The Langston Hughes Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, later renamed the Langston Hughes Institute, has an enduring cultural legacy for Buffalo’s inner-city communities. As a gathering place for creatives of all disciplines, the institute cultivated a space where the exchange of ideas across generations, grassroots organizing, and the mobilization of community engagement with the arts could take form. In conjunction with the closing of the exhibition Founders, which explored the early history of the Langston Hughes Center and its artist founders, the Burchfield Penney presents the screening and performance And the Speech Goes On: Celebrating Buffalo Wordism in collaboration with the Juneteenth of Buffalo Festival Inc. The last in a series of screenings with Doug Ruffin of the Buffalo History Channel, the documentary WORDIZM & The Buffalo Arts Movement of the 90's & 2000's explores the growth of Buffalo’s spoken word and hip hop communities. These outlets of expression follow behind an intergenerational legacy of arts as an outlet and a source of connection and empowerment, reflected in events that have become community staples such as the annual Juneteenth Festival and monthly Wordism open mics.
Following the screening will ensemble performance by the Buffalo SoulJah Orchestra, concluding with a Q&A session with the performers and filmmaker Doug Ruffin. This event is free with museum admission, and will also be live-streamed on the Burchfield Penney Facebook page for those unable to attend in person.
The Juneteenth of Buffalo Festival was started in 1976 by B.U.I.L.D., a community-based organization, as a culturally relevant alternative to the country's Bicentennial Celebration. The group blocked off part of Jefferson Avenue -- the "Main Street" of Buffalo's Black community -- for a weekend celebration. Murals were painted and vendors set up booths to sell ethnic foods and wares -- entertainment and festivity were abundant. After several years, the Juneteenth Festival outgrew Jefferson Avenue. It is now held in Martin Luther King Jr. Park at the intersection of Best Street and Fillmore Avenue. Juneteenth Festival Inc. received 501(c) (3) status in 1985. In 2000, the name of the organization added an A.K.A: Juneteenth of Buffalo, to reflect its broader mission. Juneteenth Festival, Inc. exists exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. Staffed mostly by volunteers, our mission is to actively preserve and promote the broad spectrum of African American Heritage through educational and cultural activities that will benefit the community as a whole. Juneteenth Festival, Inc. partners with existing organizations with similar community-based objectives to help achieve our mission. The Buffalo SoulJah Orchestra is a cultural fusion of acoustic melodies and rhythms.
The founder of Urban Legacy Filmworks, parent company to the Buffalo History Channel,Doug Ruffin has spent the last 25 years capturing and chronicling the city’s rich African American history through his work as a documentary filmmaker, content creator, and historian. His productions include rare, archival footage and interviews that highlight the stories, organizations, and individuals that have contributed to the rich legacy of Buffalo’s black communities.