N.Y. Nathiri, executive director of the Association to Preserve The Eatonville Community Incorporated, (P.E.C.) speaks on the importance of the Annual Zora! Festival.
The Eatonville, Florida’s Historic Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities takes place January 20th through January 28th.
Van Buren: Why is it significant to have a festival such as this?
Nathiri: To celebrate the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston: the writer, the folklorist, and the anthropologist. To celebrate the historic significance of the town, commonly known as the oldest incorporated African American municipality in the United States. To celebrate a cultural contribution which people of African American ancestry have made to the world. That’s who we are.
Van Buren: You mentioned that you have Sonia Sanchez and David Banner both scheduled to speak at the festival. Can I ask why Sonia Sanchez and David Banner?
Nathiri: This year the theme is “Celebrating the Cultural, Arts And Community Action Connection” in part because that’s what we’ve done as an organization. We have utilized culture as an activist way to preserve and to continue to preserve this community. So, a person like Sonia Sanchez, she’s been fighting the good fight; using her art form for years. So, she’s an Open Plenary speaker on Thursday the 25th of January, 8:30 at Rollins College.
This is inter-generational, so you’ve got to be able to bring in the millennials. David Banner is a respectable commentator. We’re doing an evening around him with the highlight being a conversation between him and Joshua Johnson.
Van Buren: So the bottom line is the history and the culture that is Eatonville needed to be preserved. You wanted to make sure that it’s understood that this isn’t just some small town, there’s some significance here?
Nathiri: You’re exactly right. When you’re facing an existential threat as we were facing, which we still face, you panic; there’s no other way to say it. We were told that if you can keep the county from from turning the dirt for five years you will win. It’s really something because you’re not supposed to win these kinds of fights. But that part we were able to do. We were able to do it because of the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities. Zora Neale Hurston saved this town.
ZORA! Festival is a multi-day, multi-disciplinary event that celebrates the life and work of 20th Century Renaissance woman Zora Neale Hurston; her hometown, Eatonville and the cultural contributions people of African ancestry have made to the United States and the world.
“Hurston, who is revered for her timeless body of work and iconic stature, remains one of the most read writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Her life and legacy continue to fascinate festival loyalists worldwide. As festival producers, we at the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community (P.E.C.) are proud that ZORA! Festival has become nationally recognized as a cultural heritage tourism model,” stated N. Y. Nathiri, Executive Director of the P.E.C.
Festival headliners include distinguished elders, fine artists and legendary entertainers. Festival producers have put together a stellar amalgam of educational programming, cultural presentations, artists’ talks, expert workshops, heritage musical concerts, themed parties and special events. Featured guests include poet activist Sonia Sanchez, co-authors Sen. Bob Graham and Chris Hand, cultural commentator David Banner, and national entertainment favorites The ZAPP Band and the Motown “Tribute” Review Show.
For additional information on ZORA! Festival 2018 events visit www.zorafestival.org