The West Virginia Black Heritage Festival began in 1990 as a small meeting hosted by the Kelly Miller Alumni Association to discuss fundraising ideas. On September 2, 1990, the organization kicked off their first event in Clarksburg, West Virginia called the “Emancipation Proclamation Celebration” to commemorate and reenact President Abe Lincolns signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This event was attended by several government officials and participation exceeded the organizations expectation. In 1995, the event officially became known as the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival.
The festival housed over 50 vendors for the weekend and featured national recognized entertainment including The Drifter, The Marcels, Delfonic, Dunbar Jazz Ensemble, as well as the African Miss America. The festival’s mission is to “promote the African-American experience while addressing the many milestones that our forefathers have made since the Emancipation Proclamation.” It is all about celebrating and honoring American-American’s heritage and culture. The Kelly Miller Alumni Association also offer support to young African American with offering scholarship and after school enrichment programs to help combat the negative influences that many of them face.
This year the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival falls on September 7th-9thand the main events will take place at Jackson Square in downtown Clarksburg. The festivities will start off Friday with a youth block party followed by the opening ceremony on Saturday and live entertainment. The conclusion of the festival will address the religious aspects of African-American culture with a community church service and gospels singers followed by the closing ceremony.