What you need to know about Atlanta’s Many Rivers to Cross Festival

Gina Belafonte (Photo Courtesy: Sankofa.org)
Gina Belafonte (Photo Courtesy: Sankofa.org)

“Atlanta has such a rich history of movement and activism when it comes to civil rights. It made quite a lot of sense being that it’s the birthplace of Dr. King’s movement activity to host the Many Rivers to Cross Festival,” says Gina Belafonte, co-director of Sankofa.org and daughter of Harry Belafonte, the brainchild behind the festival.

Many Rivers To Cross – the largest, multi-generational music and arts festival dedicated to progressive social change is set for October 1 and 2 at Bouckaert Farm in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia  – which is south of Atlanta, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.

“The Many Rivers to Cross Festival is an opportunity for us to come together in unity and create solutions together. And then bring back that solution to our community so that we have the opportunity to activate change,” Gina enlightens. “Both of my parents claim deep roots in movement work. It’s the path I happen to choose.”

The new festival features, musicians and celebrities including T.I., John Legend, Public Enemy, Dave Matthews, Carlos Santana, Macklemore, Jesse Williams and so many more will share special musical performances to inspire their fans to vote, get educated on issues in the “Social Justice Village” and learn how they can get involved in their own communities

“Our organization, Sankofa.org, which is a legacy project, founded by Mr. Belafonte is about reaching back into our history in order to move forward. Most people in the movement feel it is a great service when looking at a strategy needed to address what has come before us [social injustices like killing of unarmed Black men, mass incarceration] and pave the roads forward. The movement is founded in multigenerational practices. It’s important to engage young people. We are focusing quite a bit of the festival on voting rights, it’s history, and mass incarceration. We must engage all generations. Artists from multiple generations have come on board to lend their voice and their support of the issues,” she shares.

Gina Belafonte is the youngest child of Julie and Harry Belafonte. In her position as co-director of Sankofa.org, she continues to carry the torch for social activism that her father pioneered over 60 years ago. After dedicating over a decade to addressing gang intervention and incarceration, Gina traveled around the world with her father to bring together two inspiring generations of art and activism with the critically acclaimed HBO film Sing Your Song. The film was selected as the opening film for the Sundance Film Festival in 2011.

Gina expounds on Sankofa’s vision, “We’re institutionalizing the capacity of someone like my father. We’re bridging art and culture with social justice activism and movement building. It’s important to shine a light on issues. The arts is a way to open hearts and minds and to effectively educate. Artists have a platform that helps amplify the message. Sankofa works with multiple non profits, as a resource and helping them with direct services. We have great organizational partners that have been working with us and in partnership with our artists. As artists come to us with ideas they want to create and shine the light on issues and as organizations come to us with needs to elevate their platforms as news breaks, we do our best to have rapid response around issues.”

See the two-day lineup below. (Subject to Change)
Day One Line up – October 1
Carlos Santana
Dave Mathews
Public Enemy
Chris Rock
Jussie Smollett
Robert Glasper Experiment
Umi Selah
Linda Sarsour
Van Jones
Rebel Diaz
Tiq Milan
Kristen Graves
Las Cafeteras
Jesse Boykins III
Camren Perez
Bryonn Bain
Ron Chisom
Shaka Senghor
Skip Townsend

Day Two Line up – October 2
Harry Belafonte
John Legend
Alice Smith
Aloe Blacc
Danny Glover
Wanda Sykes
Jaime Foxx
Jesse Williams
Dr. Cornel West
Alicia Garza
Opal Tometi
Sonia Sanchez
Hill Harper
Dianne Reeves
Sweet Honey in the Rock
Sounds of Blackness
Jo Mersa
Citizen Cope
Rashad Robinson
Reverend William Barber II
Adam Foss

Rev. Sokou & The Holy Ghost
Soul Science Lab
Jasiri X
Climbing Poetree
Mali Music
Randy Walton
Bryan Stevenson
Angelica Ross
Sabra Williams
Aja Monet
Morehouse College Glee Club

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