6th Annual Chattanooga Festival of Black Arts & Ideas: Juneteenth Independence Day


In its sixth year (2023) the Chattanooga Festival of Black Arts & Ideas: Juneteenth Independence Day will kick off its Juneteenth Celebration with the 2nd Annual RBG Ball. Other events and activities will take place on various dates throughout June in multiple locations throughout the city.

This year you will notice some major changes in our programming. As part of our strategic plan we will begin moving our sub-festivals to their own months. The first being the James Baldwin Festival of Word. While this festival maybe changing dates, it will always maintain its high level of program presentations and quality of artists. 

Schedule of Events 2023

•             Friday, June 9th – Opening Night of A. Wilson’s The Piano Lesson

Time:  Reception at 7:00 PM– Curtain at 8:00 PM

Location:  Chattanooga Theatre Centre Circle Theatre, 400 River St.

Tickets:  $25 – Tickets may be purchased at by calling the CTC  Box Office at 423-267-8534 or boxoffice@theatrecentre.co.  You may also visit our website: BlackArtsAndIdeasFest.com 

Description: The August Wilson Playmakers Festival will host the Opening Night reception of CTC’s production of Piano Lesson. The play tells the story of the Charles family. They are forced to confront the literal and figurative ghosts of their past before they can move into the future.

•             Sunday, June 11th – August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson Lecture

Time:  Play starts at 2:30 PM Lecture to follow around 4:30

Location: Chattanooga Theatre Centre Circle Theatre, 400 River St.

Tickets:  $25 – CTC Box Office / TheatreCenter.com

Description: If you missed Opening Night for The Piano Lesson here is another opportunity to enjoy this incredible work. Immediately following the show August Wilson Society Education Director Pedro E. Alvarado joins us once again to enlighten and entertain the audience about this play and the life of Mr. Wilson. You will also get to meet and hear from the cast about their preparation for their roles in the play.

•             Thursday, June 15th – Black In Appalachia Presentation/Lecture

Time: 6:00 PM

Location:  Stove Works, 1250 E 13th Street, Chatt.

               Tickets: FREE – Donations

BIA works to highlight the history & contributions of African Americans in the development of the Mountain South & its culture. They do that through research, local narratives, public engagement & exhibition. Black in Appalachia is a community service for Appalachian residents and families with roots in & through the region.

William Isom II is a 6th generation East Tennessean and Director of Community Outreach at East Tennessee PBS in Knoxville. As the director of the Black in Appalachia Project for PBS, he coordinates the project’s research, community database development, documentary film and photography production, oral history collection and educational events in conjunction with local residents. He is also the proud father of two boys, Devin and Isa. In his role of Director of Community Outreach, he teaches an after-school media training program with Knoxville high school students (PBS Newshour’s Smoky Mountain Youth Media), hosts free community screenings of Independent Lens documentaries, produces and directs short historical films under “Blacks in Appalachia Films.” That documentary series is aimed at preserving and raising up the narratives of Black history and culture in Central Appalachia.

•             Friday, June 16th – Juba Dance Ensemble Performance

Time: 7:00 PM   Performance

                 8:30 PM            Panel Discussion with Dancers

Location: Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River Street

Tickets: $20 Children under 10 Free

Description: This is the inaugural performance of the Juba Dance Ensemble under the direction of Crystal Newson. You will be taken on a journey through the history of dance created by Black people. From African to Hip-hop and everything in between. All the dancers are local artist that have appeared in various performances throughout Chattanooga and Hamilton County. You will be moved and educated to all that is dance and its connections to each other.

•             Saturday, June 17th – 2nd Annual Juneteenth Freedom Run & Walk

Time: 8:00 AM Half Marathon Run – 9:00 AM Walk

Location: Hubert Fry Center – 4301  Amnicola Highway

Tickets: Click Here To Register 

Description: Lindsay Bisset said it best, “Freedom is a journey we take together as a country, and this race is a reminder of our commitment together”.  Juneteenth is a holiday for all Americans and this run is a great way to show our unity.

Opal Lee was called the “grandmother of the movement” to make Juneteenth a federal holiday by Biden, who at one point left the stage and walked over to the 94-year-old to speak with her directly. In 2016, at 89 years old, Lee, a former teacher and lifelong activist, walked from her home in Fort Worth, Texas, to the nation’s capital in an effort to get Juneteenth named a national holiday.

