In a moment that feels like it was pulled from an episode of “Atlanta,” a Juneteenth soul food festival in Arkansas was canceled as quickly as it was unveiled after word spread that all of the “featured hosts” for the event were white.
Plans for a Juneteenth soul food festival in Little Rock, Ark. collapsed Tuesday (April 26) after backlash erupted on social media when an advertising proof of the event was leaked, the Arkansas Times reported.
Slated for June 17, the event to commemorate the emancipation of slaves featured “3 floors of food from some of Arkansas’ top restaurants and caterers.” The poster also showed the photos of three white people who would host the gathering.
It sparked an immediate uproar on Twitter, causing the event organizer Muskie Harris, who is Black, to cancel the soul food festival.
Somebody has to explain this to me. pic.twitter.com/osl0DDJyk4
— ??Black?? Aziz ??aNANsi?? (@Freeyourmindkid) April 26, 2022
“I got a rope around my neck and I’m tarred and feathered over an event that’s already dead,” Harris, a former University of Arkansas football player and Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, told the Times.
He stated that the leaked poster was not the final version, which was supposed to focus on a theme of unity. “It just got perceived in the wrong way, and my sponsors said to leave it alone. It’s dead. It’s dried up,” he added.
Arkansas Urban League CEO Scott D. Hamilton posted a message on Facebook Tuesday (April 26) denying rumors the organization was involved with the event.
“The Urban League of the State of Arkansas is and was not involved in any aspect of this program,” the statement said.” We are concerned of the appearance of participation without our approval. It’s unfortunate that some failed to recognize the optics and the absolute need to engage prior to this being developed.”
President Biden signed legislation in 2021 that made Juneteenth a federal holiday, becoming the first created since Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in 1983.
The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, the day enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were informed that they were freed two years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation.