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African American Festival planned; call out for parade participants

By Staff | Jul 12, 2019

Members of the NAACP Youth Council walk in the parade during the African American Festival weekend in a past year's celebration. Toni Milbourne

CHARLES TOWN — The 27th annual African American Cultural and Heritage Festival will be held in Charles Town Aug. 16-18. The theme for the event, “400 Years Commemoration of Slavery – An American Evolution,” marks the 400th anniversary of the first recorded slaves entering Virginia.

“These events have shaped the democratic process, cultural diversity, historical traditions and the entrepreneurial spirit of the United States” said Lanae Johnson, parade coordinator for the weekend.

Last year’s parade included entries ranging from local politicians and candidate hopefuls to motorcyclists, school bands and more. This year, Johnson hopes to expand the number of entries joining in the celebration of the weekend.

“We already know there will be local school bands and independent marching units from Maryland who will participate,” Johnson said. It is her hope, however, to have a large contingency of floats, pageant winners and local clubs and businesses participate.

The parade will take place on Aug. 17 at noon. The route will run from West 3rd Avenue in Ranson to the Festival grounds, located at 300 South Lawrence Street in Charles Town.

Those interested in participating in the parade should contact Johnson immediately at 240-354-4495.

Also on the agenda for the Festival weekend is a gospel extravaganza on Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Betty Roper Auditorium at Wright Denny Intermediate School. A Youth Block Party will also be held at the festival grounds from 7-10 p.m. that same evening. The youth event is sponsored by the Jefferson County NAACP Youth Council.

Following the parade on Saturday, the celebration will continue at the Festival grounds, with vendors and entertainers.

Sunday will wrap up the weekend of activity, as a Niagara Movement Pilgrimage will be held at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park beginning at 8 a.m. An Ecumenical Service will follow at Freewill Baptist Church in Harpers Ferry.

For more information, contact Johnson or parade committee members George Rutherford, at 304-725-9610, and Jean Roberts, at 304-283-2712.