Celebration of our Roxbury neighbors starts June 12

After two year of planning through a grant from the John and Abigail Adams Arts Program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Roxbury Cultural Exchange and local arts and cultural groups will sponsor the first annual Roxbury Cultural Week (RCW), June 12-19. The RCW correlates with celebrations in many states, marking Juneteenth (also known as  Freedom Day or Emancipation Day), commemorating the first reading of Emancipation Proclamation in Texas on June 19, 1865.
The upcoming RCW events, most of which are free, include receptions, book festivals, exhibits, and performances for the entire family.  

 The week will open with the free Roxbury-Harlem Book Fair  in the courtyard of Roxbury Community College, 1234 Columbus Ave.,  on Saturday, June 12 from 1-5. Local artists represented include Mel King, hip-hop expert Solomon W.F. Comissiong, and Rochelle Thorpe. There will be entertainment, youth activities, arts and crafts, a writer’s workshop, Intro to Blogging and more.  Details at 617-749-3010 or highfort@juno.com.

Dudley Square Main Streets and the Roxbury Cultural Exchange will sponsor a free opening reception on Tuesday, June 15 from 4-6 p.m. at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street. Music will be by the Richard Habib Evans Jazz Quartet and light refreshments will be served. Main Streets will also have pictures of Dudley’s Past and Future in store windows on Washington and Dudley Streets.

 On Thursday, June 17 at 8 p.m. Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall will present the Barrouallie Whalers (rhymes with “merrily wailers”), made up of retired fishermen from the harbor town of Barrouallie on the island of Saint Vincent. The Whalers sing shanties and other traditional songs including calypso lyrics and children’s games, and now travel widely, sharing their music with the world. Many of the Barrouallie shanties are direct descendants of classic deepwater sea shanties such as “Blow the Man Down,” “Goodbye Fare-You-Well,” and “Rio Grande.” Madison Park Development Corporation says it “is happy to bring this show of Caribbean heritage to Roxbury Center for Arts to honor the Juneteenth homecoming reunion and Roxbury Cultural Week.”

The Rum-Soaked Crooks from Buzzards Bay will provide the opening set for this family friendly performance. For information and tickets go to www.madison-park.org/node/128 or call at 617-849-6322.

 Haley House Cafe and Gallery at 12 Dade Street will be featuring a youth exhibit titled “Stay in School” consisting of 20 pieces of art and 60 essays that promote the themes of staying in school, sportsmanship, team work, overcoming obstacles, and pride. Hours are 7:30-4 p.m.Monday-Friday, Saturday 9-3.  Thursday night experience Art is Life Itself till 9 p.m. local poetry and open mike. Free
Museum of the National Center of Afro American Artists at 300 Walnut Ave, Roxbury has two exciting exhibits. The Goodie Monsta: Original illustrations by Robert Peters; Chester Dames: Harlem to Cambridge, Violence Transformed; Memory Transformed, in addition to works from the permanent collection.  Info on admission at 617 442-8614 or ncaa.org.   

 Discover Roxbury will be hosting a free lunchtime tour of the historic First Church of Roxbury on Wednesday, June 16 from 12:30-1:30. On Friday, June 18, they will be hosting a cooking class by chef Nadine Nelson at the Haley House. Learn how to cook global bites-Spanish tapas, Chinese dim sum, and Greek mezes. Limit 20 people; cost $50. 617 427-1006 discoverroxbury.org.

Finally on Juneteenth itself, Saturday, June 19, when many families traditionally celebrate by picnicking in Franklin Park, the Roxbury Center for the Arts will host a Juneteenth “after-party” starting at 9 p.m.