A Juneteenth Freedom Fest Hendersonville Reflection


The rain on June 11th halted what I traveled to Hendersonville for, an exciting, exhilarating spoken word poetry performance at the scheduled Juneteenth Freedom Fest! organized by Crystal Cauley. We were in a car headed in the direction of the Carl Sandburg Home Historical Site in Flat Rock where the event was scheduled to take place. Crystal receives a call. I hear her conversing with someone about the event. She hangs up. “The event has been canceled” she says.

In my 25+ years of being a performance artist I have never got on a plane and headed to a location where eventually the event I was to perform at was cancelled. Mother Nature rules! She had other plans. I planned poetry powerfully, particularly, to poetically make an impact that was promoted, then anticipated. I had promised to move people! Imagine, practicing poetry, preparation for a trip for several days, text messages, phone calls, Facebook messages, interviews, excitement. This is what my days looked like before June 11th.

We had to move on… Hendersonville is a lovely town. Beautiful, scenic, soft and hard environments. I’ve been living in Charlottesville, Virginia for the last seven months. Charlottesville and the area is beautiful, but Hendersonville and Asheville are even more so in my opinion. The mountains jump out and speak to you. They are incredibly green, the ones nearby. The dark brown of the mountains further away are just as majestic. I’m speaking of the North Carolina portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains. During my car rides and conversations I peered, pointed, pontificated about the joys of living in such an area. The area is a poet’s paradise, a rapper’s beauty to empower rap bars, a jazz band’s whimsical inspiration. Combined with the wonderful food I experienced, I was delivered a refreshing way of being. Being a Black man in a different land, with joys, thank yous, amens, and hallelujahs.

This trip was a multi generational, multi artistic, multicultural movement created by crafty, insightful and spiritual people. Despite the Juneteenth Freedom Fest! being cancelled I was able to break bread, perform (some of us wound up sharing our gifts and talents at what I would call a house concert), and enjoy all things kindred with a splendid group of people who have all touched my life in a great way. The event could happen down the line. We’ve discussed this and are considering options. The rain cannot stop Juneteenth! It is in our consciousness and in our souls.

We artists will return with another plan. This experience has taught us something. I have changed as a person and as a poet. See you down the line Hendersonville!

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