Rocky Mount Area News

Recognition of Thelonious Monk Kicks Off 22nd Harambee Festival May 4th
4/24/2012
General

Thelonious Monk, a native jazz musician who composed over 70 classics and whose work is immortalized in the Smithsonian Institute, will be posthumously recognized by Rocky Mount residents during the opening of the Harambee Festival, Friday, May 4, 2012 at 5 p.m. The public is invited to an unveiling of a NC Highway Historical Marker named in his honor.

Sam Stephenson of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and the Jazz Loft Project, Ruth Bullard from Around the Y community (birthplace of Thelonious Monk named after the North leg of the Y railroad tracks junction) and Monk family Historian, Pamela Monk Kelley of New Haven, Ct., will provide remarks. Monk will also be acknowledged as an area resident with the naming of NE Main Street and E. Thomas Street as Thelonious Monk Plaza. Monk was born on Oct. 10, 1917 on Green Street, also
known as Red Row in the Around the Y community. In 1922, Monk and his mother relocated to New York City.

The celebration of Monk is only one aspect of this year’s Harambee Festival, comprised of a weekend of activities which promote and celebrate the heritage and cultural development of Rocky Mount’s African American community. On the opening day, thepublic is also invited to open house tours in recognition of the Douglas Block, to take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. During that time, several downtown businesses will also hold seminars in the Booker T. Theater, such as Google for Seniors. One of the recent businesses, Bath Shops, will demonstrate proper hand care. In addition, there will be information provided on estate planning and wills, health screenings for pre-schoolers and much more.

There will be a reception at Four Season’s Restaurant, 209 N. Church St., from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The dedication to Monk will continue in the Booker T. Theater at 7 p.m. with historical reflections on his life. A jazz concert will follow, featuring jazz artists Co Co and The Winston.

“The Festival’s strategy is to bring families, friends and communities together to celebrate the African American heritage and culture through music, arts and crafts,” says Joyce M. Dickens, executive director of the event sponsor, Rocky Mount/Edgecombe Community Development Corporation (RMECDC). “It is also a celebration of the restoration of the historic Douglas Block. The Festival usually draws an audience from across N.C. and the southern region of the U.S.”

Families and friends will gather at the Douglas Block for the continuation of the Harambee Festival on Saturday, May 5, 2012. Open house and tours will take place at 11 a.m. in the Douglas Block. From 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., there will be arts, crafts, vendors, free kids’ rides and food. From 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., there will be live music. The Harambee Festival is sponsored by RMECDC and co-sponsored by the City of Rocky Mount and The Phoenix Historical Society, Inc. The Phoenix Historical Society, Inc. was organized in 2001 with the purpose to recover, record and promote the unique history of Edgecombe County as experienced by members of its African America community. This is the third successful NC Highway Historical Marker request and unveiling for the Society.

For more information on this year’s Harambee Festival, call 252-442-5178.

Photo by  W. Eugene Smith

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