Juneteenth Cycling, Shows Featured at International Festival of Arts and Ideas

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“I believe we should all know our stories. We don’t want our stories to get lost in the mix.”

Michael Twitty is passionate about local Black history. He’s also dedicated to staying healthy on his bike. He lost thirty pounds and gained a love for cycling.

Twitty created the Black and Brown Soul Cyclists group in New Haven, and says it’s open to anyone.

“And because I like to bike ride, I was able to incorporate not only sort of a healthy lifestyle developing healthy habits, but also 'Hey, let’s learn something on these rides,'” Twitty said.

Last year, he led the first Juneteenth ride for the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, and it sold out.

“You know, it's Juneteenth, it's part of our history. It's just part of a story that many of us had never heard of in the past,” Twitty said.

This year, he will once again guide about 30 cyclists around the city to historic stops like the 202-year-old Dixwell Avenue., Congregational United Church of Christ, the Amistad Memorial and the first school for Black children in New Haven.

“And again, if we don't share the story, the stories will be buried,” Twitty said. “You know, we don't want that to happen.”

The Juneteenth ride is just one of several events this weekend at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas is now in its sixth week.

“It’s been really good, believe it or not,” said Malakhi Eason, the director of programming and community impact. “Everything has been really smooth, the artists have been off the chain, the response from the community has been great. I’ve been hearing nothing but great, great, great things about everything.”

And there’s a lot more ahead.

“This weekend, starting tomorrow, we have Juneteenth Full Circle, and that is a production that just talks about the history of Juneteenth, it gives you a little bit of gospel, a little bit of dance, a little bit of tribal drumming,” Eason said.

And keeping with culture, there’s a fashion show Saturday night that he said will highlight different backgrounds. It will feature New Haven designer Neville Wisdom and Project Runway’s Prajjé Oscar.

“So, whether they’re from Africa, Haiti, Jamaica, some are from Asia. So, it’s going to be really, really nice to see how that all comes together in one show,” Eason said.

Rounding out the weekend on Sunday, there’s a Juneteenth shopping village, Gospel on the Green and Gregory Porter.

Eason said everyone should check out the schedule over the next ten days so they can come out and enjoy the arts.

“This stuff is programmed only for our community,” Eason said. “It’s here in New Haven. It’s the time for us to support and be out and gathering together, connected.”

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