Community celebrates unity, culture at festival

Artifacts from African countries on display at the African Street Festival (top)

Artifacts from African countries on display at the African Street Festival

Hundreds of Nashville residents came together to celebrate the traditions and culture of many African nations along with celebrating the theme of unity at the 31st annual African Street Festival that ran from September 20-22 at Hadley Park in Nashville.

The street festival, sponsored by the African American Cultural Alliance, is a way for many people to learn about the culture of many African nations by showcasing many artifacts from African countries and study the history of many African American leaders. The street festival also featured African Arts Exhibits, the Nashville Civil Rights Monument, Health Walks, and vendors from 110 countries.

The 2013 street festival also featured, for the first time, an art exhibit from Champion Black Jockeys, a champion Black bicyclist, and the first ever African Americans from the Formula One Racing Circuit. Festival Organizer Kwame Leo Lillard said that the 2013 Street Festival had a bike repair clinic where owners could bring in their bikes and teach a child how to maintain a bike. There was also a Black inventions contest where you could pick an invention, build a model, and make a public presentation.

Nashville resident Ed Kendall (bottom) stands in front of his book display promoting his new book "A Walk down Historic Jefferson Street" at the African Street Festival.

Nashville resident Ed Kendall (bottom) stands in front of his book display promoting his new book “A Walk down Historic Jefferson Street” at the African Street Festival.

The street festival featured premiere artists James Threadkill, Michael McBride, and Joseph Love and their presentation of an art show entitled ‘Black Community in Motion,’ an art exhibit that featured African Americans who won the Kentucky Derby in the 1800s; Black cyclists who won the Olympic Silver Medal in 1984; and the Black Grand Prix drivers.

Musical acts included a French rapper, a female country artist, reggae artists, R&B, and gospel music performances. The entertainment portion of the festival kicked off on September 20 with a performance by reggae music group Cobalt Blue. There were also art exhibits where artists could be watched painting.
Lillard said surveys were done to get people’s thoughts on the 2013 Street Festival in order to make improvements for future street festivals.

“We get a sense, a measure of how well we’re doing, not by our own assessment, but by the public assessment,” said Lillard.

The first five years of the festival had no events for children. However, by the sixth year, the children’s pavilion was installed with crafts, songs, etc. for the kids.

“This is a family event and it’s about passing on the legacy of our people,” said Lillard.
For more information on the African Street Festival or any other events organized by the African American Cultural Alliance, visit <www.aacanashville.org>.