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Lynchburg arts venue celebrates Juneteenth with dance, spoken word

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 6:20 PM EDT
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - The sounds of celebrating Juneteenth at the Academy Center of the Arts could be heard Friday.

“Progression means that we all have to move together.”

What started off as a message from the mayor turned into an artistic showcase of culture and spoken word.

“Today as we can see in 2020, we are still fighting for certain freedoms that all Americans take for granted,” said Treney Tweedy, City of Lynchburg mayor.

“Everybody want peace, but war is all they cry,” said Roscoe Burnems.

Burnems is an artist from Richmond.

He drove to Lynchburg to perform and share why Friday’s date is important to him.

“We don’t really have a real reason to celebrate July 4th, as, you know, black people really weren’t free then, right? But Juneteenth represents a time where we were able to move forward in that freedom process,” said Burnems.

Burnems gave his performance in a venue that historically at one point was a segregated facility.

Academy Center of the Arts executive director Geoffrey Kershner says today’s celebration is a mark towards progression.

“The fact that we can publicly celebrate Juneteenth in a venue that at one point was segregated under Jim Crow is a really powerful moment, actually, and really important,” said Kershner.

And through the dancing, drumming, and speaking, Burnems says the conversation surrounding Juneeenth is necessary.

“I think all this is necessary for a multitude of reasons, but it’s also nice to bring attention to the holiday and why this is such an important thing for people who look like me and for other people to appreciate that as well,” said Burnems.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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