The Prince George’s Harlem Renaissance Festival, an annual event that draws children, adults and families together in a celebration of the county’s arts and cultural programs and history, has been scheduled for May 3.
This year’s event marks the 15th annual festival, which is put on every year by the Prince George’s Harlem Renaissance Remembrance Foundation, said Carolyn Mills-Matthews, the foundation’s executive director.
The festival, which started in 1999, features a pre-festival gala on May 2, where several community and business leaders will be honored with the foundation’s Love Award. The next day, festivities will kick off with a parade, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at the Landover Metro station parking lot and move to the Kentland Community Center and Prince George’s Ballroom, the site of the festival. The community center is located at 2411 Pinebrook Avenue in Landover.
“We are marching to highlight literacy, our culture and our history,” Mills-Matthews told the AFRO. “Our theme this year is ‘We the People: Issues, Movement and Change.’ We are trying to focus on teens and young adults.”
The festival will include speakers, musical acts, events for people of all ages and exhibits and booths from local businesses and services, Mills-Matthews said.
Acts scheduled to perform include the legendary R&B band Midnight Star, Be’la Dona, Black Alley, Dee 1 and Tray. Bowie native Marcus Canty, 23, the R&B singer and dancer who placed fourth in the first season of the X Factor USA TV talent competition, will also perform.
“Prince George’s County is blessed to host an event like the Harlem Renaissance Festival,” County Executive Rushern L. Baker III told the AFRO in a statement.
“From listening to great music to seeing old friends, my entire family has enjoyed this festival over the years. I am so pleased that during this significant 15th anniversary year, they are focusing on [cultural] literacy in our community…I encourage all Prince Georgians to support and attend the Harlem Renaissance Festival this year and welcome all visitors from around the region, state and beyond to our incredible county.”
At a time when President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative has sought to focus attention on the need for the nation to lend a helping hand to young Black men, the festival’s organizers hope to show the county’s young residents how important youth have traditionally been in forging change, Mills-Matthews said.
“We are trying to get them to recognize and appreciate that whenever there has been change in the world, young people have been a catalyst for that change and oftentimes at the forefront,” she said.
The gala’s program will be emceed by two Prince George’s County Public School students—Jordan Fonville, a senior at Oxon Hill High School and Attiba McGill, a sophomore at Surrattsville High School. Entertainment for the gala will be provided by talented Prince George’s County students. The 2014 Voice of D.C., April Sampe', will also perform.
Instead of a celebrity speaker, the gala’s program will center around the festival’s collaborative partners over the years, Mills-Matthews said.
For more information, visit the festival’s website at http://pghrf.org/festival/.