The Word on the Block 2 event in Huntington will feature history and original music from Black artists. It takes place Sunday, Oct. 9, from 3-5:30 p.m. on 8th Avenue between Hal Greer Boulevard and 17th Street.
“This event was inspired by the need to bring people out from COVID isolation and also to bring some positive energy around, in America, in our town because a lot of the racial discontent that had been happening in 2019 and 2020,” said Mitzi Sinnott, event producer and co-creator from All Here Together Productions.
Event goers can expect to see performances from 10 scholars, two podcast hosts, six hip-hop MCs, one singer and dancers.
“We don’t see as many block parties in Huntington as you might in urban areas,” Sinnott said. “Where do we learn as a community about our Black history? Because it’s not being taught in schools.”
Huntington is incredibly rich “like gold” in Black history, she said.
Each scholar has a different topic on which they will give historical context about the African-American community’s experience in Huntington and explain what they’ve attributed to the Huntington community.
Assistant professor at the Marshall School of Pharmacy, Cynthia Jones, will present on the history of stepping in Black fraternities and sororities.
“For me, music and art itself is a science,” said Jones. “They say that music is good for the soul. So we know that beats. and rhythms and singing have been shown to be therapeutic to people. For the Black community, ancestrally we look at the form of music through beating drums and through singing and chants, that goes all the way back to our ancestors on the continent of Africa.”
Joseph Harris, also known by his performer name Scantag, is performing original music behind Cicero Fain’s presentation. His new album “Apex Predator” comes out soon.
His songs “Black Enterprise” with music producer Duke Johnson, and “Financial Empowerment” with Micheal Thomas are both inspired by Black entrepreneurship.
“Financial Empowerment” specifically is inspired by his own experiences.
“I come from an impoverished background, and now I own my own home, my credit is good. And it talks about how Micheal Thomas, he came from the projects and now he is a business owner,” Harris said.
Antoine Cabarrus is a rap artist performing at Word on the Block 2. His music for this year’s event is about mental health. He is also a nine-year army veteran who was injured while serving, and a former football player for Huntington High School and Marshall University.
He will perform “Drowning in the Rain” from his most recent album “Through it All.”
“As African-American men, we’ve been raised to basically be quiet and not to show any type of weakness whenever it comes to mental health,” Cabarrus said. “When you go from being so active to not being able to do anything at all or do the things that you used to be able to do, it really hits hard and the little devil that gets on your shoulder can persuade you that your life is over.”
His two most recent albums focus on depression.
“The last one I was in it, and this past one I was getting through it,” he said of his two most recent albums.
For the event, he wrote “Dr. Melanin” to encourage young Black people to pursue big careers like doctors, scientists and engineers because those careers need more Black representation.
“Show that we can be more than just athletes; (young Black people) should not be discouraged to pursue those types of fields,” he said.
Both Harris and Cabarrus both performed at last year’s Word on The Block event.
The event is produced by All Here Together Productions and the Positive People Association, and funded by the West Virginia Humanities Council.
“It’s a powerful, crazy, awesome, entertaining, educating, heart-opening event that everybody in the whole town should be at,” Sinnott said.
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