June 20, 2024

AFJ's Juneteenth and Father's Day Celebration with Ace Clark

AFJ Participants received a copy of Ace’s “Dear Black Boy” book.

For the past three years, AFJ has hosted a celebration commemorating Juneteenth, a holiday that remembers the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed. This year, AFJ combined this event with the celebration of Father’s Day at our Harlem community center. Participants honored the father figures in their lives, as they learned about Juneteenth’s rich history.

The AFJ team, Participants, and their family members welcomed Ace Clark as the keynote speaker. Ace is a nationally acclaimed musician, author, and songwriter, hailing from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. He has performed to sold out audiences and has released three albums featuring artists like Andy Mineo, Talib Kweli, and Beanie Sigel. Ace is also the author of, “Dear Black Boy” a book of 75 affirmations, and dedicates his time to work that uplifts the community. Ace spoke to Participants about the importance of self-affirmation, individualism, the history of Juneteenth and how looking into the past can help shape your future.

"AFJ is doing necessary work in our communities and it’s important to support institutions that are actually for the people. I am honored that they invited me into their space and allowed me the opportunity to impart wisdom on their youth. I am excited to see what comes from our future partnership and am hoping more people become aware of AFJ and programs like these." ~Ace Clark

Inspired by his journey with depression, lack of support and resources, Ace wrote “Dear Black Boy,” out of an obligation to provide a resource for his community. He has donated over 1,000 copies to date, along with contributions to college readiness programs, churches, and alternative learning programs. Ace shared with our Participants how “every challenge we face is an opportunity to grow and succeed. As we celebrate Juneteenth, I affirm that our history is still being written, I affirm that our challenges are just one chapter in our story. Together we will have a legacy of hope, progress, and freedom for all of the generations to come after us. Just like those who come before us, I urge you not to wait on anyone for you to alter your life.”

Participants and their families enjoyed a meal in community prepared by Chef Felix.

The Juneteenth and Father’s Day Celebration, curated by Samantha Fikilini, AFJ’s Program and Activities Coordinator, was a powerful event filled with reflection and gratitude over a shared meal. Ace inspired AFJ's Participants with his affirmations. Gamal Willis, AFJ’s Chief Program Officer, noted how “the event’s recognition of fathers for their daily contributions in the lives of our young people, rather than just for one day out of the year, was particularly encouraging.”


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