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Migration to the U.S. on the rise, Juneteenth Food and Wine Festival, Miss Florida

Starex Smith is the man behind the food blog called “Hungry Black Man” and the founder of the Juneteenth Food and Wine Festival.
Courtesy of Starex Smith
Starex Smith is the man behind the food blog called “Hungry Black Man” and the founder of the Juneteenth Food and Wine Festival.

How the Biden administration is dealing with the rise in migration. Plus, a Broward County student competing in the Miss Florida Outstanding Teen competition has some thoughts on pageantry that may surprise you. And the first-ever Juneteenth Wine and Food Festival is coming to South Florida.

On this Wednesday, June 15, edition of Sundial:

Migration to the U.S. on the rise

Thousands of people from different countries in Latin America are making a 1,200-mile trek to the U.S. border.

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They started their journey as the Summit of the Americas began in Los Angeles last week.

It’s not certain when these folks will arrive at the border. But, they’re hoping to get away from the poverty and violence that exists in their countries.

Jack Maguire, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at FIU studying immigration, joined Sundial to discuss migration to the U.S. being on the rise again.

Migration to the U.S. on the rise
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Juneteenth Food and Wine Festival

Black southerners have been celebrating Juneteenth for decades. But it only became an official federal holiday last year.

It’s a day to commemorate the day emancipation reached enslaved people in the deepest parts of the South — when a Union general arrived at the Southeast coast of Texas to finally share the news that they had been freed. That was on June 19, 1865. More than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Food — especially red soda or red punch — has always been at the center of Juneteenth gatherings.

This year, South Florida is home to the first Juneteenth Food & Wine Festival. It’s happening Friday and Saturday in Miami.

Starex Smith, a local food blogger and Chief Eating Officer, is the festival's founder. He joined Sundial to talk about why he wanted to create this event in the first place.

"We looked at the South Beach food and wine festival ... And we were asking years ago, how can we diversify this festival so that it could be more inclusive and Black food pathways can be represented and so and so forth? Well, that festival had challenges in accomplishing that," he said. "So we decided that we wanted to do something that had that same element, but at the same time achieve the goals of inclusion. And so that's really how Juneteenth, Food & Wine was born — as a reaction of a lack of diversity from, I think, our town's largest food and wine festival."

Smith, who's also known as the blogger The Hungry Black Man, explained why he wanted to tie this goal specifically to a holiday he celebrates, Juneteenth, as well as what he hopes people take away from this particular food and wine festival.

"Food represented so much to enslaved people and the crops that they grew," Smith said. "It's a celebration of Black cultures, the celebration of Black freedom. But when we say Black freedom, that's American freedom. So we want everyone to understand on Juneteenth, like everyone, is a part of that lineage and that legacy. And so that's what the food festival represents, it's the great equalizer, it's a great connector."

Juneteenth Food and Wine Festival
Food blogger Starex Smith, left, and Miami-born retired NFL player Kayvon Webster partnered to open Smith & Webster restaurant in North Miami.

The title of Miss Florida Outstanding Teen

In the world of pageants and pageantry — there's been a lot of public criticism in recent years.

Conversations about objectifying beauty and a lack of diversity have even led the Miss America Organization to end its swimsuit competition.

That's a start – but it's not the full fix, or the full picture, according to Broward County high schooler Asha Cope-Edwards.

She has other changes she wants to see implemented on the pageant circuit. She is currently Miss Gold Coast's Outstanding Teen, and she's competing for the title of Miss Florida Outstanding Teen at the Miss Florida competition next week in Lakeland.

“Unfortunately, there's still a huge lack of diversity … I think it's because a lot of girls don't know that this is achievable and this is something that they can do. They've never seen anyone who looks like them do this. And especially in the state of Florida, which is shocking to me because we're one of the most diverse states. We have so many different cultures. We're just not seeing the diversity,” said Cope-Edwards.

Still, she believes these competitions are a powerful tool for young women like her.

“It gives you so many opportunities to practice public speaking and you're encouraged to have social impact, which is something that you do in your community. And that was really interesting to me because I definitely wanted to do something in my community that meant something to me,” she said.

Cope-Edwards started a non-profit organization called Foster the Change, which aims to help children in the foster care system.

The title of Miss Florida Outstanding Teen
Asha Cope-Edwards, Miss Gold Coast's Outstanding Teen

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.