Juneau’s Black Awareness Association hosted Rise on Saturday at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. The event was a celebration of Black History month, but it also served as a fundraiser for BAA’s Black Excellence Scholarship Fund which assists young kids of color in continuing on with higher education after high school.
In addition to food and music, there was also a no host bar, dessert auction and 50-50 raffle. BAA president Sherry Patterson said that there was ultimately hesitation around the idea of bringing back the event after a five-year hiatus, and to bring it back on a larger scale, but after seeing Saturday’s turnout, she said she was glad they “decided to go for it.”
“We’re just incredibly excited to be here with our community again and to celebrate us and who we are and what we have to give to this community,” Patterson said. “We absolutely see this as being back on track as an annual event. We just want to thank everyone who came to support us.”
Sherry’s son Michael Patterson served as the evening’s emcee and said events like Saturday’s are of “paramount importance” because of the different perspectives BAA can provide, which is of especial importance in a smaller community such as Juneau, Michael said.
“We think it’s important that people experience something different, I think people really respond to it,” Michael Patterson said. “When you’re on a place like Juneau, like an island, everything has to be brought here and everybody gets this old feeling of things just sort of being the way they are, and so that’s why fresh events like this are important. We just want to let people know that we’re here and this is what we can do for our community and it’s just a little something different than you might see everyday.”
Christina Michelle Patterson said that BAA events such as Rise are important, much in the same way that Cultural Rich Conversations, which she hosts on KTOO, are important because they represent not only Black lives in Juneau but also show a commitment to community.
“To me it’s like a two-way street,” Christina Patterson said. “It’s like we’re here as part of the community and we want to be able to give and to serve, we’re sharing the black lived experience here in Juneau, Alaska, and beyond. It also feels good to connect with our community and to know that people in our community want to know what we have to share and want to know about the black lived experience, as well. So, to me, this feels like partnership.”
Christina Patterson said that while she was born in Anchorage, she grew up in Juneau, graduating from Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé, so it’s a community she said she’s known and loved for quite some time; events such as Rise and seeing the level of support from so many in attendance she said only helps to remind her of why.
“I just appreciate when we have events and so many people come or when we raise funds for Healing Hands or Glory Hall and AWARE,” Christina Patterson said. “It’s like when we can say we’re doing something and then Juneau shows up for it and always does, it just means a lot to us. We have a gospel choir almost every year but since COVID we haven’t been able to do it, so this is like our first soul food thing that we’ve been able to do in a long time, so to have people here, it just means a lot.”
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at email@example.com.