Dance, music, fashion and impassioned speech were all part of Warwick’s second annual Juneteenth Celebration, hosted by P.O.W.E.R. Collective, The two-year-old organization’s acronym stands for Power of Words Exposing Racism, but last Saturday other arts also fueled their efforts, their stated intent being “to dismantle racism and promote compassion.”
Juneteenth was declared a national holiday last year by President Joe Biden, as it commemorates the freeing of Texas slaves, emancipated after the Civil War ended.
“Juneteenth, specifically to me, means freedom. It’s a reminder that we’ve always been able to be ourselves, but haven’t always been able to be free in this country,” said Sabrina Jennings, event host and founder of P.O.W.E.R. Collective. The group kickstarted Warwick’s Juneteenth last year and hopes to continue the tradition, along with more events.
This year’s celebration featured several BIPOC--that is Black, indigenous and people of color--speakers, performers, and vendors, representing their cultures through various personal expressions. Throughout the day, speeches and poetry, traditional dances and music, and even a fashion show, entertained the crowd.
“I think it’s fabulous. This is my second time at the event. The performances were great, just all of the presentations were very informative,” Said Lynette Holmes, 52, a Harriman resident, whose favorite performer was December Turquoise, who danced.
The event concluded with a drum concert by Kofi and Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble, enticing many audience members to get up and dance with them.
“As we are celebrating...it gets me to say ‘wow’...I don’t know how many hundreds of years, 300 years, or 400 years, it took to get to this point,” said Maxwell Kofi Donkor, lead drummer of the ensemble. “I felt so amazing. As a country, we are beginning to recognize not just the African perspective and slavery, but also the other groups who have faced similar issues.”
“I thought the performances like, they spoke, you know, you got what you needed from it,” said Brando Castro.
What future events is P.O.W.E.R. Collective planning?
“Unfortunately, because of covid, and I did get covid, which knocked me off my feet for a little while, we weren’t able to do many things this year,” said Jennings. “But next year, we’re looking ahead to doing things about black self-care, teaming up with other individuals. We are big into the LGBT community. We just need to raise money; once we get there, we’re going to take off.”
“As we are celebrating, it gets me to say, wow, I don’t know how many hundreds of years, 300 years, or 400 years, it took to get to this point. I felt so amazing. As a country, we are beginning to recognize not just the African perspective and slavery, but also the other groups who have faced similar issues.”--Maxwell Kofi Donkor, drummer