June 19 soul food festival canceled in Arkansas after panel of all-white hosts revealed

In a moment that feels like it was pulled from an episode of ‘Atlanta,’ a June 19 soul food festival in Arkansas was canceled as quickly as it was revealed after the rumor rumored that all of the “star hosts” at the event were white.

On Tuesday, a Twitter user shared a picture of a poster for the event, with the caption: “Someone needs to explain this to me.”

The June 17 event, which was to take place at Little Rock War Memorial Stadium, promised “3 floors of food from some of the best restaurants and caterers in Arkansas.” He also announced three star hosts: Rex Nelson, editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Heather Baker, President and Publisher of AY Media Group; and David Bazzel, a radio and television personality from Arkansas. All three individuals are white.

June 19, which was finally recognized as a federal holiday in 2021 under President Joe Biden, commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Its name comes from June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas issued a general order. No. 3, which announced that, in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, “all slaves are free”.

Several months later, the 13th Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the last four border states that had not been under the order of former President Abraham Lincoln.

As Vice President Kamala Harris said when ratifying federal holiday status, Juneteenth has gone by many different names, including Black Independence Day — which is why the discrepancy between the so-called The event’s celebration of black history and the apparent erasure of black voices as “Featured Hosts” was so blatant.

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Blatant enough that some Twitter users spent much of yesterday wondering if the poorly designed event poster was real or maybe some kind of prank. “Please tell me this is wrong. Please,” one user wrotewhile another joked: “There will be raisins in the potato salad.”

As the Arkansas Times reported on Tuesday afternoon, the poster shared on social media was evidence that somehow got leaked. Regardless, event organizer Muskie Harris, a former black Razorback football player and former Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, announced he was ending the event, which was supposed to theme “unity”.

“I have a noose around my neck, and I’m tarred and feathered from an event that’s already died,” Harris told the outlet. “He was just viewed in a bad way, and my sponsors said leave him alone. He’s dead. It’s over.”


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The Arkansas branch of The Urban League, which was one of the organizations listed on the poster as a beneficiary, quickly took to Facebook to clarify that it was not even aware of such a planned event. .

“Please read – the Arkansas State Urban League is and has not been involved in any aspect of this program,” the organization said Tuesday afternoon. “We are concerned about the appearance of participation without our approval. It is unfortunate that some have not recognized the optics and the absolute need to engage before this is developed.”

Although he will be away this Juneteenth, Harris told the Arkansas Times that he may try to plan another event next year.

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