Feature photo by Adianna Alston
BY ADIANNA ALSTON | AC JosepH Media
GLASSBORO — The third annual Glassboro Juneteenth celebration stood out once again for its impressive food options, attention to the children of attendees and special speakers that set the tone on the historical significance of the day.
This event was put on by the Black and Brilliant Events team consisting of co-owners Sherry Busby, Latasha Waters, and Myeesha Jones.
The day was packed with activities and fun for all ages to enjoy––from keynote speakers, performances by local artists, raffles, bounce houses, food vendors, small businesses and more.
One highlight of the day’s festivities were the keynote speakers: Saleem Amir Hakeem and Rann Miller.
READ: Juneteenth and Black Mental Health by BetterHelp: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/general/juneteenth-supporting-mental-health-equity-today-and-everyday/
“The speakers are always my favorite,” Jones told Front Runner New Jersey. “We got two really good speakers this year.”
The Black and Brilliant Events team made sure to use this event as an opportunity to give back to children.
“We have our first annual toy giveaway this year,” Jones said. “We’re going to try to make it an annual thing with the support of the Dollar General in Glassboro.”
Children in attendance at the event also received free pizza courtesy of Nick’s Pizza.
“This is our third year and their third year donating pizza, so they are super supportive,” Jones stated.
There were new and delicious food options at this year’s events including water ice, tacos, and Caribbean style food.
Waters said taking part in Juneteenth in an active way gives her a sense of doing something that’s bigger than her.
“Celebrating Juneteenth means unity and stillness and refocusing on what’s most important as a community and as a people,” Waters said. “Because sometimes we can go through day to day just being our own individual selves and not realizing that there’s something greater than us that we can really delve into to uplift us, our communities, our families.”
Jones added that freedom comes in many forms for African Americans.
“My focus is especially on freedom and a big portion of freedom––as our speaker said earlier––is economics,” Jones said. “So, we have to understand the power of money and what it can do for our people. We gotta start working together and networking and supporting one another. We have to find a way to keep [the Black dollar] within us. We have a long way to go but we’re just trying to do our small part that we can and hopefully it will spread.”
Busby said another sense Juneteenth brings is the need of community and working together to achieve goals.
“We have to support one another,” Busby said. “We have to really connect and network and understand that our dollar is very powerful.”
Waters hopes that participants are able to take something positive away from this Juneteenth celebration.
“Making sure we’re staying connected and that we’re learning from one another and in everything that we learn, we take it back to our families and take it seriously,” Waters said. “Not just as a sound through our ears but as action.”
There was no shortage of amazing, small Black-owned businesses with a wide variety of products ranging from press on nails and skin care to health and wellness and everything in between.
One of the many vendors included Jazmine Wisher who owns Slayed by JW.
“I started this in 2019 and I started expanding in 2020,” Wisher said. “We are all things nails––press ons, acrylics, pedicures, mobile appointments, spa appointments, spa parties, kids parties, kids sets.
“We do it all. We’re a very loud, very colorful brand and we like our nails to represent that. We do nail care related items, we have body shimmer oils, we have body scrubs. Anything nail related, we got you boo.”
Wisher has been at all three Glassboro Juneteenth celebrations.
“The first one I was a shopper, the second one I was a vendor, and now this third one I’m a vendor as well. I love it,” she said.
Wisher said while she recognizes some businesses from previous celebrations, she sees new ones as well.
“I have to say, I love the fact it’s always new businesses,” Wisher said. “It’s great to see a business you know already, but when you’re seeing other Black businesses pop up and selling quality products, it’s beautiful.”
Wisher said she is passionate about helping other businesses like hers.
“I’m very big on supporting other black businesses, but especially black female businesses,” Wisher said. “I believe in sisterhood. I believe in empowerment. I truly, truly believe in supporting the brand and supporting your people because we’re not going to get out of this financial crisis unless that’s what we do.
“We’re not going to change the way the Black dollar is spent until we make the active decision to change that.”
Nadirah Pierce, the owner of NadiPark, said her business shows off her creativity, whether it’s art painting or jewelry.
“NadiPark is everything that’s me,” Pierce said. “Just anything hands on and creative. Just something that felt good to my heart instead of working for other people. So, the goal is to be self-employed and doing what I love.”
Pierce said she was happy to be part of the celebration.
“I can’t get enough of celebrating us. We deserve it. I want people to stick to being themselves and being creative.”
Chelsia Ellis, who owns the health and wellness provider Blend Earthly, provides cold pressed juices, herbal teas and feminine yoni care for healing and herbal cleansing.
“My mom has a lot of underlying health issues, so it just inspired me and motivated me to never face those in my life and to never let others face those––especially in our community with diabetes and high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” Ellis said.
“So, it just pushed me to move into the herbal way of healing, which is sea moss, bilberry leaf, things like hibiscus, things with antioxidants, anti inflammatories, natural ways of healing and recovering versus the pharmaceutical way.”
Ellis is also a returning vendor from last year’s celebration as well.
“This is my second year doing it. I love it,” Ellis said. “I love networking, I love meeting the new vendors. I love seeing what opportunities are out there within my community. It’s really dope. I hope to do it next year as well.”
Ellis also provided insight on why she decided to continue attending the festival.
“The people, the culture, the community, the love you get while you’re here, the support––that’s what brought me back,” she said.
In the short three years that this festival has been held, it has grown tremendously through the support of sponsors, vendors, and the community. The co-owners of the Black and Brilliant Events team are looking forward to expanding this event in the years to come and continuing to provide positive community engagement.
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