CHEYNEY, PA — As part of Chester County’s Juneteenth Festival, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania will host acclaimed author and activist Caroline Randall Williams on Saturday, June 19, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Marian Anderson Auditorium. The keynote speaker’s event is titled, “The Role of the Artist in the Journey Toward Freedom.”
Williams, who is an award-winning poet, young adult novelist, and cookbook author as well as an activist, performance artist, and scholar, will deliver the lecture about her experiences as an artist and provide a Q&A session with the audience. She is currently on the faculty at Vanderbilt University as a Writer-in-Residence in the Department of Medicine, Health, and Society and she continues to work and speak to the places where art, business, and scholarship intersect, moving people closer to their best lives and corporations closer to their ideal identities.
“We are excited to participate with an event on Juneteenth that celebrates the journey toward freedom in the African-American community,” said Christa Cobb, Director of Diversity, Inclusion, & Social Responsibility at Cheyney University. “Juneteenth (June 19) is celebrated in honor of one of the final acts of emancipation of slaves in the U.S. As the country’s first HBCU, hosting an important discussion on this day sends a compelling message about our historic role in education, advocacy, equity and social justice.”
The evening’s event will also include performances from the winners of the inaugural “I Matter” Poetry competition, as they share their powerful poems and art on why Black Lives Matter. The I Matter project is a national art and poetry contest created and launched by 14-year-old Isabella Hanson. It provides a platform for young people to process the pain experienced by witnessing the violence and injustices that disproportionately impact the Black community.
“As I embark on my second Juneteenth celebration, I am filled with hope,” said Hanson. “While there has been a major focus on racism, until systemic changes are universally implemented, I will continue to advocate for racial justice and equality.”
The event will include a reception prior to the poetry readings and lecture provided by Williams. Tickets can be purchased here. The capacity for the event is 130 attendees.
Cheyney’s keynote lecture is part of the Chester County Juneteenth Festival, a county-wide program that takes place from June 12 through July 5, 2021. Four partners – the Chester County Historic Preservation Society, Voices Underground, the Chester County History Center, and the Chester County Planning Commission – have been working together to promote African American cultural heritage in Chester County, nurture community collaboration, expand the community’s narrative about itself, and to leaven national conversations about African American cultural history.
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