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Virginia Beach ViBe District commemorates Juneteenth through music and poetry

There are several Juneteenth celebrations across Hampton Roads. At the ViBe creative district, musicians and poets came together for a cultural celebration.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — History can be told in a lot of ways, and sometimes it's told best through music and poetry.  

At Virginia Beach’s Vibe Create District, the usual weekend market turned into a Juneteenth celebration with musicians taking over the stage for a small pop-up performance.

Mayor Bobby Dyer was there to kick things off.

“Our community, Virginia Beach, is so strong and we want to make sure everybody feels included,” Dyer said.

According to Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond of the Virginia African American Cultural Center, it's about recognizing an important moment in US history.

“Music always transcends. It’s a universal language," Dr. Ross-Hammond said. “It is your history; it is American’s history. Because we’re all part of this together.” 

The Center partnered with Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs to organize the event, Saturday.

Cultural Programs & Grants Coordinator Hilary Plate said she wanted to celebrate Juneteenth through the performing arts and explore the African influences behind traditional American music. 

"This morning is a light toe dip in the history of a very traditional American art form that is commonly misunderstood," she said, pointing to a banjo. "You can see the similarities between the akonting - which has got about 10 different names - and the banjo." 

This is the first time Juneteenth is being celebrated as a federal holiday, but the second time Virginia is recognizing the importance of the day, after lawmakers made it a state holiday, last year. 

“We made our decision to make it a holiday in the city before they made it a national holiday and the thing is, we stepped to the plate last year too when we gave the employees off because we want them to feel valued and respected," Dyer said.

The event features the Tidewater Bluegrass Music Association, St. Julien’s Creek Revival, Raw Beets, Teens with a Purpose Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate Reed Williams, and Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador Yunseo Chung.