1Love cultural festival seeks to encourage cultural awareness and self-love

Dr Melba Sampson and Derrick Young, co-founders of the 1Love cultural festival, at a recent press conference.

In the opener to his song, “One Love,” legendary artist Bob Marley said, “One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel good.” And that’s exactly what 1Love Media and Pink Robe Chronicles want to do with the 1Love Cultural Festival: bring people together.

The 1Love Cultural Festival is a two-day event scheduled for June 17-18 that will include musical, visual, spiritual and creative arts to raise black consciousness. According to organizers, the festival is designed to complement and build on the cultural contributions of the late Larry and Silvia Hamlin’s National Black Theater Festival and Cheryl Harry’s June 19 celebration.

Discussing the event at a recent press conference, Dr Melba Sampson, Co-Organizer and Founder of Pink Robe Chronicles, said, “Our goal is to amplify the culture of the African Diaspora and organize an immersive hybrid experience with in-person performances streamed virtually, and developing and maintaining mutually rewarding bonds that foster love of self, love of community, and love of culture.

Dr Sampson said some of the same barriers black communities faced in the 1960s and 1970s are still present today. There is a need to shine a light on the rich black history in this country and the people, art and practices that drive the culture forward.

“By centering and celebrating the culture of the African Diaspora, we will challenge claims that African Americans have no past and clarify that our cultural ingenuity predates the transatlantic slave trade and that our culture does not is not inferior,” Sampson continued.

“A celebration of this magnitude brings us closer to the embodiment of collective work and responsibility, the cooperative economy, faith, unity, purpose, creativity and self-determination.”

The first day of the festival (June 17) will take place at the Stevens Center, 405 4th Street. The day will begin with a free “community conversation” featuring visual artist Elahi Stewart and Hustle Winston-Salem co-founder Daryl Shaw.

Later today, LB the Poet, Phonsarelli, Ely B, Untitled and Soultriiii will take the stage at Stevens Center. Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Dashill Smith will close the day.

The second day of the festival (June 18) will be held at Ramkat, 170 W. 9th Street, and will be headlined by several different panels.

The first panel, “Black Man Lab: We Need You!” will feature attorney Mawuli Davis, activist and retired pastor John Mendez, and Winston-Salem State University professor and Winston-Salem Black Panther Party co-founder Larry Little.

The second panel, titled “Telling Our Stories as We Know Them,” will feature author and theologian Candice Benbow and educator Jana Johnson Davis.

The third panel, “The Artist’s Way,” will begin around noon and will feature international visual artist Angelbert Metoyer.

The final panel of the day titled “Defining Ourselves: Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” will bring together Maurice Foxworth and Dr. Sampson to discuss the ins and outs of starting and sustaining a successful business. Recording artist Tara Lord, violinist Chelsey Green, and Mausiki Scales and The Common Ground Collective are also set to perform on day two of the festival.

The 1Love Cultural Festival will also make stops in Houston, Texas and Miami, Florida later this year. Derrick Young, founder of 1Love Media, said he chose the venues for the festival based on the number of people who have moved there in recent years. “North Carolina as a state, Texas as a state, and Florida as a state are among the top five for people migrating to those states,” Young said.

“That means different ideas, different people, different cultures coming to these states, which means change will eventually happen. And we plan and want to be in these states in these cities when change happens.

John Mendez, a local activist and former pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, said events like the 1Love cultural festival and the annual Juneteenth festival are necessary to keep black culture relevant and alive. He also talked about how the festival and connecting with the culture can help curb some of the violence we’ve seen in recent months.

“There are a lot of conversations going on right now about violence and crime in our city, but what we forget is… when you don’t love yourself and when you feel like your life has no purpose. Importantly, it’s easy to escape and get involved in crime and violence. It’s really a manifestation of how you feel about yourself,” Mendez continued. “Culture is liberating; it’s the only thing that can turn everything upside down. In New York, I was a gangbanger and indulged in all kinds of crazy stuff, but once I connected with the black church and the cultural life of Harlem on the one hand, my life changed.

For more information about the 1Love Cultural Festival, visit www.1lovefestival.com.

Darcy J. Skinner