HOUSTON–Juneteenth is the oldest holiday acknowledging the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas during the year of 1865.
In honor of Juneteenth, the Houston chapter of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) hosted a jamming Juneteenth music and freedom festival.
The festival took place on Saturday, June 21 in the AAPDEP 5th Ward Uhuru Garden.
Indeed, this was probably the liveliest Juneteenth event in Houston!
The efforts of all the organizers, in particular Omowale Kefing, generously paid it forward.
The community left the festival full of fire, knowledgeable of our movement and thirsty for more.
In addition to this, new comrades joined the movement as members.
Once the festival opened, there was never a dull moment. The stage continuously hosted a bevy of talent.
The crowd was able to “Tighten Up” to the tune of Houston’s own legendary Archie Bell of Archie Bell and the Drells.
Although Archie Bell lit up the stage as always, his beautiful toddler granddaughter captured the hearts of the audience as she performed on stage with Archie Bell.
After a powerful opening by Omowale Kefing, the lovely Mother Aja Zola opened the ceremony with libations to the ancestors.
Mr. Las Vegas delivered a prized package of “oldies but goodies” that compelled the audience to swing-out, toe-tap and slow-drag.
The range of performers was quite suitable for all ages and genres of music.
12-year-old Yong Tonka performed an encouraging song for the youth entitled, “I Can Be President.”
O.G. Penguin of San Antonio rocked the stage with positive Hip Hop music.
Author and songwriter Trete Lo performed with grace and style, and the soulful violinist, Jonell certainly did not disappoint with her lovely rendition of the gospel hit by Isarel Hougton, “Moving Forward.”
Ali York, one of the speakers for the evening, shared an uplifting message for the community and inspired the community to think positively.
The Master of Ceremony, Dujan “Detroit” Harris and Mistress of Ceremony, Ashira Adwoa kept the continuity of the show upbeat and lively to the very end.
Attendees were able to peruse and saunter through the garden as Jody Burnett picked a bushel of okra, corn and peas while the show was in full swing.
A big Uhuru thanks goes out to the grand Jackie Miller, the vendor organizer who recruited 17 vendors with an array of items and food for everyone’s purchasing pleasure.
Another special note and thanks should also be given to the Idiginis Reggae Band who played into the night and gave us all the feeling of being in Jamaica. Yea Mon!
The festival culminated with a barefooted African dance circle around community elder, Ephfran (Pot) Boyd.
Thank you all!
On behalf of AAPDEP and AAPDEP Houston, we would like to sincerely thank the following people who made this event not only an awesome and memorable success, but also possible:
Songstress Justice Belle, Junior and Black McHenry for use of their property for the garden, and the Brill Street neighbors who made their driveways and property available for people to park.
Danny Russo, who provided us with a world-class sound system, Mr. Livingston, who provided the stage, Archie Bell, his wife Juanita and their granddaughter.
O.G. Penguin, Mr. Las Vegas, Young Tonka, Idiginis, Trete Lo,Tenacious, and Tracy Vigilance, How Worthy Are You T- Shirts, IM HAPiLiNapi, and JMarie Designs.
We want to also thank Sylvia Price for her work at postering the community, and Demetra Brown for her foot-stomping gospel performance.
A special thanks to AAPDEP members Aja Zola, Aaron Ray, Joe Holley, Jesse Carldwell (who worked especially hard), Jody Burnett, Karen Berry and the host of neighbors and friends of AAPDEP who made this a success.
This includes Tommy Wesley and Chase Walker who handled all the parking and sanitation needs throughout the day.
Indeed, it is imperative to mention the extraordinary work of Omowale Kefing who existed as a primary organizer of the festival.
Mostly, we want to thank the people for coming out to join us in this auspicious occasion and celebration of the significance of Juneteenth and what freedom means.