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Why Delray Beach museum is honoring Black fatherhood during Juneteenth celebrations

Father and son at the 2023 Delray Beach Family Affair at the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum in Delray Beach.
MasterWing Creative Agency
Father and son at the 2023 Delray Beach Family Affair at the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum in Delray Beach.

A museum in Delray Beach is coalescing Father’s Day and Juneteenth festivities — with jazz music and food for the spirit — to honor Black contributions, specifically from caregiving Black men.

South Florida jazz musicians will serenade the Juneteenth: Father’s of Freedom gathering inside the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, a non-profit museum preserving and sharing Black history for the past two decades.

This Juneteenth celebration is a toast to fatherhood in the multi-ethnic Black communities, said museum executive director Charlene Farrington.

“We decided that this Juneteenth was a perfect time to celebrate our Black men,” Farrington told WLRN. “Without them, we would have no society. We would have no communities.”

Ferguson said positive Black male representation, specifically Black fatherhood, in most media coverage and pop culture is few and far between, which often skews portrayals of Black men and boys.

“Rarely do we see any good news about the Black men in our community and all the great work they're doing,” Ferguson added.

READ MORE: 'I am me': New art exhibit in Delray Beach explores multi-racial 'Hapa' identities

Father’s Day lands on June 16th, just a few days before June 19th or Juneteenth, the national holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African people in Texas.

What Black fathers are saying

The gathering includes Miami native performers such as jazz trumpeter, composer, and Grammy-nominated educator Melton Mustafa Jr., son of jazz legend Melton Mustafa, Sr. And international saxophonist Jessie Jones Jr, Mustafa Jr.’s uncle.

Mustafa Jr. and Jessie Jones Jr. told WLRN their respective fathers left behind an endearing music legacy and passed down a value system that has helped each men maintain their family name — a direct contrast to the often unchallenged myth of the “absent Black father.”

Mustafa Jr., who is a father of two, said he is instilling “stability, protection, and mentorship” to his children, values passed down from his father.

Melton Mustafa, who will be performing at the 2024 Fathers of Freedom event.
Melton Mustafa
Melton Mustafa, who will be performing at the 2024 Fathers of Freedom event.

A 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that 70% of Black fathers who live with their children are more likely to be involved in activities, such as eating meals, bathing and dressing, compared with white fathers (60%) or Hispanic fathers (45%).

However, Black biological fathers wereless likely than their white and Hispanic counterparts to marry their child's mother, and that nuanced fact contributed to the absent Black father stereotype.

“My father was definitely my hero,” Mustafa Jr. told WLRN.

He said his father passed down the importance of family unity, education and volunteering when he was working at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Liberty City.

“He would come off the road with Count Basie Band or the Duke Ellington Band or Sinatra or Ray Charles Band and he would go to this small little building in Liberty City with kids,” Mustafa Jr. said.

“He would volunteer and teach them all of this music and you know sometimes not even getting paid to do it so this is one of the most important things that my father passed down to me.”

Jesse Jones Jr. Quartet, who will be performing at the 2024 Fathers of Freedom event.
Jerome Louden
Jesse Jones Jr. Quartet, who will be performing at the 2024 Fathers of Freedom event.

Jessie Jones Jr., who leads a family of four boys and four girls, stressed the importance of good parenting and having Black male “role models.”

“My wife and I brought them up respectfully to treat others with love and humility,” Jones Jr. said. "[We] make sure they're [children] on the right track or always on that road that leads to the right.”

Farrington told WLRN she wants Black men to feel free from negative stereotypes. She refers to June as “emancipation season.”

May 20th is Emancipation Day in Florida — a month before Union General Gordon Granger made it to Galveston, Texas, to announce the emancipation of enslaved African people on June 19th, Union Brigadier General Edward M. McCook made a similar announcement in Tallahassee.

The month of June also coincides with Black Music Appreciation Month, adding to the celebration of Black contributions.

The annual celebration of African-American music in the United States was initiated as Black Music Month by President Jimmy Carter who, on June 7, 1979, decreed that June would be the month of Black music.

Farrington said jazz music is the soundtrack to the Black experience.

“So jazz music is no brainer in terms of what kind of music should we share that we can all enjoy and celebrate,” Ferguson said. “And Jazz is it and Melton Mustafa Jr and Jesse Jones Jr are two of the best in the business and they're right here from South Florida.”

Juneteenth: Father’s of Freedom
WHEN: June 16 at 6 p.m.
WHERE: Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, 170 NW 5th Ave
Delray Beach, FL 33444
For more information, visit Spady

Juneteenth roundup in Palm Beach County

Residents in Palm Beach County are celebrating the national Juneteenth holiday in various ways. Juneteenth to

Wilkine Brutus is the Palm Beach County Reporter for WLRN. The award-winning journalist produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs. Contact Wilkine at wbrutus@wlrnnews.org
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