The 17th Annual African American Festival Brings Thousands to Promenade Park

Sandy Spang, Rev. Willie Perryman, Suzette Cowell, Countilwoman Vanice Williams, Aletha Easterly, Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz

By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter

The 17th African American Festival which was organized by the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union was held on Saturday, August 6. Thousands of individuals and families gathered at Promenade Park in downtown Toledo to enjoy an afternoon of music, family and fresh air. The gates opened at 1:00 p.m. with a series of live musical performers beginning at 2:00 p.m.

“This festival is such a wonderful event. The turnout was great. The music was great and I’m so enjoying myself,” shared Alethea Easterly, festival volunteer.

During an intermission, Suzette Cowell, CEO of Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, and various elected officials shared an announcement about the credit union’s next expansion. “We started the credit union 17 years ago at the corner of Detroit and Junction and we had 800 visitors,” said Cowell. “Today we’re excited to announce that we are going to provide an opportunity to revitalize the community. Dorr Street used to have over 70 minority-owned businesses and we’re breaking ground on a new development to relaunch opportunities with a resource center.”

The TUFCU expansion will be directly across Dorr Street from the existing facility and will include expanded offices and services for credit union members along with business resources for the neighborhoods in the area.

MCs Big Trice and Toi Creel

Immediately following the announcement, Cowell and Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s signatures were taken on a contract to confirm the groundbreaking expansion.

“I’m so proud of Suzette and the credit union’s board. This is all due to her leadership,” explained Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.

“If you’re from Junction and Englewood, you know what this means? We will own something. This is for Black folks,” explained Vanice Williams, Toledo City Council member.

In addition to the festival, festivities included a prayer breakfast on July 15. The breakfast was held at the Glass City Metroparks Pavilion and honored five individuals: David Ross, creative placemaking coordinator of The Arts Commission; Adam Levine, CEO of Toledo Museum of Art; Rev. Perryman Jr, DMin, pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church and president of Toledo Chapter of NAACP; Sonia Flunder-McNair, CEO of Urban Wholistics and Suzanne Rorick, executive director of Toledo Opera.

The Annual Parade, sponsored by Health Partners of Western Ohio on Saturday, July 15, started at Dorr and Detroit and ended at Nelson Grace Park.

Featured entertainment: The Whispers, The Zapp Band, Sunshine Anderson, Troop, Lyfe Jennings, Comedian Keith Bender; Local Entertainment: Aayan Naim, The Good The Bad and The Blues, Intuition, Jay Rush Jennings, Chris Byrd and True Victory, Amandalynn and Arthur Bishop; DJ Money Knox; and Emcees: Toi Creel and Big Trice.

This year’s Festival sponsors were: Urban Wholistics, The University of Toledo, Worship Center, Huntington bank, The Toledo Journal, The Blade, Taylor Automotive Family, Key Bank, Quality Time, Toledo Opera, Mercy College of Ohio, The Mix 95.7fm, Lucas County Commissioners, First Church of God, Toledo Lucas County Port Authority, Lourdes University, City of Toledo, PNC Bank, Walk the Word Church, TARTA, The Sojourner’s Truth newspaper, Toledo Museum of Art, House of Day Funeral Service, Waterford Bank, 13 ABC, City of Toledo Human Relations Commissions, Health Partners of Western Ohio, Jeep Country Federal Credit Union, Friendship Baptist Church, ECDI, Grogan’s Towne and The Juice 107.3 fm.