Sherry Patterson, president of the Black Awareness Association, gives the keynote address to Juneau residents during the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 2018 Community Celebration sponsored by the Black Awareness Association at St. Paul's Catholic Church. On Saturday, the Black Awareness Association will host its Rise fundraiser in celebration of Black History Month at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. (Michael Penn |.Juneau Empire File)

Black Awareness Association invites community to ‘Rise’ to the occasion

Saturday’s event also serves as scholarship fundraiser.

Though it’s been nearly five years since the last time Juneau’s Black Awareness Association hosted its Rise fundraiser, BAA president Sherry Patterson said this year’s event promises to be even more entertaining than in years past, as well as educational.

“That’s what our group is about, educating our community about aspects of our culture,” Patterson said. “We’re going to begin with the meal, which is our traditional soul food dinner. From there we’re going to have an emcee, my son Michael Patterson, that will lead us through the evening which will be some music and an introduction of information about our culture and it’s going to be a learning experience for our attendees.”

Sherry Patterson, president of the Black Awareness Association sits with friends and family at the last Rise event held back in 2018. (Courtesy Photo / Sherry Patterson)

Sherry Patterson, president of the Black Awareness Association sits with friends and family at the last Rise event held back in 2018. (Courtesy Photo / Sherry Patterson)

Rise, a Black History Month celebration, is from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday at Juneau Arts and Culture Center. Tickets are $65 per person and can be purchased at JAHC.org. In addition to food and music, there will also be a no host bar, dessert auction and 50-50 raffle. Patterson said the event is not only aimed at raising awareness around Black culture, but it’s also used as a fundraising event for BAA’s Black Excellence scholarship fund.

That’s always one of our goals, raising funds to be able to support our black students who desire to continue higher education once they graduate high school,” Patterson said. “We’re hoping to raise about $10,000.”

Black Awareness Association President Sherry Patterson poses for a photo with Black Excellence Scholarship recipient in 2018. The Rise event held on Saturday will also serve as a fundraiser for the BAA’s scholarship. (Courtesy Photo / Sherry Patterson)

Black Awareness Association President Sherry Patterson poses for a photo with Black Excellence Scholarship recipient in 2018. The Rise event held on Saturday will also serve as a fundraiser for the BAA’s scholarship. (Courtesy Photo / Sherry Patterson)

Music will be provided by Patterson, as well as Jocelyn Miles, who said that while she’s been very active within the Juneau community and has known Patterson for roughly 10 years, this will be her first time performing for a BAA’s fundraiser. Miles played a key part in arranging the music for Saturday’s event, something she said she thinks will be moving for anyone in attendance, regardless of religious beliefs.

“The first portion of the music is going to be all spiritual and gospel, so definitely whichever deity you align yourself with, I think you’ll be touched,” Miles said. “Even if you’re not a believer, I still think you’ll be touched. Music is very healing and soothing, so I think people will be touched even if they don’t believe in a higher power.”

Miles said that while she looks forward to the entire evening, she’s especially looking forward to a rendition of Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” sung by Jaylynn Martin and Miles’ son Johnathan Gee-Miles. Additionally, Miles said she’s excited to see performances by Sammara Apango of the Juneau Dance Theatre.

“I am excited to see that whole thing come together, the kids have been working to make sure that the songs go off without a hitch,” Miles said. “Sammara is wonderful, she’s very moving, so that’s what I’m looking forward to seeing the most, I can’t wait. I told Jaylynn, ‘I need to cry when you sing your song. You need to make me cry.’”

Miles said the first half of the music portion will be centered around spiritual and gospel music, which will be followed by a more upbeat second half that’s been described as the “get out of your seat and dance” portion.

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful program,” Miles said. “The food is going to be delicious and so I think it’s just going to be great and everyone will enjoy themselves. I can’t wait for this to go off, I think it’s going to be wonderful.”

Patterson said the event’s name comes from the idea of rising in the face of the “great opposition” Black communities have faced and still face today, despite it all, black culture continues to rise, Patterson said. Additionally, Patterson said BAA appreciates the opportunity to educate people outside of their culture because in doing so, they often educate themselves, as well.

“A lot of folks who are not of our culture, they know Martin Luther King, they know possibly some of the other bigger names, but there are so many, in preparing this we also learned of unsung heroes,” Patterson said. “We believe our country was built on the backs of our ancestors and there are so many that have contributed to what our country and our world is today and we want to highlight some of those during Saturday’s event.”

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

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