In observance of Juneteenth which officially became a federal holiday this year, we are highlighting the black arts community making a huge impact in the Pittsburgh area. But firstly, what is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is an annual holiday observing the end of slavery in the U.S. and marks the day (June 19, 1865) when news of emancipation reached people in the deepest parts of the former Confederacy in Galveston, Texas (Wall Street Journal, 2021). Since then Juneteenth has been celebrated every year by African Americans all over the country, in celebration of culture, food, music, and much more!
Demaskus Theater Collective, having emerged from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh in 2012, is a national service-oriented collective of fifteen black artists and administrators seeking to make known the messages of the black community in Pittsburgh through the production and presentation of quality, compassionate, and inclusive artistic events. Recent events include the imaginative performance of the Opera piece Song from the Uproar, presented at the 2021 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, performed by Amanda Van Story Lewis, The Kassia Ensemble, and DEMASKUS Theater Collective.
Today at 7:00 p.m., DEMASKUS Theater Collective brings the online presentation of Black Mary, which tells the incredible untold story of Mary Fields, the first African American female United States Star Route mail carrier. “Black women are the most resilient and resourceful people on the planet,” shared Shaunda Miles McDill who founded DEMASKUS in 2006. “Time and time again, we have delivered ourselves, our loved ones, communities, and nations. Today’s most prominent Black women blaze trails because women like Mary Fields traveled those trails first. You don’t have to be Black or a woman to buy a ticket, but this experience centers and celebrates the lives of Black women who raised this nation’s babies (even while they themselves were enslaved) and continue to undergird every facet of our society.”
The BIPOC Pittsburgh arts community is often overlooked but organizations such DEMASKUS, The Legacy Arts Project, #NotWhite Collective, and several more are helping to give a voice to the unsung. On this Juneteenth, do your part to support the local black artists in your community!This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.