First-ever virtual Savannah Black Heritage Festival brings more accessible celebration of Black history

Savannah Black Heritage Festival

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – For the first time, Savannah Black Heritage Festival went completely virtual all month long.

As the festival winds down this weekend, News 3 spoke with organizers about how they found a way for the festival to go on.

Co-coordinator Amanda Hollowell says from the initial planning of the nearly month-long event, they were presented with new and difficult challenges as the pandemic pressed on.

“Can a group of volunteers that’s intergenerational step into what, you know, the new century of how we communicate and how we engage? And we did,” she said.

After protests for racial equality last summer, organizers agreed that this year’s festival needed to continue to highlight the important contributions and history of Black Americans.

Teresa-Michelle Jackson is another co-coordinator of the festival as well as an Associate Dean at Savannah State University.

She first got involved in the festival as a presenter many years ago and says she keeps coming back every year because of the mission of the festival.

“Making sure that we provide these cultural activities to underserved populations I think it’s really important. When you look at Savannah, we are a cultural hub,” she said.

A concern of past festivals was event accessibility for the community, so organizers would make decisions about events based on where the events would be located.

This year, with dozens of events streaming on their website, here on WSAV News 3, and on social media, they’ve made the festival more accessible than before.

“We always had to make sure folks could get there,” said Hollowell. “Now, folks can watch on their cell phone. Folks can get on their laptop. They can go back and view during their lunch break.”

Organizers say they hope future festivals will continue with a hybrid approach, with virtual and in-person celebrations to continue educating the community on Black history and heritage.

“There has not been a year where I didn’t learn something myself, and I’m an educator,” said Jackson. “So, if I’m learning as an adult, as an educator, I can only imagine what our youth are experiencing.”

Watch more of the festival’s past events here.

WSAV News 3 is a proud sponsor of this year’s celebration.

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