A Celebration of Black History and Culture: The Roswell Roots Festival 2021


Have you ever heard of The Roswell Roots Festival? For 20 years, the city of Roswell has held this festival to celebrate and educate others in a variety of aspects of the Black community. 

Junior, Carmen Sotunde, highlights the significance of this event, saying, “the historic accomplishments and achievements made by Black people in the face of constant adversity and rampant racism in America must be acknowledged.” 

In a year of unprecedented times, the festival’s organizers made sure this event could be enjoyed by all with both virtual and in-person events throughout the month of February. This year’s celebrations focus on the arts, inventions, music, and history of the Black community through the forms of keynote speakers, exhibits, workshops, competitions, and more. 

Jordan Tisdale, a fellow junior, emphasizes, saying “it is important to celebrate Black history in our BT community because now more than ever racial injustice is finally being brought to light.” The Roswell Roots Festival is also family-friendly which Tisdale recognizes especially as high school students, saying, “it is every person’s duty to recognize the value in any and all races.” 

Looking to learn about the artistic works by members of the Black community? The artistic masterpieces created by members of the Black community including Andrea McKenzie and Daniel Hodges have been spectacularly displayed in exhibits throughout the month. The artistic contributions from the Black community can also be enjoyed through creative workshops, dancing classes, music lessons, and more. Other creations can be appreciated virtually on the Roswell Roots Festival website, and the websites of other Black artists in the area. 

Looking to increase your knowledge on the contributions of the Black community? There is an exhibit to learn more about the many inventions of members of the Black community. While taking in these artistic works and learning about inventions from members of the Black community, listen for the calm cello music by OkCello, the stories from Babatunde, or the spoken words from the comfort of your home. Junior, Esmee Nastase, elaborates on the necessity to learn about the Black community’s contributions, saying, “living in the South where racism was prevalent, we should all make an effort to understand and appreciate all people with different cultures and backgrounds.”

As well as art and entertainment from members of the Black community, keynote speakers are available both virtually and in-person. Mechal Roe is one of the many speakers in this series who is a published author and illustrator who collaborated with Vice President Kamala Harris on her novel Superheroes are Everywhere. Birdel Jackson is another speaker who will share his personal, family history with slavery as an introduction to his novel, Our Journey Across the Centuries. Tisdale notes that this topic is especially important, saying, “The history of the Black community should be celebrated the most because I think many people out there do not truly realize what African-Americans have overcome. Slavery didn’t happen in our current lifespan, so I feel like people push it off, when in fact we should never stop learning about the history of African-Americans.” Other in-person and virtual speakers include authors, playwrights, artists, and designers. 

Although we are nearing the end of the month, there is still time to participate in this celebration! More information on the upcoming events are available on the Roswell Roots Festival Site. Sotunde notes the uniqueness of this festival for our BT community, saying, “It is an opportunity to bring to light the numerous contributions that Black people have made to society in the face of systemic oppression.”