African Street Festival

African Street Festival

Date Observed: Third weekend in September
Location: Nashville, Tennessee

The African Street Festival is held each year in Nashville, Tennessee, on the main campus of Tennessee State University and extends into the nearby community. Sponsored by the African American Cultural Alliance, the festival promotes increased awareness of the culture and history of people of African descent.

Historical Background

In the early 1980s, a small group of African Americans founded the African American Cultural Alliance in Nashville, Tennessee. The original mission of the Alliance was to recognize and promote positive aspects of African cultures, raise awareness of the heritage of people of African descent, and create opportunities to demonstrate African cultures. By doing so, the Alliance hoped to instill a collective sense of pride in African Americans.

Yvette Brunson and Helen Shute-Pettaway were two of the founding members of the Alliance. Believing that African heritage and history had been largely ignored by American mainstream society, Brunson and Shute-Pettaway wanted the Alliance to create a festival celebrating Africa and its diverse cultures and stories. The two hoped that giving African Americans reasons to be proud of their heritage would generate positive self-esteem and motivate them to learn more.

Creation of the Festival

In 1983 the Alliance created the African Street Festival as a public showcase for positive images of African nations, peoples of African descent, and African ways of life. The festival's primary goals include increased education about and understanding of the unique creative aspects of African cultures as well as continued support of the African/AfricanAmerican community.


The African Street Festival has grown to become one of Nashville's largest cultural events. It includes a wide variety of activities of interest to people of all ages. There are lectures on topics related to African and African-American history, special programs for children, storytelling, and authentic African cuisine. Music and dance performances are featured along with poetry readings and theatrical presentations. Some of the important, but often overlooked, historical contributions of African Americans are highlighted, such as the stories of African-American soldiers who fought in the Civil War. A marketplace offers African art and other items for sale. Approximately 100,000 people attend the festival each year.

Contact and Web Site

African American Cultural Alliance P.O. Box 22173 Nashville, TN 37202 615-251-0007

Further Reading

Edwards, Holly. "African Festival 'Feels Like Family'." The Tennessean, September 19, 2004. Torres, Ailene. "African Street Festival Aims to Bring Together People and Share Cultures." The Tennessean, September 18, 2005.
African-American Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations, 1st ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2007
References in periodicals archive ?
* 24th Annual African Street Festival. Tennessee State University, main campus.
While it never generated much revenue, WLIB was a mainstay for events like the annual West Indian Day Parade and African Street Festival, which advertised on WLIB, said Brooklyn Councilman Kendall B.
* 23nd Annual African Street Festival. Tennessee State University, main campus.
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