Pan African Festival of Georgia

Pan African Festival of Georgia

Date Observed: Last week in April
Location: Macon, Georgia

The annual Pan African Festival of Georgia celebrates influences of the African diaspora. Sponsored by the Tubman African American Museum in Macon, its purpose is to promote understanding between people worldwide through a week of events.

Historical Background

Father Richard Keil of Macon founded the Tubman Museum in the 1980s. Keil had been involved with the civil rights movement years before, and he wanted to build a cultural center that would foster understanding and race relations in the South by celebrating African-American accomplishments.

With a coalition of others sharing the same goal, Keil found space in an abandoned downtown building, which was refurbished and opened in 1985 as The Harriet Tubman Center for Spiritual and Cultural Awareness. Its name was changed, however, because many people thought the center focused on Harriet Tubman and her accomplishments (see also Harriet Tubman Day). Although dedicated to Tubman's spirit, the center became The Tubman African American Museum to reflect the fact that it is dedicated to African-American art, culture, and history.

Creation of the Festival

In 1997, with the sponsorship of the Tubman Museum, Mrs. Chi Ezekwueche, a local artist and community activist, founded the Pan African Festival of Georgia as a one-day event. She, and other Macon leaders, designed a festival that would draw a diverse audience into events highlighting African and African-American culture.

Observance

The Pan African Festival now is a week-long event. The 10th annual festival was held in 2006, which was also the 25th anniversary of the Tubman Museum.

Activities include an Oral Traditions Day, with storytellers focusing on African and southern U.S. folktales. A Taste of Soul provides food prepared by celebrity chefs. Poetry and spoken word performances are presented, as well as Pan-African films, a lecture series, and musical entertainment. A Pan African Festival parade features music and masquerade. The festival concludes with a Day in the Park in downtown Macon, where vendors offer food and crafts, and musicians perform jazz, rhythm and blues, reggae, and gospel.

Contacts and Web Sites

"Pan African Festival of Georgia" New Georgia Encyclopedia, a project of the Georgia Humanities Council Main Library University of Georgia Athens, GA 30602

Tubman African American Museum P.O. Box 6671 Macon, GA 31208 478-743-8544; fax: 478-743-9063
References in periodicals archive ?
Robins Federal Credit Union has supported the Pan African Festival of Georgia for two years, and has supported the Tubman African American Museum since 2005.

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