By Ed Mickens
Think cultural life in Prescott comes in only one color? Think again. A full-day celebration on Sunday, February 24, will highlight and explore some of the richly creative expressions of being black, here in the Prescott area and around the world. There will be music, dance, theatre, photography and poetry. Presentations on the history of African-American art, and on the role art has played in healing within the community. There will be a table for children to practice the painting of traditional images and symbols. There will be jewelry and handcrafted dashikis, as well as a look at the more distinctly modern, urban artform of skating.
The opening ceremony at 11am should set the tone memorably: a welcome and intention by Mama Charlotte, the American-born poet, musician and activist who has lived the past four decades in Tanzania. And as the day approaches closing at 6pm, renowned gospel singer Nicosia Garrison will take the floor and rouse the spirit.
The Festival is presented by Prescott UMOJA (“Unity”), a growing, grass-roots network of black people in the greater Prescott area. “We didn’t want to limit ourselves by defining art forms, or how black people express themselves creatively,” says Brittini Ward, one of the Festival organizers. “We want to show that blackness isn’t binary—it’s across the board. And the message we want to share with all of Prescott is simple: We are here. This is what we can do.”
A more detailed schedule for the packed day in between will be posted on the Prescott UMOJA Facebook page, if you’re interested specifically in the dance recital, the lectures, or the original play presented by Prescott College students.
Admission to the Prescott Black Arts Festival is free, although donations will be gratefully accepted. And it’s not too late for sponsors or donors who want to support this new venture. Contact PrescottUMOJA@gmail.com.
Prescott Black Arts Festival
Sunday, February 24, 2019, 11am-6pm
Sam Hill Art Gallery, 232 Granite St. Prescott, AZ