to build a strong ecosystem that supports under-resourced communities in creating an equitable and sustainable economy. For more information about OLCDC, please visit www.olcdc.org.