•             Saturday, June 17th – Katherine Dunham Juba Dance Festival Workshops

Times: 10:00 AM African Dance  Click to Register

                  11:30 AM Jazz Dance   Click to Register

                    1:00 PM Hip-Hop Dance               Click to Register

                    2:30 PM Contemporary               Click to Register

Location: Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River Street

Description: These workshops will be taught by professional dancers most of which are members of the Juba Dance Ensemble. The fee for each workshop is $15 and will last 1 hour and 15 minutes. All are welcome to participate.

•             Saturday, June 17th – D. Williams Dance Academy Recital

Time: 3:00 PM

Location: Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River Street

Description: The D. Williams Dance Academy is a dance company that trains all levels of dancers. They offer various classes from Ballet to Acro on a recreational and competitive level to insure we have a place for all types of dancers. They turn interests into passions and take pride in preparing our students for the competitive world of dance as well as the entertainment industry. At DWDA, Dance is Life and Life is Dance. They are located in Chattanooga, TN, Scottsboro, AL and soon Huntsville, AL.

•             Saturday, June 17th – Scratching Your Roots Black Genealogy

Society Open House & New Member Recruitment    

Time: 10:00 AM

Location: The Chattanooga Public Library, 1001 Broad Street

Tickets: FREE

Description: This Black genealogy workshop is designed to provide tools for those of African descent to discover where their ancestors were from. This year we will work to form Our Ancestors Research Society. 

•             Saturday, June 17th – Legacy Music Festival – Featuring Jazz Guitarist

Eric Essix     

Time: 8:00 PM

Location: Miller Park, 910 Market Street

Description: On Saturday, June 17th the Legacy Music Festival will present Eric Essix in concert. Over a period of more than 34 years and now 28 full length album releases, Eric Essix has maintained a steady flow of new music that continues to push the boundaries of contemporary jazz. Following the success of his Songs From The Deep project, Eric recently released his 28th album entitled STRiDE on his Essential Recordings label, again distributed by Lightyear Entertainment/Virgin Music/UMG.

•             Sunday, June 18th – 4th Annual Black Dads Matter Father’s Day

                                               Gospel/Jazz Brunch             

Time: 12:30 Brunch, 2:00 Concert

Location: Waterhouse Pavilion in Miller Park, 850 Market Street

Tickets: $45 Click Here For Tickets

This year’s concert will be performed by members of the hit musical The Color Purple. They will be performing sings songs from the show and other gospel favorites. The event climaxes with the awarding of the 4th Annual Extraordinary Father of The Year Award.

•             Monday, June 19th – Juneteenth Commemoration Ceremony & Concert –

        Oscar Michaux Black Film Festival.

Time: 12:00 Noon –

Location:  The Walker Theater inside the Memorial Auditorium

Tickets:  FREE 

All of Greater Chattanooga & Hamilton County is invited to join us for the 158th Annual Juneteenth Independence Day Commemoration Ceremony. The ceremony will include the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and the singing of Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice” and other freedom songs.

Immediately following the ceremony will begin our Oscar Michaux Black Film festival. Our film festival highlights films made by local Black film makers. We also feature films, including documentaries, made by national and international Black film makers.

Oscar Micheaux (1884 – 1951) was a pioneering African-American author, filmmaker, and without a doubt the most famous producer of race films. In 1919, he formed his own movie production company and became the first African-American to ever make a film shown in “white” movie theaters. Over his illustrious career, Micheaux wrote, produced and directed forty-four feature-length films and wrote seven novels, one of which was a national bestseller.

Given the times, his accomplishments in publishing and film are both unprecedented and awe-inspiring. He used his art to portray truer narratives of the Black experience and to combat the racism of the times, as captured so neatly in D.W. Griffith’s notorious film, ‘The Birth of a Nation’.

The full schedule of films & panel discussion as well as Special Guest to be announced soon!

•             June 1st – 19th – Princesses & Prince Project

Time: They will make appearances throughout the festival

Locations: All over.

Description:  Last year we introduced three historical African princesses, Warrior Princess Amina, Elizabeth of Toro and Princess Taytu Betul. This year we will introduce their male counterparts, Pharaoh Alara, Shaka Zulu and Mansa Musa. Each actor has learned the history of their character are able to educate the audience as a group or as they speak one on one with festival goers.

All will soon be available for public appearances, birthday parties, school, recreation centers, churches, Black History Month events and more.

Please visit our website for additional information about our event: BlackArtsAndIdeasFest.com