Between the Lines: The liberating power of culture

Between the Lines: The liberating power of culture
May 18
17:01 2022

1 Love Cultural Festival to inspire love of self, culture, spirit and community

By Rev. John Mendez and Derrick Young 

There is a lot of discussion and concern about the escalating violence and crime in the city and nation. It is always easier to blame the poor and the oppressed (a term certain social classes are reluctant to use) for the social problems that plague our cities. It’s easier to blame parents, especially single parents whose struggle to survive has become more and more difficult each day. 

People go to work every day and still have to apply for public assistance. In the absence of a living wage, it’s almost impossible for working people to make ends meet and take care of children simultaneously. No child is born with criminal instincts in any race. The sociopathological impact of racialization as it affects the least, last, lost, less, and left out helps to shape the psyche of oppressed persons, which too often turn them against themselves. 

The powers that be expect law enforcement to fix the mess that public policies and corporate greed create, which they cannot do and should not have to do. 

Yet, we are hopeful that we can eradicate the crises that plague our cities. Public policies have often underestimated and ignored the power of culture in the lives of Black people and Black communities. There continues to be an attempt to denounce, denude, and degrade the culture of Black people and people of color. The manner in which Black people are portrayed will make you think all Black people are criminals. To deny and distort Black culture, however, does not destroy it. Black culture has the potential to abolish crime, violence and discrimination from our communities. 

1 Love Cultural Festival is an innovative cultural program that seeks to complement and build on the cultural contributions of the late Larry and Silvia Hamlin’s National Black Theater Festival and Cheryl Harry’s Juneteenth celebrations and Hikim Otesia Dancers, all powerful contributions to the cultural life in Winston-Salem. 1 Love Cultural Festival will host a two-day event June 17-18 in Winston Salem that will include musical, visual, spiritual, and creative arts to raise Black consciousness including Black youth, but also extended to all people to be themselves in positive, creative ways. From the Harlem Renaissance to civil rights, Black Power, and now Black Lives Matter movements, freedom songs, protest poems, and innovative textile and digital art have expressed the plight of a country plagued by interface oppressive structures like racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, health inequity, and militarism, to name a few. 

Picking up on Marvin Gay’s famous hit recording, “What’s Going On,” ‘You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some lovin’ here today ,,, only love can conquer hate.’ The primary purposes of the 1 Love Cultural Festival are twofold: First, to use music and art as a prescription to center love, not as a pithy platitude, but as a radical act to illuminate and address issues pummeling underrepresented communities blighted by conditions brought on by health inequity, class disparity, race, gender, and sexual identity discrimination. We believe the key to eradicating stigmas connected to health status is love of self, love of culture, love of spirit, and love of community. 

Second, we believe that education, advocacy, and affirmation inspire change and change is culture and art in action. Our goal is to engage communities and individuals at the highest risk for health inequities. Our focus is on HIV, stopping the violence, and inspiring young people to use their talents to bring out the best in them. We believe that culture creates space for radical openness and expression, moving us ever closer to self-love and love for community. Love is Life. 


Celebrating and centering African Diasporan music, arts, innovation, empowerment, and health equity 

June 17-18, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

September 9-10, Houston, Texas 

December 2-3, Miami, Florida 

Tickets on sale now at 

“You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some lovin’ here today … only love can conquer hate.” -Marvin Gaye 

Instagram: @1Love Festival, Facebook: @1 LoveFestival, Twitter: @1 LoveFestivalUSA

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