Posted on April 29, 2022

Juneteenth Soul Food Festival Canceled in Arkansas After All-White Panel of Hosts Revealed

Ashlie D. Stevens, Salon, April 27, 2022

In a moment that feels like it was pulled from an episode of “Atlanta,” a Juneteenth soul food festival in Arkansas was canceled as quickly as it was unveiled after word spread that all of the “featured hosts” for the event were white.

On Tuesday, a Twitter user shared an image of a poster for the event, with the caption: “Somebody has to explain this to me.”

The June 17 event, which had been scheduled to take place at the Little Rock War Memorial Stadium, promised “3 floors of food from some of Arkansas’ top restaurants and caterers.” It also advertised three featured hosts: Rex Nelson, the senior editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Heather Baker, the president and publisher of AY Media Group; and David Bazzel, an Arkansas radio and TV personality. All three individuals are white.


As Vice President Kamala Harris said during the ratification of the day’s federal holiday status, Juneteenth has gone by many different names, including Black Independence Day — which is why the disconnect between the event’s purported celebration of Black history and the apparent erasure of Black voices as “featured hosts” was so egregious.

Egregious enough that some Twitter users spent much of yesterday debating whether the ill-conceived poster for the event was real or perhaps some kind of prank. {snip}

{snip} Regardless, event organizer Muskie Harris, a Black former Razorback football player and former Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, announced that he was pulling the plug on the event, which was supposed to have a theme of “unity.”