This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.
A D.C.-based actor is performing a one-man show on Saturday as part of Montgomery County’s Juneteenth celebration.
Vincent Stovall, an actor, poet and music composer, will be doing his own brand of storytelling when he performs “I Got Somethin’ to Say and I’m Gon’ Say It” during the Juneteenth: Journey to Freedom festival at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, Maryland.
‘A story that needs to be told’
Though it became a federal holiday only two years ago, some consider Juneteenth the oldest African American holiday.
The holiday celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S., but according to a recent Pew Research study, only 28 states and D.C. recognize Juneteenth as a public holiday. During public holidays, state government offices are closed and state workers get a paid day-off.
Stovall says Juneteenth is a day that should be recognized nationwide.
“The freedom of our people two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed is something that needs to be celebrated, and a story that needs to be told,” he said.
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The performance is based on poems he’s written over the years that “address family issues, they deal with racism, with loss.”
While the pieces may make some people feel uncomfortable, he says that’s what art is supposed to do, “It’s supposed to disturb those who are comfortable and comfort those who are disturbed.”
Stovall calls Juneteenth the final chapter of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Ohio native attended graduate school at Howard University and said the holiday is a time to reflect and look at the accomplishments of African Americans.
“We need to understand our worth, our struggle, achievements and values and genius,” Stovall said.
To find out more about the Juneteenth Festival on Saturday, visit the theater’s website.