Art, food, history, music, and dancing! These were all part of the recent Juneteenth and Black Music Month celebration hosted by the Robson Ranch African American Social Group (AASG). The event was held on June 19, at the Greater Denton Arts Council/Patterson-Appleton Arts Center. Georgina Ngozi, Executive Director of the center, kicked off the evening with a heartfelt welcome. Ms. Ngozi was overjoyed to see the place filled with people of color. A rarity at her facility. The AASG committee vowed to continue to patronize the center.
Tiffany Ramzy, social coordinator for the AASG, gave a few remarks and then turned the microphone over to AASG committee member, Jackie Ford. Jackie and her husband Dr. David Ford personally sponsored the music and catering for the evening. They shared videos and photos of their recent visit to the Juneteenth Legacy Project Headquarters in Galveston, Texas. There were photos of the Juneteenth historical marker, Juneteenth mural, and an impromptu educational video by Samuel Collins, III, (Certified Tourism Ambassador in Galveston), on why Juneteenth should be celebrated.
Dr. David Ford shared a few remarks about growing up on the same street with Opal Lee, who has since gone on to win national fame as a leader of the effort to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Dr. Ford had completed a three-mile march in Fort Worth with Ms. Opal Lee on the morning of Juneteenth.
Catering was provided by Lush Catering Co., Dallas, Texas (Eva Wilkins, owner). The menu consisted of southern collard greens salad, brown sugar and butter sweet potatoes, southern seasoned chicken tenders with bourbon mustard sauce, and peach cobbler with whipped cream. Cheese and crackers, potato salad, BBQ bolo, and red punch were provided by committee members. Note, red is more than a color. It’s the official soul food drink. It’s a flavor! In the soul food tradition, we don’t get caught up with cherry, strawberry, or tropical punch—you just call it red. (Paraphrased from Adrian Miller’s book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time).
After dining, guests were encouraged to visit the two onsite art galleries where art and poetry by local artists were on display as part of the Soul Arts Renewal exhibit. Surprisingly there was a lovely poem on display entitled Neighbors, written by Robson Ranch resident Joan Wall.
AASG committee member Renee Smith gave away some door prizes, including a unique monopoly set entitled Ebony-opoly. This game intersects history, family fun, and financial acumen. Ebony-opoly was created in Arlington, Texas, by Rev. Dwayne Washington and associates. Note, Rev. Washington ran for mayor of Arlington, Texas, in 2019.
The evening was filled with soulful jazz sounds created by musicians Tom Brownlee (saxophone) and Louis Thomas (keyboard), and the evening ended on a happy note with guests taking to the dance floor.