Juneteenth is the day we celebrate the freedom of the last enslaved people in the United States. Although celebrated annually (excluding Covid) in the Fort Myers/Dunbar Community, this year’s event had an even deeper meaning for many in attendance. On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill establishing Juneteenth National Independence Day as the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.
In celebration of the holiday, Clemente Park was the host site where people from communities here and beyond gathered to enjoy an abundance of food, entertainment, and history. Food trucks and local cooks brought out their best foods including ribs, boiled peanuts, fried fish, crabs, kabobs, ice cream, and sweet treats. This year’s local Juneteenth celebration was sponsored by the Dunbar Festival Committee. It is the hope of local organizers to bring Juneteenth to the level of the Dunbar Easter Parade.
Photos by Jacquie Matthews Williams.
Sunday, June 26, 2022 at 4:00 p.m., was a great day to celebrate fine arts and culture. Mount Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church of Fort Myers, FL. held their Annual Gospel Musical Concert in the auditorium of Dunbar High School. World renowned “Songbird of the South,” Ms. Dottie Peoples along with Mister Jamarien P. Moore, BET’s Sunday Best Season V Finalist, as the Master of the Ceremonies wowed the sold out crowd.
The Minister of Music of Mount Olive AME Church and Dunbar High School’s principal, Mr. Carl Burnside Sr., welcomed the excited crowd. Bishop Halsey Watkins Jr., Pastor of Jesus Christ Outreach Center and Mrs. Melanie Weatherspoon, president of the Sanctuary Choir of Mount Olive A.M.E. Church, set the tone for worship through invocation and prayer.
The concert opened with the Voices of Praise from Mount Olive A.M.E. Church followed by Mr. Jamarien P. Moore sharing his gift of song. Mrs. Lucille O’Neal, a longtime friend of Ms. Peoples and the mother of NBA Player, Shaquille O’Neal, honored the audience with her presence.
The crowed enthusiastically praised and enjoyed the goodness of God. Some audience members even began dancing with a "Soul Train" line of praise and adoration.
The church's beloved spiritual leaders, the Rev. James C Givens and First Lady Robert Givens, recognized and thanked everyone for supporting this event. Members of the assembly was blessed in receiving five 75-inch TVs given by the Givens team as door prizes.
The spirit of collaboration with the Dunbar Community was visible throughout the planning and implementation of the event. The evening of Christian fellowship and celebration was an ecumenical expression of giving God praise and adoration.
The members of Mount Olive AME Church are extremely grateful for the community supporters and leaders and for understanding that “Work is all divine.”
Pictures by Jacquie Matthews Williams.
Karen Watson of Impact Dunbar launched Dreamville on Thursday, July 16, 2022, in partnership with Quality Life Center’s summer program. Tasheekia Perry Harris is facilitating a Dreamlab for the teen girls to empower them to dream big and articulate their dreams to get support for bringing them into reality from members of the community.
Dreamville is also producing a series called Dunbar Women of Impact. These videos will feature the following women who grew up in Dunbar and pursued their dreams: Teresa Watkins Brown, Cheryl Glover, Dr. Shadreka McIntosh, LaShaun Middlebrooks Collier, Tiffany Powe Salters, Denise Philip-Luster, and Sheena Torrez-Nunez.
If you are interested in getting involved, save the date for these upcoming Dreamville events happening at Collaboratory in Fort Myers, Florida:
Non-Profit Event: Saturday, July 30th – 9am to 12pm
Here's a bit about this event:
* Participate in the Dreamville Conversation
* This is an opportunity for non-profits to hear the dreams these young ladies have for themselves and their community.
* Design an experience for these young ladies
* The non-profit will then be given an opportunity to design a unique experience that only their organization can provide
Dreamville Inaugural Event: Thursday, August 4th – 6pm -9 pm
* Prospective funders who feel compelled to support young ladies from the Dunbar community to participate in a one-of-a-kind experience delivered by a non-profit
* Listen to Non-profits share their unique Dreamville experience for these young ladies
* This will be an opportunity for Prospective Funders to hear about the dreams of the young ladies and the unique experience non-profits want to create for them
* Prospective Funders can give to the experience that moves them
* This is where Prospective Funders can fund a dream that aligns to their passions
To learn more about Impact Dunbar, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.