Juneteenth: The Souls of Black Folk

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(Note: The video above was streamed live on June 20, 2020)

Jarrel Phillips and the San Francisco Public Library Presents…

Jarrel Phillips explores Black culture and presence in America and the African diaspora through film and photography. Phillips’ stories unfold from his first-hand experience growing up Black in San Francisco and observing the African diaspora through his travels in the United States, Ethiopia, Haiti, Uganda, Tanzania, Egypt, Brazil and more.

This event will be live streamed on our YouTube. Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/user/SanFranciscoLibrary

A note from Jarrel Phillips on The Souls of Black Folk

Through my work, I aim to recognize and honor the joy, grace and glory I have had the privilege of witnessing and documenting. My ability to travel has granted me access to a global perspective that extends beyond the Western European outlook and into other Black cultures. My journeys allow me the opportunity to continuously and actively reconcile what W.E.B. Du Bois refers to as the ‘double self’ and/or ‘double consciousness’.

I want my work to both counter and balance the dominant narratives of despair and powerlessness that is pervasively utilized to portray our people and communities. The struggles do exist, but this depiction is incomplete and, therefore, misleading.

As a result of my experience and interactions with Black folk across the globe, I have concluded that our ability to persevere and overcome the obstacles and self-perpetuating narratives lies in the essence of who we are at our core. We are joy. Joy is the secret ingredient for growth, healing and transformation. It is the antithesis of despair and the catalyst to what can become an alchemical process which transforms the mundane, the arduous and uncertain into gold. Gold, in its essence, is pure and treasured by many for its high quality and can take form as currency, adornments and so forth. Most analogous is that gold is said to retain its value in any form and in any place.

One of my mentors, Joanna Haigood, once said to me, “Black presence is like black gold.” How could it not be? When the rest of the world has tried to take from us, when we were and are denied basic rights, when we are overlooked and undermined we still keep and know our value. We rejoice. We laugh. We dance. We sing. We strive. And we do it all with sincerity. We are pure, like gold. This is what our souls are made of.

― Jarrel Phillips

Reservations required: https://bit.ly/SoulsJP2020