Thousands flock downtown for closing NBTF events

Photo by Tevin Stinson

Thousands flock downtown for closing NBTF events
August 10
05:00 2017

The National Black Theatre Festival closed in exciting fashion last weekend as thousands of people flocked downtown to get a feel of “Black Theatre Holy Ground.” Just before midnight on Saturday, Aug. 5, Otesha Creative Arts Ensemble led a star-studded parade through the streets of the city.

The parade began at the Marriott Hotel on North Cherry Street and ended outside the Stevens Center. As the sounds of authentic African music echoed through the streets, bystanders stopped in their tracks to get a glimpse at some of the biggest names in theater and performing arts.  The towering performer on stilts caught some eyes as well.

“This is wonderful. I think they should have this every year,” said a city native outside the Benton Convention Center.

“Each year it seems to get better, and right now I think this is exactly what our community needs. Stuff like this can build strong communities.”

While standing outside the Stevens Center, author and educator Olasope O. Oyelaran, officially ended the festival. Oyelaran who has been involved with the festival since its inception in 1989. also honored the lives of African Americans who have made major contributions to society. Names like Maya Angelou, Nina Simone, and of course Larry Leon Hamlin echoed from the corner of W. 4th and Marshall Streets when Oyelaran asked the crowd to shout the names of those who influenced them. 

“Although they are not here physically, they are with us spiritually,” Oyelaran said.

After the closing ceremony, Otesha and the thousands who joined the ensemble for the night kept the party going at Merschel Plaza. During his closing remarks, Oyelaran encouraged everyone to remember to L.O.V.E., referring to the acronym created by film maker A.J. Ali, which stands for Learn, Open, Volunteer, Empower.

“L.O.V.E. is the answer,” said Oyelaran. “Go with L.O.V.E. and come back here with L.O.V.E.  in 24 months when we reconvene for the 2019 National Black Theatre Festival.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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