As I sit here, having just read President Janice Curtis Greene’s message on the festival, I am once more struck by how different this year is from any other in my lifetime. I don’t know about you, but I did not jump on any virtual platforms, Zoom, YouTube or even Facebook as soon as I heard about them. I did not readily embrace all this new technology. I had to be coaxed and pushed and I finally got on board once it became clear that if I didn’t, I was going to be very lonely and somewhat uninformed. For sure the world is not waiting for me to decide to adjust to and be glad about all the changes it’s putting out. Even the NABS Festival is going virtual.
So now I’m going to church, singing Happy Birthday, meeting, studying, meditating, telling and listening to stories, etc. VIRTUALLY. I’m doing all the things I thought would just not be the same if I could not do them face to face. And truthfully, they are not absolutely the same. The camaraderie is not quite the same. The energy of getting dressed to look our best before we go out to be with friends, family and coworkers is not the same. But at the end of the day, better virtual than not at all. So here we go, The National Association of Black Storytellers 38th Annual “In the Tradition…” Storytelling Festival Conference for 2020, IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE ANCESTORS, via ZOOM!!!
But how is this going to work for us? Let’s consider NABS mission, to promote and perpetuate the art of Black storytelling—an art form which embodies the history, heritage and culture of African Americans, and the vision to strengthen our communities. Does anyone doubt that we can accomplish this virtually? Knowing what powerful storytellers we are, is there any doubt that even virtual listeners will leave this conference informed about and inspired by our history and culture? Certainly, they will come to understand that our stories are more than just entertainment. From the time of our ancestors, the griots and the jalis of old, our stories have taught our history, they have spread wisdom and given guidance, upholding our values. Clearly, there is a need for us to continue sharing such stories and wisdom in this unsettled time.
As we consider the divisiveness and obvious racism all around us; the upcoming, very contentious election; the scourge of Covid 19, we know that we can share our strength through our stories. We share, we enlighten, we uplift through our folktales, our personal stories, our historical portraits, and the power of our music and drumming. Our nation needs to understand who we are, the African American in American history, our culture, and contributions. And all of this can be shared virtually. It’s a brand new world!
And, I just got this straight from the pen (so to speak) of our Festival Director: “Although we will not be physically together, you can best believe we will still feel the hugs and share some laughter and good times! I think we will be surprised at how much the feel of NABS will come through our screens.” Furthermore, we can support NABS and heighten the camaraderie of the NABS family by honoring and sharing memories of our ancestors in the virtual souvenir journal. And we can do all of this in the comfort of our own homes. We can do it without spending money on hotels or transportation. In addition we can share our stories with folks who might never have come to Richmond to be with us— while we enjoy the same great quality and variety of workshops and storytelling that our organization is known for.
If you have not yet embraced the virtual platforms, now is the time! Get a grandchild, a niece or nephew or a next-door neighbor’s child to help you to register and show you the ropes. They all know how to use the technology and we’re ready to step up our game. Let’s embrace this new opportunity. Let’s register online as soon as the registration info is available so that the people who have worked so hard, our president, our executive director, the festival director, Sister Barbara Eady on the souvenir journal and others who are assisting them will know that we support and appreciate them and we’re ready to support our organization, its mission and vision.
I’m looking forward to a great festival and I look forward to seeing all of you there!
Peace & blessings, Asante Sana!!!