About the Macknificent Freedom Fest


The Macknificent Freedom Fest purpose is to align, build, and crystalize the community body.

The Macknificent Freedom Fest connects leaders and organizations that embody a collective approach for community welfare and events; locally and abroad.

The Macknificent Freedom Fest Committee is designed to systematically develop Renaissance Leaders with a Global Conscience that embodies the 5 Wells of Leadership: Well- Read, Well-Spoken, Well-Dressed, Well-Traveled, Well-Balanced.

The Macknificent Freedom Fest vision is to duplicate the “The Macknificent Freedom Fest” Nationally and Internationally, serving as the standard model for (Juneteenth) Freedom Celebrations Worldwide.

The Macknificent Freedom Fest is focused on duplicating Renaissance Leaders and “The Macknificent Freedom Fest”, while developing an elite education system alongside a global percussion theatre (using a 7-step plan).

I am because we are, a house divided will fall.

A Servant to Many, Is a Leader To ALL.

History of Juneteenth

Juneteenth, short for “June Nineteenth marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. Two-and-a-half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) news arrived in Galveston, Texas, brought by a Union Army Major General Gordan Granger. Why did word take so long to arrive? Well, it’s Texas! Folklore has it that the messenger carrying the news of the Emancipation was murdered enroute or the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain their enslaved labor force. Perhaps federal troops waited for the slave owners to reap the last cotton harvest before going to Texas. Whatever the reason, Juneteenth (June 19th) stands as our longest held celebration – the day legal slavery ended. The general time marker when all became fully aware that they could leave the plantation. On June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday.

Fort Wayne History of Juneteenth


Here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Juneteenth holiday has been observed since the early 1990s. The celebration was preceded by the Pontiac Street Festival, which showcased pride of black business ownership and overall fellowship and familyhood that existed in the neighborhood. Owl Bank was a participant and sponsor of the event. It was supported by local businesses, such as Bob Hawkins Fish, Steve Williams, Robert “Tall Man Records” Hatcher, Thelma Russell with the Gingerbread House, the Pontiac Mall, local barbershops, and many other businesses participated and sponsored.

Chief Johanna Ice-Gold, accepted the torch of leadership and started a bookstore called Amandla! Inspired by the Pontiac Street Festival and Kwanzaa Celebrations (held at the Jennings Center and Links Wonderland by the Alkebu-Lan Umoja Institute) she then implemented the Harambee Street Festival, which saw its inaugural event back on Pontiac Street. From Pontiac Street, the annual event relocated to Weisser Park. Harambee Festival Lasted until the early 2000’s (2008).

Also in the Mid 90s, several leaders began teaching Juneteenth history through various community programs. Chief Condra Ridley facilitated several programs highlighting the history and significance of Juneteenth at the Pontiac Library. She was one of the early pioneers in Fort Wayne bringing awareness to the holiday, along with Mr. Eric Hackley. Mr. Hackley hosted neighborhood block parties to bring awareness in the ’90s.

2004 - 2019

There at Weisser Park Center, Baba Kweku Akan came to an awakening and discovery of his family origins and accepted the torch to reintroduce the annual Kwanzaa Celebration and the annual Juneteenth Celebration to a new generation of children and families. Baba Akan Afrikanized the Weisser Park Center and created a haven for the neighborhood.

For 15 years the Juneteenth event was hosted by Weisser Park Center. For the first 5 years it was under the leadership of Baba Kweku Akan, the supervisor of Weisser Park Center. Upon Baba Akan relocating to a different city, for the last 10 years the current supervisor of Weisser Park Youth Center, Ms. Zynette Paige, continued facilitating the event.


In 2020, due to the pandemic Weisser Park Youth Center did not host the Community Juneteenth Celebration. Furthermore, in light of the public heightened racial injustice in our country, Ms. Zynette Paige felt it was time for the Juneteenth Celebration to be totally controlled by the African American community instead of the City Parks Department. At that time, since Mr. Adrian Curry participated in Juneteenth, since its inception in Fort Wayne, and understood the history and relevance of Juneteenth, Ms. Paige encouraged him to begin facilitating the celebration moving forward. Juneteenth has been a big part of Mr. Curry’s life as his mother, Ms. Camille Curry and grandmother, Ms. Costella Mack were heavily involved at the Weisser Park Youth Center and assisting with organizing the celebration when he was growing up. He participated as a youth every year setting up the event, performing spoken word, and performing with his student-leaders from Dono Ntoaso, Akoma, and The Art Leadership Center.

In the same year Mr. Curry received the support to begin facilitating the event, after hearing word that Weisser would not be hosting the event, several organizations across the city organized quickly to ensure the community was still able to celebrate this significant holiday. Black Women of Excellence, The Health Hut, Bigger Than Us Inc., Keller Williams, and Ladies building together took the initiative and hosted separate events. Each event was wonderful in its own right. Mr. Curry and The Art Leadership Center (ALC) were able to coordinate with the leaders of each organization and, with their full support, connect the isolated events. It was decided that it would be best to unify (given the circumstances). The organizations were very graceful. They were open to adjusting the time of their events so that everyone would be able to attend each celebration in order to make it one seamless Juneteenth Celebration. They also allowed The ALC to conduct their Opening Ceremonies as a unifying factor. Each party put their pride aside and worked together in the true spirit of unity. There was a focus on bringing togetherness instead of dividing the community. This concept would be the bases for the ALC forming the Juneteenth Collaborative in 2021, organizations working together to put on one major Juneteenth Celebration.


