For 26 years, George Fadil Muhammad has spearheaded Macon’s Juneteenth Freedom Festival.
This year, Saturday's celebration and the quality and diversity of artists performing is “unprecedented,” he said.
“The lineup of talented performers is exceptionally rich and diverse,” Muhammad said of this year’s event celebrating the 1865 closing of the Civil War and end of American slavery. “We have remarkably skilled artists and performers, each an example of music, dance or art at an extremely high level.”
Muhammad said the Juneteenth celebration will feature blends of hip hop, reggae, jazz, blues, gospel, soul and other genres. Plus there will be modern African dance, the crafted work of artists and artisans, and treats from food vendors.
He said the performance highlight of the day will come at 8 p.m. when Atlanta’s Ed Jaxon and the Neo-Renaissance Jazz Orchestra perform.
Juneteenth activities are free and open to the public at Tattnall Square Park.
“I hope people of all backgrounds and ethnicities feel comfortable and welcome,” he said. “We are obviously heavily invested in black culture, and for that reason some may say there’s no place for them at Juneteenth, but that’s a mistaken notion. We hope all will come. There’s so much to benefit everyone as they learn, celebrate and talk together about what was such a big part of all our history.”
Muhammad said the day’s sense of honoring the past, celebrating today and joining together to forge a better future means Juneteenth’s fun and enjoyment carries a potent purpose and message.
“Those coming will enjoy great entertainment and fellowship with the past, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “But the most important aspect is that we come together and grasp the level of sacrifice, struggle and resilience those who endured slavery in America showed.
"We all — young, old and all races — accept the responsibility of building on their legacy and live up to their standards and work together for a future where all are truly free and becoming the best they can be. We look for a season that’s free from the violence and harm we see even today where there is respect for one another and we are instead helping one another, lifting one another up. It’s truly been said no one is free until every one of us is free. That’s what Juneteenth is about: it has a message for us all today.”
Juneteenth Freedom Festival
When: Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Tattnall Square Park, 1155 College St., Macon
More information: 478-737-3319 or 478-718-8067