Happening this weekend, the oldest festival in the city, once considered one of the largest community festivals in the United States…
The Harambee Black Arts Festival kicks off its 51st anniversary celebration with the Afro Nubian Parade, at 6 p.m. Aug. 3. That’s just the start of many events that will take place in the heart of Homewood focused around Kelly Street and N. Homewood Avenue.
For the past six weeks students from the East End, participants in the Allegheny County, City of Pittsburgh and Partner4Work 2018 Learn & Earn summer youth employment program have been working to market and promote the event. The teens are seven of approximately 136 participants employed by the Homewood Children’s Village in 24 worksites throughout Homewood and other parts of the East End. Their responsibilities have included, designing flyers, writing, creating the beats and recording a commercial now airing on WAMO-FM (100.1), conducting interviews concerning the Harambee, writing the feature article for the Harambee program booklet, conducting the Harambee Festival social media campaign, designing mini-videos and assisting in planning for the parade.
Learn & Earn students are Xavier Davis, 16, from Allderdice High School; Marquise St. Juilen-Givner, 16, of Westinghouse; Shaniya Hogan, 14, from Allderdice; Nyiah Lance, 14, from Oakland Catholic; Day’Mear Moore, 15, from Imani Christian Academy; Amari Walker, 16, from Propel Braddock Hills; and David Woodson, 16, from Obama.
In its fourth year of participating in the Learn & Earn Program, Homewood Children’s Village president and CEO Walter Lewis said he’s pleased to be part of such a valuable program. Student participants have grown from 36 to 91 in the first three years.
Learn & Earn is a six-week summer job program for teens and young adults ages 14 to 21 living throughout Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The program provides participants the opportunity to earn money, gain valuable work experience, and develop soft skills to help them become college- and career-ready.
Continuing with last year’s theme, “Breathing Life into the Community,” the weekend will include Friday’s Afro Nubian Parade, which, according to organizer Sahaar Lyles, is a display of Nubian (Black and brown) culture, unity and strength highlighting community, arts and spirituality.
“People of color from the diaspora are encouraged to participate to represent their home country, heritage and family ancestry,” Lyles said.
The Grand Marshal of the parade is Isis Brantley, often classified as an icon for natural beauty and empowerment. The Texas native is known as one of the best hair braiders in her state and was given an award for being the very first natural hair care expert in Texas. She owns and operates the Institute of Ancestral Braiding School and Salon in Addison, Texas, where as a braiding instructor and natural beauty specialist, her primary passion is to instill self-love and the embracement of true natural beauty. Brantley is scheduled to conduct a natural hair workshop, Aug. 6, at the Natural Choice Barber Shop, 621 N. Dallas Ave. Gifted as a multi-dimensional performing artist, she will also perform as a poet and vocalist during the Saturday afternoon Harambee activities.
Other fun-filled activities for the weekend include the Friday afternoon Phipps Homewood Good Food Fest, health and wellness workshops, The Legacy Arts Gallery, a children’s village, a jazz jam session, The Funky Fly Project, Dance Reed and the festival will conclude Sunday, Aug. 5 with the Bill Henry Band.
Kim PossABLE of the Fitzpatrick Marking Group is the festival’s mistress of ceremony.
“The mission of this year’s festival is to eliminate negativity in youth culture and to empower young people to understand their individual and collective beauty,” said George Hogan, Harambee Festival Chairman. He explained that Harambee is a Swahili term that means “togetherness” and Ujima means “collective work and responsibility. “This festival employs the arts to breathe life back into the disenfranchised and underserved minority neighborhoods to continue delivering a future where Black lives do matter.”
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