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If you haven’t heard of yet, we got you. It’s a festival that takes place in the LA neighborhood of — you guessed it — Leimert Park that celebrates music, arts, and ideas of Black people from the area. The event occurs on Juneteenth every year and this go-round is no different. Featuring live performances from local talent and good vibes on Saturday (June 19) in Leimert Park Village, the festivities are strictly by us and for us.
A online flyer for the event reads: “A true celebration of Black liberation through culture, commerce and cooperative economics. This means, we’re leaning on each other and our collective buying power (of 15 trillion dollars) to build the first ever intergenerational educational arts and music festival powered by THE PEOPLE.”
In anticipation of the big day, REVOLT spoke to Addis Daniel, co-curator of Leimert Park Rising and founder of NU AFRICA. Check out our chat about the event below and, hopefully, we’ll see you there!
Talk to us about Leimert Park Rising. What is it exactly?
Leimert Park Rising is a Juneteenth commemorative event in succession to the historical Juneteenth Heritage Festival in Leimert Park from years past. It is an acknowledgment of the first Juneteenth in 1865 and a celebration of Black freedom and culture through art, music, food and community with an additional emphasis on cooperative economics and self governance.
What’s the significance of the event occurring on Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is a landmark moment in the history of Black people who are descendants of slaves in America. To commemorate this day in Leimert Park, a community that has uniquely to guard itself from heavy outside cultural influences for over 50 years, is truly an honor. Black cultural expression has had a chance to flourish in Leimert Park and when we think about Juneteenth, we understand that it was a day of realization and emancipation. That sense of liberation is very much the spirit of the culture here. It only makes sense that we would commemorate Black liberation and freedom with Leimert Park Rising on Juneteenth.
Tell us about the acts who’ll be hitting the stage this year.
This year, I am super excited to see some of South Central LA’s biggest and brightest such as DJ Battlecat, G-Funk All Stars, and Terrace Martin and Friends perform. I am also especially excited for the local independent artists and DJs. Jimetta Rose and Georgia Anne Muldrow created a Juneteenth anthem that they are performing this year alongside Jimetta’s choir “Voices of Creation,” and VERBS is programming a Bananas set on the RAS G’s stage. Not to mention, THURZ is throwing his Party In My Living Room!
My brand/movement NÜ AFRICA will have a stage this year where we have curated some of the dopest underground DJs in the city. The mission of NÜ AFRICA is to unify the African diaspora via sound and movement — these DJs are definitely pushing the boundaries of Black sound in a major way.
Do you feel like the LA music scene deserves more attention and credit for its contributions?
Oh definitely. I think everyone knows about the west coast because of Gangsta rap in the 90s or even more recently Nipsey Hussle/YG/DJ Mustard/Kendrick Lamar or the resurgence of the west coast Jazz scene with Kamasi Washington and Terrace Martin. But, I think LA has such a diverse range of sounds that aren’t highlighted enough. A lot of indie artists who are coming out of LA are powerful.
Why is Leimert Park such a special place for music and the arts?
There is no other place like Leimert Park in the U.S. and maybe even the world. So many talented acts have come through Leimert Park and have called the Crenshaw district home. From Dwight Trible and the World Stage to Barbara Morrison to Fernando Pullum to Sika to Ben Caldwell and the KAOS Network, we have living legends who are stakeholders in the village. They have seen and experienced so much in this city, and they have not only lived to tell the multi-layered story, but also have created some really beautiful cultural scenes for us to share and experience for generations. All the art and culture that you see coming through the village, we have them to thank for laying the foundations.
What makes Leimert Park Rising unlike any other music festival?
It is a festival that is created by the people for the people. We did not want our message or our intentions to be co-opted by anyone. The organizers of Leimert Park Rising are a collective of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and community members who prioritize Black joy, and we are here to connect the city and to work co-operatively with our community. It is not always easy and not everyone agrees, but we are family and in this family, Leimert Park Rising’s main priority is the culturally rich, bold, powerful community we serve. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be in the largest Black community on the West Coast celebrating Juneteenth?
What’s your mission for curating Leimert Park Rising?
My personal mission is to decolonize the narrative of Juneteenth or take the commemoration away from the white gaze. I want us to revel in the history of our ancestors that fought and died for our freedom here in America. Freedom wasn’t just “given” to us, we were not simply released. There is a long journey filled with the stories of so many of our ancestors behind the fight to freedom and that day in Galveston Texas in 1865, and we continue that journey to this very day. But, one thing is for sure, our freedom was and always is ours — even when our physical bodies may not have been free during slavery. I want this festival to be the safe space for us to commemorate and own the narrative of our fight to physical and metaphorical freedom. Freedom will always live in us and we will fight to keep the spirit of freedom alive.