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A Freedom Fest lineup that empowers and entertains

The Birmingham Times

Birmingham Freedom Fest, which focuses on empowerment and entertainment, has moved online this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic and will be livestreamed free on Saturday, July 25, beginning at 3 p.m.

The City of Birmingham is the presenting sponsor of the event, which includes panel discussions on topics such as Southern politics, immigration, female leadership, LGBTQ issues and Black activism in technology.

Music performances are on the agenda, as well, featuring acts such as Rapsody, Translee, Pastor Mike Jr., Sherri Brown and Shaheed & DJ Supreme.

Last summer, the inaugural festival was hosted in and around Kelly Ingram Park and 5,000 festival goers from across the community gathered in the Birmingham’s Civil Rights district for the event.

For a link to the livestream, viewers must fill out an RSVP form on the festival website at www.freedomfestbhm.com. It asks for a name, email address and place of residence.

“We’ve experienced a lot of change in the past 12 months,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said. “But one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for empowerment and celebration in our city. Freedom Fest is more relevant than ever, and I can’t wait for this opportunity to honor our social justice heritage and our love for live music and entertainment.”

Here’s a listing of themes for panel discussions and participants for the panels, which are on the festival’s website.

Blueprint: Black Men Thriving: Highlighting stories of trials to triumphs and what it means to be a Black man in 2020. 

Cory Booker, U.S. senator for New Jersey and former Democratic presidential hopeful.

Pastor Mike Jr., gospel artist and leader of Rock City Church.

Damion Square, nose tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers and former player for the University of Alabama.

Jeff Drew, civil rights activist.

Terry Drake, author and basketball coach.

Patrick Packer, CEO of Datus Henry Industries and co-founder of Black People Run Bike and Swim.

Ladji Ruffin, project manager of the Offender Alumni Association.

Thomas Beavers, pastor of New Rising Star Church

Tony D. Christon-Waker, director of prevention and community partnerships for AIDS Alabama.

Chris Rogers, founder of Together Assisting People.

Brandon Davis, a teacher at Birmingham City Schools.

The South Got Somethin’ to Say: Politics 2020: A moderated panel discussion aimed at the evolution of politics and vital issues that plague 2020. 

— Woodfin, Birmingham mayor since November 2017.

— Doug Jones, U.S. senator for Alabama. He’s a Democrat, running against Republican candidate Tommy Tuberville in November.

— Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight Action, Democratic party nominee in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election and former member of the Georgia House of Representatives.

— Amy McGrath, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky. (Note: McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot is trying to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.)

— Devyn Keith, president of the Huntsville City Council, who will serve as moderator.

Who Tells Our Stories: A virtual tour of the A. G. Gaston Motel, its significance and preservation efforts to continue its legacy in the City of Birmingham.

— Terri Sewell, who represents Alabama’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

— Denise Gilmore, senior director of the Office of Social Justice and Racial Equity for the City of Birmingham.

Uncaged Liberty: A discussion about the cultural aspects of immigration in Birmingham, AL on a local and national scale. 

— Jerome Dees, immigration lawyer.

— Evelyne Rivera, community outreach coordinator for the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice.

— Celida Soto Garcia, hunger advocacy coordinator for Alabama Arise.

— Carlos Aleman, deputy director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, who will serve as moderator.

OUTspoken: A conversation surrounding challenges in the LGBTQ+ community to inspire confidence and strength.

— Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

— Park Cannon, a member of the Georgia House of Representatives.

— Neil Rafferty, a member of the Alabama House of Representatives.

— Sinseriti Banks, case manager for Birmingham AIDS Outreach.

— Josh Coleman, LGBTQ+ liaison for the City of Birmingham, who will serve as moderator.

Social Justice and Technology: Exploring Black Tech Activism: A discussion about Blacks and tech advocacy, access to tech for people of color and opportunities to connect social justice and technology. 

— Adrienne Starks, founder and chief executive officer of STREAM Innovations.

— Waymond Jackson, CEO of Ed Farm

— Julian Grant, commercial business development specialist for Alabama Power.

— Rashada Leroy, CEO of LRY Media Group, who will serve as moderator.

Strong-Her: A dialogue about female leadership, breaking the glass ceiling and women making an impact within the community. 

— Bobbie Knight, president of Miles College.

— DeJuana Thompson, creator of Woke Vote.

— Tracey Morant Adams, senior executive vice president of Renasant Bank.

— Te’Andria Ellis, founder of The Surge Project.

— Alexus Cumbie, founder of Literary Vibes Birmingham.

— Sherri Jackson, journalist and TV news anchor for CBS 42, who will serve as moderator.

Passing The Torch:  A dialogue about how the next generation is leading the charge to equality & fairness for all.

— Kameryn Thigpen. Community Organizer, Woke Vote

— Jordan Davis,  Host, Poppin’ Policies Podcast

— Austin Smith,  Student Organizer, Doug Jones For Senate Campaign

— Caleb Neverson, Chairman, NAACP Youth Council

— Chad Freeman, Community Organizer, Woke Vote

— Jordyn Hudson, Shape The Culture, Founder, will serve as moderator