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Fayetteville native son Morray headlines inaugural Juneteenth Jubilee

'Celebration of freedom and unity' to bring music, arts, poetry downtown


Music, arts and crafts, food trucks and poetry will highlight Fayetteville’s first Juneteenth Jubilee this weekend.

The celebration will be Saturday and Sunday at Festival Park at 335 Ray Ave. downtown. Hours are noon to 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Heritage Brunch, set from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, will feature N.C. Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green at Studio 215.

Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., was first celebrated in 1866 by newly freed Blacks. In 1979, Texas was the first state to designate Juneteenth as a holiday.

On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill that made Juneteenth a federal holiday. The Fayetteville City Council declared it a city holiday in January.

Juneteenth Jubilee: Full schedule and brunch ticket information available online

Bianca Shoneman is CEO and president of Cool Spring Downtown District, which is collaborating with the city to sponsor the jubilee.

“Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and unity,” said Shoneman. “When the city approached us to create this inaugural event, we wanted an inclusive event that honored the Juneteenth history and the rich diversity of our Fayetteville community. We hopefully have created a festival that uplifts black history and culture through joy, primarily through my two ‘love languages’ -- food and music.”

The music lineup includes hip-hop, West African-infused folk, soul and gospel.

Jazz saxophonist Reggie Codrington, a Fayetteville native, will perform at 1 p.m.

At 3 p.m., Diali Cissokho and Kaira Ba will take the stage with a performance in the tradition of Senegalese musicians and storytellers known as griots. Cissokho and his band blend the rhythms of West African music with blues and folk sounds of the American South.

At 5 p.m., Fayetteville’s Fatback Band will perform, followed by Americana artist Amythyst Kiah at 7 p.m. and hip-hop performer Morray, a Fayetteville native, at 8:45 p.m.

“Morray was not only a good ‘get,’ but he's also been very generous with his resources,” Shoneman said.

Perhaps best known for the 2020 song Quicksand, Morray will meet with youths at the Boys and Girls Club on Friday and also is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Saturday’s Fayetteville Woodpeckers baseball game at Segra Stadium.

"Because our production budget was really tight, we went to him and said, 'I see your technical writer includes a video wall and a fancy set of trusses and lighting rigs and, unfortunately, we cannot meet those needs’ He said, 'That's OK. I'll donate that.'

“He wanted the show to be as good as could be for his hometown,” she added.

Fayetteville's own Fatback Band recorded the first commercial rap record in 1979 with King Tim III (Personality Jock).

The band is bringing 10 musicians, Stoneman said, adding that it is marking its 50th anniversary this year.

The Juneteenth Jubilee 5K race is planned from 8 to 9 a.m. Saturday.

On Sunday, Grammy Award-winning gospel performer Donnie McClurkin will close the Praise in the Park celebration. That will run from noon to 6 p.m. at Festival Park.

That same day, N.C. Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green will be the keynote speaker for the Heritage Brunch from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Studio 215, 215 Williams St. She is the first African American and third woman state poet laureate.

Tickets are $25 for a light brunch and $50 for a full brunch.

The Fayetteville City Council approved $141,000 in funding for the Juneteenth Jubilee, which Shoneman anticipates will cost a total of about $160,000.

“We've raised some corporate dollars and in-kind contributions, too, to cover additional expenses beyond the city's contribution,” she said.

For more information on Juneteenth Jubilee, go to visitdowntownfayetteville.com or Eventbrite.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, Juneteenth, Morray, downtown, Kaira Ba, Fatback Band, Amythyst Kiah, Reggie Condrington