Juneteenth Collaborative

“Juneteenth is about Unity” and as Mr. Curry looked to create an event in 2021, he decided to reach out to the cultural community elders and those organizations that facilitated Juneteenth events in 2020, including Ladies Building Together, Bigger Than Us Inc., The Health Hut, as well as Black Women of Excellence. “I could not move forward without the advice and consent from the Council of Elders”. He called everyone together and asked, “Do we want to have a unified Juneteenth Celebration?” And that is how the Juneteenth Collaborative formed to bring the 2021 celebration to life. Each organization implemented their event on one of the days of the week-long celebration.

There was a week-long celebration starting with the Elders Jubilee Brunch at Turner Chapel AME, the oldest African-American church in the City. Here the Proclamation of Juneteenth becoming a local holiday (June 13th, 2021), in Fort Wayne, was made. Juneteenth was later in the week deemed a National Holiday (June 17th, 2021).

The passing of the torch ceremony took place on Saturday, June 19th, 2021 (10am) before The inaugural Art Leadership Center Promenade, at the roundabout in front of Weisser Park Center. The Torch was passed from Ms. Paige, as representation of the cultural and spiritual elders, to Mr. Curry, as representation of the cultural and spiritual youth who will carry the burden of responsibility and forward the mission. The ceremony was executed in righteousness and order so that we are sure to honor of our foremothers, forefathers, and creator.

Collaborative Organizations: African Hellenic Society, Allen County Young Democrats, Alyse Capital Group, American Legion, Big Momma’s Kitchen, Bigger Than Us Inc., Black Women of Excellence, Boss Lady Majorette Dance, Brain Geeks, Bring Black Up, Center for Nonviolence, Change Makers, Courageous Healing Inc., Elijah’s Bakery, Growing Lives Foundation, Growing Minds, Human Agricultural Co-Op, Humanity for the Win, Identity Counts Cultural Collective, In Tune, Ladies Building Together, MLK Club, Moors in the Fort, NAACP, Omotayo, Optimistics Enterprise, Rezz Media, Rockaway Carriage, The Content Creators, Timothy Lymon Foundation, The Art Leadership Center, The Health Hut, Tygeron Graphics, Unity Barber Shop, Urban League, Urban Update.


Macknificent Freedom Fest

In 2022, the Juneteenth Collaborative became the Macknificent Freedom Fest and is now presented by The Art Center Inc. The Macknificent Freedom fest now serves as the banner of the week-long Juneteenth Celebration and has been proclaimed to be the official Juneteenth Celebration in Fort Wayne, IN.


In 2023, The Art Center Inc. continued to present the Macknificent Freedom Fest. This was a big year. The event was scaled down to only one day. Pieces of each of the original 7 days were preserved to grow at the one day celebration. The idea was to create a standard celebration that could be maintained and sustained. So the blueprint of the Macknificent Freedom Fest Celebration consists of The Keepers of the Light Ceremony, The Art Leadership Center Promenade, and the Freedom Fest itself. The Macknificent Freedom Fest - Cultural Cocktail Fundraiser Event was moved to December. We look forward to establishing more roots/support in 2024 that will allow us to nourish growth, and accentuate the activities within the standardized blueprint of the freedom celebration. It is a movement.

The Macknificent Freedom Fest was listed 4th by STL Today, as a "Top 10 Notable Juneteenth Celebration in the U.S."

Naming Process

The naming of the Macknificent Freedom Fest, cultivated by the spirit of the community, came in phases. Along with the Proclaiming of Costella Mack Day on Dec. 17th, 2020, by Mayor Tom Henry; The Art Leadership Center decreed that a "Cozi Mack Award for Outstanding Service" (to underrepresented and disadvantaged communities), would be presented each year to a Servant-Leader at the annual Juneteenth/Freedom Celebration. In 2021 the first Cozi Mack Award was presented to Ms. Zynette Paige, at the Freedom Day Juneteenth Celebration at “Mac Park”. Traditionally the event was held at Weisser Park. Still under the banner of Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, the movement from one park to another was a symbol of change and growth, Mac Park symbolized the future. Cozi Mack served as a symbol of tradition and past culture, that must be upheld, being that Costella Mack was among Baba Kweku Akan, Ms. Zynette Paige, Ms. Camille Curry, and others implementing and organizing the celebration back in 2004. These were the signs that Mr. Curry observed in the 1st phase; “the alignment of the name “Mack”.

The purpose of the Macknificent Freedom Fest is to align, build, and crystalize the community body, and to connect leaders and organizations with a collective approach towards community welfare and events; locally and abroad. The mission being to systematically develop Renaissance and Servant Leaders, and the purpose in mind, it was significant that the spirit of the name have to deal with service, or servant-leadership. The PIE root of the word Mack, go back to mac, mak, or mag, all meaning to serve, fashion, or knead. It is also a title used for a Priest King/ Chief in Old America. This is the proper spirit in which we should bring together the community for our Freedom Day Celebration. Similar to the initiative and process that ensued each year from 2020 to present, ALC brings organizations together that have an invested interest in working together in harmony as we continue to fulfill the mission and purpose. It is a movement.

The last phase of the process was to determine a name that represented the past, the present, future, and a movement. A name that honored the origins of the local celebration, tradition and previous torch bearers, and that connected the leaders and organizations with a collective conscience. Ms. Camille Curry, advised with wise council that it must also represent the people in the community well. She said “What about Macknificent”. We agreed that the name most certainly represented our community and its people. It also was in alignment with the Movement of the Maccabee. The strong leader from the conquering lion of the tribe of Judah that connected keepers of law and righteousness and stood up to fight for freedom on their day of rest. It was then presented to the Council of Elders for approval. It was approved, as all was aligned and in order. Rebranding the celebration was significant to maintain cultural ownership and integrity as the holiday became federalized and therefore appropriated.