WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In the heart of the Historic Northwest community, once home to some of the most iconic jazz performers, is now a historical landmark and a new park for the community.
“More than ever now, people are interested in celebrating Black culture,” Khinuu Nefer said.
Nefer is the owner of Afrique Ngozi Dance and Drum. For years she’s taught children in Palm Beach County about West African heritage.
“They’re excited to learn something new, they’re excited to continue tradition,” she said.
On Saturday, Nefer’s dance and drum troop will perform at the new Heart and Soul Park on Rosemary Ave. for a ribbon-cutting and a special Juneteenth celebration.
“We’re hoping it’s just going to continue to be a source of pride and a reason for people to sort of get excited about the revitalization of the overall neighborhood,” Christopher Roof said.
Roog is the Executive Director of the Community Redevelopment Agency in West Palm Beach. He said the reimagining of the Heart and Soul Park and the historic Sunset Lounge is a community-led initiative.
“It’s built to actually hold events whether there’s music or other things. So, it’s supposed to really be this welcome mat to the community,” he said.
For the young dancers performing on Saturday, they say performing at this park is a chance to educate other children about Juneteenth.
“I do realize that some schools don’t really talk about it. For example, my school. But it’s really important because it’s a day that people like us finally got our freedom,” Jayla Panton said.
“During slavery, they were stripped of their culture and forced to speak English, they couldn’t read or write or do anything,” Sanan said. “They couldn’t practice their religion. So, I feel like when we are doing African dance and people are watching us, I just want them to feel like they have their culture back.”
The Juneteeth celebration will take place Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 825 N Rosemary Avenue.