Chattanooga Festival Of Black Arts And Ideas Debuts June 14-19

Monday, May 21, 2018

With a commitment to celebrating the contributions of artists of African descent, the inaugural Chattanooga Festival of Black Arts and Ideas will premiere with a slate of work showcasing the disciplines of music, dance, theatre, visual arts, film and literature during a week-long celebration June 14-19 at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, Coolidge Park, and other locations around the community.

The multidisciplinary festival aims to spotlight emerging and established black artists and build greater community awareness of the diversity of black arts within Chattanooga and Hamilton County, says festival founder and CEO Ricardo Morris. The event will also provide opportunities for discussions on topics that connect black arts to other areas of the life of the community.

“The first and most important outcome I want the festival to achieve is to awaken the greater Chattanooga community to the broad spectrum of exemplary work by black artists in our own back yard,” Mr. Morris said. “This celebration will allow other ethnicities to better understand and embrace the concept that while these works of art may be created Black people and reflective of the Black condition, they more importantly speak to the human condition in ways that only the arts can do.”

The date of the festival coincides with the internationally recognized observance of Juneteenth, a U.S. holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas and, more widely, the emancipation of African slaves throughout the former Confederacy.

Highlights of the festival line-up include:

Chattanooga playwright Charles Patterson will formally kick off the festival on June 14 with a staged reading of his original work, “Don’t Suffer in Silence” at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre followed by a panel discussion with Mr. Patterson, the cast and other theatre professionals.

Chattanooga professional actress, writer, director, filmmaker, casting director and owner of Live to Inspire Productions Shelia Wofford will present a screening of, “Michael Valentine,” the winner of the 2018 Inspired Faith Film Festival Best Short Film Award, followed by a panel discussion about the growing Atlanta and Nashville film industry and the opportunities or lack thereof for Black actors, filmmakers and producers as well as students seeking careers in the film industry.

Local drummer Kofi Mawuko and his World Music Band will formally kick off the third day of the festival with a West African drumming circle on the grounds of the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, followed by performances throughout the day of jazz, rap, hip hop, soul, gospel, blues and classical music as well as spoken word. Some of the other artists and groups scheduled to perform include Dexter Bell & Friends, Seaux Chill, Garrell Woods with Young Gifted & Black and others.

Visual artist, educator and arts advocate Charlie Newton will be in residence at AVA: Association for Visual Arts the entire month of June and all festival goers are invited to visit his exhibit during their time in the Coolidge Park. In addition, emerging and seasoned visual artists will exhibit and sell their work at the theatre as well.  

CFBAI will assemble a gathering of area gospel choirs and praise teams for a special tribute to all fathers, “Black Dads Matter” Gospel Supper and Fellowship. Prior to the performances on the Centre Lawn at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre there will be a panel discussion about the influence of the church in the black community and how best to utilize the strength of the faith-based community.

The festival will close on the steps of City Hall, where there will be a dramatic reading by local educator LaFrederick Thirkill of the Emancipation Proclamation, accompanied by performances of traditional Negro Spirituals and the singing of the Negro National Anthem as arranged by internationally recognized Chattanooga composer and conductor Dr. Roland M. Carter.

“With this inaugural presentation of the festival, we are striving to gain a reputation for providing audiences with artistic experiences that are extraordinary and enriching,” said Mr. Morris.

Mr. Morris adds that long-term outcomes of the festival will include the establishment of a network of support and an avenue for collaboration between black visual and performing artists and arts organizations. The event will also have an educational component, providing lesson plans for teachers in the Hamilton County schools to educate students about Juneteenth and other aspects of black history.  

Community partners providing support for the festival include ArtsBuild, Benwood, Footprint and Lyndhurst Foundations, Chattanooga Neighborhoods Arts Partnerships, Brewer Media, the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, the city of Chattanooga, and Sankofa. 

For more information, visit the festival website at or call Ric Morris at 883-0178. You may also send an e-mail to:

Weekly Road Construction Report

Here is the weekly road construction report for Hamilton County I-75 North Exit 1 interchange reconfiguration project at mile marker 1:   Work on this project continues. There is now only one exit ramp that allows drivers to turn both east and west on Ringgold Road at a signalized intersection. Traffic has been shifted onto the newly constructed portion of Camp Jordan ... (click for more)

CDOT Announces Construction Closures

1100 Mountain Creek Road  Utility work will require closing the 1100 block of Mountain Creek Road this Saturday through Sunday morning.  Work will begin at 7:30 AM on Saturday, June 23, and the road will reopen Sunday morning.  The 1100 block of Mountain Creek Road is north of N Runyan Drive.  The detour is to use US 27 to Morrison Springs for access to properties ... (click for more)

All School Board Members But Rhonda Thurman Approve Going Ahead With Equity Study

All County School Board members except Rhonda Thurman said Thursday afternoon they are in favor of pushing ahead with an equity study sought by new Supt. Bryan Johnson. Ms. Thurman said she was "tired of bullying tactics by outside groups" such as UnifiEd and Chattanooga 2.0. She said the 132 people who signed a letter in support of the study include people "with deep pockets" ... (click for more)

CARTA Set To Launch One Of Nation's 1st Full-Size All-Electric Transit Buses

ARTA has taken delivery on one of the nation's first full-size all-electric transit buses. Officials said the bus may be ready for the road in about two weeks after some final touchups, including adding a radio. Only one other city - in Washington state - has this type bus on the road. Chattanooga will be the first in the country with three of the models. Two others are ... (click for more)

The Boss, Claude Ramsey

I try not to overuse the word great, but we lost a great man today, Claude Ramsey. I had the pleasure of serving under him as director of Commercial and Industrial Properties for 14 years while he was the Hamilton County Assessor of Property. He was probably the smartest person I have ever known. He was tough but patient, kind, caring and compassionate. He knew how to get ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Not A Blessed One

When I read, to no great surprise, that 132 of Chattanooga’s “leaders” had signed a letter in support of “socioeconomic integration” in Thursday’s Times Free Press, there were two things that were immediately obvious to me: Not a blessed one would have (a) written such a letter on their personal stationery, and (b) not a blessed one would have ever voted for the current president ... (click for more)