Opening last weekend, Soul of Brooklyn was yet another a reminder of Fort Greene's role as a center of African-American arts and culture — not only for the borough, but the entire U.S. as well.
With the support of groups like The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts and the Brooklyn Arts Council, the kick-off Juneteenth Festival at Cuyler Gore Park on Saturday brought together residents from all walks of life to shop, listen to music and celebrate a holiday with much to say about the black experience, past and present.
"Any holiday or any event that celebrates the emancipation of African-Americans is very important. And I think we need to always recognize and remember, especially those people who did so much that were never named," said Sandra Beck, a Brooklyn resident who first celebrated Juneteenth while attending school in Fort Worth, Texas.
Along with the cultural and historical significance of the Juneteenth Festival, Soul of Brooklyn also highlighted dozens of local nonprofits and small businesses working to keep the African Diasporan artistic tradition alive.
That goal drew tourists, residents, artists and vendors from thousands of miles away to Cuyler Gore Park last weekend — people like Afi Green from Atlanta.
"I found out through Soul of Brooklyn that were doing this event and I knew I had to be involved," said Green, who sold pieces of African jewelry, including beaded necklaces and bracelets, under a tent in the park. "This is really the place to be."
Founded by Laurie A. Cumbo, Soul of Brooklyn's slate of events promised to showcase the many shops and cultural institutions sprouting in places like Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy. Of those institutions, one of the most notable has been the museum , MoCADA.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for people from Brooklyn and all across the city to experience the best of African culture in America,” said Ella Weiss, director of the Brooklyn Arts Council. “It also enables our many small business and nonprofits to demonstrate their support of the arts and the artists in our community.”
Soul of Brooklyn continues through Saturday, June 25 with events across the borough. For a full breakdown of happenings this week, visit soulofbrooklyn.com.