Juneteenth and Black Music Month Celebrations Bring Together Performers, Presenters and Valencia CommunityShare
The Valencia African Heritage Committee did not allow the pandemic and campus closures to stop the celebration of Juneteenth and Black Music Month this June. Hosted along with the West Campus Black History Committee and multiple student clubs, this year’s celebration took place through quarantine-style Zoom celebrations that kept people dancing and tapping their feet every Friday evening over the course of the entire month.
History Break: Juneteenth and Black Music Month
Also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth is the oldest, nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery dating back to the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas and the emancipation of enslaved African Americans throughout the former Confederate States of America. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, effective January 1, 1863, the state of Texas was finally in the position to overcome the resistance to President Lincoln’s executive order.
Black Music Month, also known as African American Music Appreciation Month, is a month-long celebration, which was first recognized by President Jimmy Carter on June 7, 1979, to celebrate the musical influences and contributions of African Americans in the United States throughout the month of June. In 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the African American Music Bill, which formally established Black Music Month as a national observance and continues to be recognized each year through a presidential proclamation.
Collegewide Celebration all Month
Friday, June 5, 2020
The month’s celebration launched with a tribute to R&B, jazz and neo-soul music. Hosts Stanton Reed, professor, business and accounting, and Faculty Association president, and Diane Reed, professor, nursing, and host of Valencia Radio’s Nurses Rock Show, led the first evening of celebration with a smooth lineup of artists:
- National event host, businesswoman, media personality and vocalist Tyesha Williams spoke on the history and contributions of R&B and neo-soul music;
- Saxophonist, vocalist and educator Naomi Joy spoke on the history and contributions to jazz music and performed a special tribute to Ella Fitzgerald;
- Singer, songwriter, producer and alumnus Palmer Reed gave tribute to R&B and neo-soul performance through his original song, “Memory”; and
- Singer and songwriter Deja Alise paid tribute to R&B with a performance of her original song, “A Million.”
Surprise employee tributes to R&B were given by Eugene Jones, executive dean, Downtown Campus, and Danielle McKinnon, academic division coordinator, nursing office, and Valencia African Heritage Committee Chair.
Friday, June 12, 2020
The second event in the four-week, Friday-night series was a tribute to hip-hop, rap, Afrobeat and Caribbean music. Host Rudy Darden, professor, English, and social justice advocate led an evening of lyrical entertainment and knowledge and opened the show with the following lineup:
- Educator, business owner, arts activist and performing artist Don Harrell presented a musical narrative on African rhythm-centered music culture;
- Artist, professor, father, son, brother and partner Francisco Perez, aka “Frankie Toma,” performed an original song titled “Traveling Man” with visuals of hip-hop artists over the last 30 years; and
- Business owner and musician Alvin Colbert, Jr., aka T.E.C.,performed a medley of two Bob Marley classics with the AAEG Band, led by Maya the Magi.
A special discussion facilitated by the host around the notable “This is America” song by Childish Gambino was part of the evening’s rich lineup, which included employees Keith Hill, director, campus technology, Joe Maxwell, retail specialist, and Danielle McKinnon. Surprise employee tributes to hip-hop were given by Lauren Sykes, professor, criminal justice technology, and Danielle McKinnon.
Friday, June 19, 2020
The third event in the four-week, Friday night series was a tribute to gospel, blues and rock, along with a special celebration of Juneteenth. Special live host Monica May, radio and media personality and chief information officer of Monica May Communications, led a powerful and soulful lineup:
- National event host, businesswoman, media personality and vocalist Tyesha Williams spoke on the history and contributions of gospel, blues and rock music genres;
- Singer, songwriter, producer and alumnus Palmer Reed gave a blues performance in tribute of the song “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King;
- Alumnus and University of Central Florida student Juan Aviles shared an award-winning essay on the significance and the modern-day lessons drawn from the events of Juneteenth;
- Singer, songwriter and alumna Cece Teneal performed a musical tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin;
- Singer and songwriter Shakina Glory performed a musical tribute to the Queen of Contemporary Gospel Yolanda Adams; and
- Singer, songwriter, guitarist and Valencia employee April Montallana, administrative assistant, paid tribute to the rock genre and performed a song by Jimi Hendrix, considered to be one of the greatest and most influential guitarists of all time.
Surprise employee appearances included a tribute to gospel included with a musical performance by Fontella Jones, counselor, and a special tribute to Black music by Terri Graham, executive dean, Winter Park Campus and future interim president, West and Downtown Campus.
Special tributes to Juneteenth were provided by Falecia Williams, president, West and Downtown campuses; Amy Bosley, vice president, organizational development and human resources; Tarteashia Harris, professor, economics; Joe Maxwell; Lauren Sykes; Quaneisha Mcleod, professor, health information technology; and the Black Music Month and Juneteenth Planning Committee.
Friday, June 26, 2020
The final evening of honoring Black Music Month closed with a talent showcase of Valencia students. The Valencia’s Got Talent! Show, co-hosted by Lauren Sykes and Stanton Reed featured the talent of 10 selected student finalists from across each campus. The viewers were blown away by the students’ performances through singing, the playing of instruments and dance.
The winners were selected through People’s Choice, which was held live during the show. First place winner, Chloe Campbell, received the Valencia’s Got Talent Trophy and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones; second place winner, Bianca Turner, received a trophy and Skullcandy Hesh 3 headphones; third place winner, Elines Verdejo, received a third place trophy and Skullcandy Hesh 3 headphones. All remaining finalists received a participants’ trophy and Skullcandy Jib wireless earbuds.
“Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity!” said first-place winner, Chloe Campbell. “It was such an honor to be considered with so many other talented people. I am overcome with emotion that I was able to share my love for musical theatre and have it well received. This award encourages me to keep sharing my talent in the future! Thanks again!”
Each show opened and closed with a thought-provoking and inspirational song for change that has transcended over the years with a reflection of how relevant it continues to be in today’s social and political climate. Videos included songs by artists Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Common with John Legend, Bob Marley, Childish Gambino, Kirk Franklin and more.