MEET OUR FREEDOM WEEKEND CHARACTERS

The Buffoons were established by the Juneteenth Celebration Committee to serve as official mascots and/or ceremonial jesters for the Juneteenth Celebration Weekend. The Buffoon character was created based off of the West African Buffoon that entertains and educates during ritualistic and ceremonial activities of West African Villages. For the purpose of Juneteenth, the Buffoons will act as clowns, entertainers, and a great picture opportunity for families attending!

The Griots were established by the Juneteenth Celebration Committee to serve as official elders and/or ceremonial storytellers for the Juneteenth Celebration Weekend. The Griots’ character was created based off of the historical African Griots who are storytellers of Western African folklore and stories, but in the American experience Griots have a charge to communicate the stories of “how we got over”, the stories that bring us to be able to celebrate Juneteenth today. For the purpose of Juneteenth, The Griots Society embraces various community members between ages 55 and 85, that will help educate Juneteenth participants through testimonials, reading of sacred text and cultural stories, and Q&A sessions. The Griots will have a scheduled interactive reading during the children’s activities. They will also have a reserved area to display african literature, cultural art, and have conversations with community members.

The Uhuru (Freedom in Swahili) Steppers consist of community members who have a passion for dance. This an opportunity for local dancers to display their talents while being educated on African American culture. The dance style will be a mix of Afro-Centric and modern Hip-Hop, and will incorporate traditional african dance and symbolism into urban performances. For the purpose of Juneteenth, The Uhuru Steppers will perform during a scheduled time for festival stage entertainment, marching performance for Parade, special dance presentation at the Sponsors Mixer, and a processional performance for the Festival opening show. They will also have a reserved area to take pictures, teach dances, and have conversations with community members.

IBure Kiongozi or (as translated in Swahili) the Free Chief character was created by the Juneteenth Celebration Committee to honor the continued dedication of our people (African Americans) in ensuring that all people are able to achieve true freedom and equality in America. The character, in essence, is symbolic of African American freedom and liberation from the Confederacy on June 19th of 1865. The character furthermore, reflects the continued struggle for justice and equality for African Americans today. For the purpose of Juneteenth, Bure Kiongozi will make the official celebratory reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and act as a “Walking History of Juneteenth.” He will also have a reserved area to take pictures, teach the history of Juneteenth, and have conversations with community members about African American freedom and achievement.

M’ganga or (as translated in Swahili) The Healer character was created by the Juneteenth Celebration Committee to cherish the sacred heritage of natural remedies and medicines practiced by our ancestors during enslavement. Healers and Witch doctors are an influential part of African religious and cultural practices. In America, Healers played a powerful role not only in the lives of slaves. Their traditional practices were also valued by their oppressor as well. For the purpose of Juneteenth, M’ganga is symbolic of self educating on how to innovate those ancestral  remedies with modern medicine, without straying far from our heritage of natural solutions. She further educates the community on the history of African Americans and the use of natural herbs and remedies for medicinal and health use.

M’ganga’s Crest Description:
• The five circles or dots above her head are representative of the natural elements utilized in the healing practice; Earth, Fire, Water, Mineral, & Nature
• The Mortar & Pestle represent the active practice and creation of herbal remedies and medicines
• The branches of herbs/plant represent the need to fully utilize all uses of natural plants, flowers, herbs etc for the better me of the bodily temple
• The Kikombe Cha Umoja is representative of the need for unity in educating on natural healing practices and to do everything in memoriam of the ancestors
• The crossed spears represent the protection and healing of the soul, body, and min

Creation, symbolism, and purpose of Freedom Weekend Characters by Bobby Hudson III – Founder

Due to inclement weather, the Juneteenth Festival has been rescheduled for Saturday, June 26, 2021.
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