Voices of Freedom music festival features diverse artists

Charles Rankin

A small, but lively crowd gathered for Voices of Freedom, a series of live musical performances, to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision May 20 in downtown Topeka.

While the event was designed to recognize the progress that has been made since the 1954 court decision, one of the organizers believes there is still much that can be done.

“We’re here not only to celebrate Brown,” Janet Jackson, planning committee member and Washburn University School of Law professor said. “We’re here to also bring awareness to the need for continued vigilance. In this time especially, we need to lift our voices.”

The festival featured a wide variety of musical acts.

“We have an incredibly diverse lineup of artists performing today,” said Jackson. “There’s a large segment of society represented here.”

One local act playing at the event was Maria the Mexican, a Mexican folk rock band whose lyrics jump between Spanish and English.

“We saw in the paper that Maria was playing and decided to come down,” said Robert Doole, a Topeka resident. “I know at least a couple of the band members are from the Topeka area and it’s nice to support local artists.”

Doole and his wife made time for the event even though they had a weekend busy with graduations and parties.

“It’s really nice to come downtown and take part in things like this,” Doole said. “They’ve done such a cool thing [by] developing this part of the city.”

Jade Hodge, Washburn junior math major, saw the event on Facebook and thought it seemed interesting.

“I kind of just came on a whim,” Hodge said. “I rode down here on my bike to see what it was like.”

Hodge really enjoyed the flute accompaniment in the first band, Injunuity.

“It make for a cool, funky sound,” Hodge said.

Hodge said she loves coming to local events in Topeka.

“There really is a lot to do around here,” Hodge said. “I just wish more people would realize it and come to them.”