Posted inArts & Culture

Poets ‘proud to celebrate’ Juneteenth at open mic

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For librarian Lareka Bailey, blending open mic nights with Juneteenth felt like the right thing to do. 

“We are proud to celebrate Juneteenth,” she said. “We are recognizing the efforts from our local legends like Opal Lee, from the pastors and the reverence in the community that have spoken so positively about Juneteenth and what it represents for them.”

While helping plan programs for Ella Mae Shamblee Library, 1062 Evans. Ave., she proposed the idea with Juneteenth in mind.

The event called Remember Every Dream open mic was held June 16 as a time for members of the community to share their own spoken word, poetry, or song to honor the holiday.

Bailey remembers the first time she was introduced to spoken word and poetry at an open mic night. It was in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, when she was 10. 

She instantly fell in love with it.

When Bailey started her job as senior librarian for Ella Mae Shamblee Library in February, she knew she wanted to bring open mic nights to community members. 

Lee, the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” is an activist who led the movement to make Juneteenth a national holiday. In 2016, at 89, she walked 1,360 miles from her hometown of Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., while rallying support. 

Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021. 

“I think it’s a great way for everyone to connect and learn each other’s stories,” Bailey said.

Bailey and a colleague from Fort Worth Public Library sat down with the Fort Worth Report on camera to share more about the open mic night. They also share what they hope this event will bring in the future. 

David Moreno is a multimedia summer fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here

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