Arkansas organizers were forced to cancel their "Juneteenth Soul Food Festival and Market" after advertising an all-white lineup on their flyer.
On June 17, an Arkansas Juneteenth celebration was set to take place at Little Rock War Memorial Stadium, until Twitter got ahold of the event's poster advertising its "featured hosts." Prominent Arkansas figures Rex Nelson, Heather Baker, and David Bazzel were spotlighted on the Juneteenth flyer, and all of them are white.
Event organizer Muskie Harris, a Black former Arkansas football player, told the Arkansas Times that the now-viral flyer was a proof and not the final version. After facing widespread backlash, Harris canceled the event.
“I got a rope around my neck and I’m tarred and feathered over an event that’s already dead,” Harris, a former Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, said.
The event organizer noted that the event was meant to focus on unity.
“It just got perceived in the wrong way, and my sponsors said to leave it alone. It’s dead. It’s dried up,” Harris said.
The Urban League of Arkansas was listed on the leaked flyer as one of the organizations benefitting from the Juneteenth Celebration. Once the poster caught flack from the internet, the organization quickly disassociated from the event.
"The Urban League of the State of Arkansas is and was not involved in any aspect of this program. We are concerned of the appearance of participation without our approval," a statement from CEO Scott D. Hamilton reads. "It's unfortunate that some failed to recognize the optics and the absolute need to engage prior to this being developed."