Exhibit At CHI Memorial Celebrates Juneteenth And African American Music Appreciation Month

Friday, June 11, 2021
Us by Valerie Smith, EdD
Us by Valerie Smith, EdD

In recognition and celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month and Juneteenth, RISE Chattanooga has partnered with CHI Memorial’s Arts Therapies and Well-Being Program to present Rooted In Color, a visual arts and live performance showcase during the month of June.

“We are extremely appreciative of our partnership with CHI Memorial on this project that provides an opportunity to give an Afrocentric perspective of these notable celebrations through the works of our local artists and performers,” said Shane Morrow, RISE Chattanooga executive director.  “Through the power of the arts, we are able to present continuing community engagement to understand black history and spotlight black achievements.”

The four local visual artists selected for this exhibit are Josiah Golson, La-Tesia Poole, Valerie Smith, EdD and Nathan Stepney.

"‘Advancing social justice for all’ is an integral part of CHI Memorial’s mission,” said Chyela Rowe, Arts Therapies and Well-Being Programs coordinator, CHI Memorial. “History is an important teacher that has informed our values for compassion, inclusion, integrity, excellence, and collaboration in the ways we provide care at CHI Memorial. We are honored to partner with RISE Chattanooga in celebration of Juneteenth and Black Music History Month to reflect how visual and music culture can help shape perspectives on social justice, health equity, and healthy communities.”

The visual art featured in the Rooted in Color exhibit can be enjoyed by CHI Memorial’s patients, their designated visitor, and staff in the lobby areas of the main hospital campus.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the exhibit is not open to the public.

History of African American Music Appreciation Month 
Originally coined Black Music Month, the commemoration was conceived by black music moguls Kenny Gamble, Dyana Williams, and Ed Wright in the 1970s and initiated by President Jimmy Carter on June 7, 1979. 

The holiday was later renamed African American Music Appreciation Month by President Barack Obama in 2009.  This month, we celebrate African American musicians, singers, and composers by listening to their songs and honoring their lasting cultural and historical impacts.

History of Juneteenth
On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Union General Gordon Granger led thousands of federal troops to Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended, and slaves had been freed. Granger’s order laid the foundations for Juneteenth, the oldest nationally observed celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. 

A combination of “June” and “nineteenth,” “Juneteenth” serves as a way to celebrate and commemorate the news shared on June 19, 1865. Early celebrations included reassurance among descendants, praying and gathering of remaining family members. In fact, many of the activities present at the first Juneteenth celebrations, including fishing, barbecuing, and baseball, are still present today. Most importantly, the day is a time for education and self-improvement.


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