In celebration of Juneteenth, We Are Memphis is focusing on sharing stories from our Black community. While the holiday commemorates freedom, for so many Black Memphians (and Black communities across the country), it’s so much more! With the many stories and perspectives to share, we’ve sat down with the city’s favorite creatives, influencers, civic leaders, and more to highlight their stories of freedom of expression, joy, and living unapologetically.
Want to get in on the conversation? Share your story with us! Use #bringyoursoul and #wearememphis. We’ll be reposting stories throughout the month!
Victoria Jones, Tone Executive Director
When you think of the phrase “Black joy,” what does that mean to you? How do you look for moments of joy in your daily life?
It means perseverance, it means strength, it means revolution. It means despite it all (ie slavery, jim crow, segregation, mass incarceration, systemic oppression, redlining, the list goes on) you found yourself hopeful enough to be joyful, and that’s revolutionary.
Thinking about the community around you, how do they give you joy or help you pursue your own?
My people expressing themselves unapologetically (major s/o to the UNAPOLOGETIC. fam) brings me joy and in their expression I find the bravery to pursue my own expression.
Think about the thing, people, or Memphis-related place that brings you the most joy or allows you to be who you are.
How does that thing, person, or place do that for you? A Collage performance – every.single.time. Sitting in a dark, cool theater (pre-covid) watching ballet come to life in Black bodies has not only brought me immense joy, but stretched what I believed to be about dance and the ways we can show up in it.
How does Memphis (think the city, the community, the places here that you find the most peace) allow you to express yourself?
Memphis is where I found my voice, my purpose. This city has given me my toughest lessons as well as my most rewarding victories. I learned who I was and how to express myself in this city.
For the younger Black generations, what is your greatest piece of advice for living unapologetically or pursuing passions or joy?
Go for it, with everything you have, go for it.