Local festival celebrates Black history

Janelle Edwards displaying her jewelry. Photo courtesy: Kinnedi Bonner

FAMU alumna and business owner Janelle Edwards began her business in 2006 after finding her passion. She has a mobile business called Crazyfunkystuff and sells a lot of her jewelry on Etsy.

“I would tell anyone that it is all about perseverance and being able to step outside of your comfort zone,” Edwards said.

The festival included the Ayoka Afrikan Drum and Dance Ensemble, Lilli Forbes and The Lee Boys, who performed in the Heritage Hall Auditorium.

Christopher Barnhart, owner of Razor Blade Artwork, displayed his paintings.

FAMU’s Essential Theatre also advertised its play, “Romeo and Juliet, A Miami Love Story,” a reimagined interpretation of Shakespeare’s tragedy set in the present raging streets of Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. The play is directed by Anedra Small, a professor at Florida A&M.

Netchem Hairston’s business The Herbal Homestead started when she gave up specific body lotions and perfumes.

“I decided to try making products one year and the journey continues,” she said. “Anyone who wants to start their own business I would tell them to be confident and learn from your fails, they only make you stronger.”

One of her biggest challenges was finding the customers and the right audience, but she continues to persevere.

The Florida Division of Arts and Culture is Florida’s state art agency. It provides diverse resources such as arts in education, music, museums, state service organizations, theater, dance, media arts, visual arts programs and projects.

Since 1969, the division has connected cultural funding and services to Florida’s citizens and visitors. Some of its partners include Citizens for Florida Arts, South Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

It hosts events such as Poetry Outloud, where high school students recite poems while learning about their literary heritage.

“I am so glad the division hosts programs like this, especially for Black history because I think it is so important to know your culture and tap into Black businesses within the area,” Isadora Saint-Juste, a Florida A&M student, said.

The Florida Division of Arts and Culture staff and volunteers are hopeful to continue the Black History Culture and Arts Festival for years to come.