David Ballard said Black History Month is celebrated in many ways over many years.
But Sunday from 2 p.m. to around 6 p.m., Black History Month will be celebrated for the first time on Bo Diddley Community Plaza with various black musicians performing, Ballard, the events coordinator for the City of Gainesville Parks Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, said.
“Black musicians over the many years have contributed just really to every major genre of popular music,” Ballard said. “There’s a little something for everybody.”
The free concert will host two bands: Billy Buchanan with his Rock 'n Soul Revue as well as Dr. Neu & BluJaFunk, according to the press release. Dr. Neu, otherwise known as Longineu Parsons, is a world-renowned trumpeter.
The concert, presented by the City of Gainesville, is free to the public and funded in part by Culture Builds Florida. This campaign strives to promote art and culture to create a continually vibrant and creative Florida, according to the website.
“To be able to welcome everybody, nobody has to buy a ticket. Nobody has to not come because they’re on a budget,” Ballard said. “You know, it’s just really something that everybody from all walks of life and all incomes can come and have a great time together.”
People are invited to bring blankets or lawn chairs downtown to Bo Diddley and enjoy a concert that “celebrates many of the great pioneer artists of Black music,” according to the press release.
Ballard said he expects anywhere from 500 to a couple thousand people to show out Sunday afternoon, similar to the turnout of free Friday night concerts downtown.
Ariel Williams, an African American Gainesville native, said she hasn’t attended a Black History Month event downtown in over 20 years.
“However, I remember it vividly and think about it often,” Williams said.
She said the black community has always come together in celebration of its history, whether at church, barbershops, hair salons or cookouts.
“Seeing it at large, if you will, reinforces what I already know and have been raised to know — that our community is love, strength, resiliency and joy,” Williams said.
She recently attended a similar event, “Take Me To The River,” a nationwide tour of several Delta musicians celebrating the evolution of blues to modern day hip-hop, which performed in Gainesville.
“It was an eye opening exploration of how racism directly impacted the Memphis Blues scene and Black communities in the Jim Crow era,” she said.
She said now she is even more excited for the concert Sunday.
“Learning about cultures and communities outside of your own is progressive and what this city needs,” she said. “If you are curious, come with an open mind and listen to understand without judgment.”
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that two bands will be performing during the concert. The first band is Dr. Neu & BlujaFunk and the second band is Billy Buchanan with his Rock 'n Soul Revue.
Billy Buchanan, pictured here (foreground), will come together with his Rock 'n Soul Revue for Sunday's show.