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Black Arts and Culture

Portsmouth Celebrates 27th Annual Umoja Festival


The City of Portsmouth celebrated its 27th annual Umoja Festival during Memorial Day weekend at the Portsmouth Pavilion and Festival Park. The festival drew thousands of area residents to downtown Portsmouth in celebration of African culture and to promote cultural diversity and unity of family, community, and the nation.

The festival was opened by remarks from city manager Dr. L. Pittis Pattorn, a traditional African drum call, a welcome & recognition of special guests by Portsmouth mayor John L. Rowe, and permission from the elders of the Portsmouth community, Esther White & Phillip Finch.

Mayor Rowe then introduced Congressman Bobby Scott-D 3rd District, who gave brief remarks. Friday’s artists included saxophonist Stan Howard, the Tidewater Drive Band, and Plunky and Oneness.

Local residents enjoyed free admission to all festivities, including live music by local and regional artists, a heritage tour, kids’ activities, vendors, and food court. The festival’s highlight was a ticketed concert Saturday night featuring the Stylistics, the Delfonics, and the Manhattans.

The festival closed out Sunday with national gospel recording artists Titus Jackson and the Rance Allen Group.

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By Randy Singleton

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