Northeast Los Angeles residents and neighbors on Sunday have the opportunity to enjoy a festival as diverse as the population and culture of their neighborhoods.
The sixth annual celebration will take place on Sunday, June 5 at two locations, Charles Lummis’ homestead El Alisal and , and will run from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“This is a very exciting celebration of arts in our neighborhood and the community is well-represented in all aspects,” said Lummis Day planning board member Eliot Sekuler.
“This year we really ventured out and did things we haven’t done before.”
Some of those firsts include spoken word poetry accompanied by background music, performed by, among others, celebrated Los Angeles poet Wanda Coleman.
Additionally, Lummis Day has never included Indian music in its lineup, but will have that covered with a performance from Gingger Shankar.
The festival will feature a spectrum of music, art, dance, poetry, community outreach booths and numerous food vendors.
And all that talent providing the entertainment, according to Lummis Day Foundation President Maggie Barto, is local.
“One of the reasons why it’s important for people to come out to Lummis Day, is because all of the talent is local. It’s a way to see what our neighbors are doing in music, dance and poetry," she said.
With the various arts and activities available at the festival, people of all ages and backgrounds will surely find something to appeal to their interests, organizers said.
“There’s adventurous, non-stop music and dancing on three stages and the performing arts. The elements work together as a crowd-pleasing, satisfying and stimulating program,” Sekuler said. “The puzzle is putting a good program together and we’ve accomplished that.”
Lummis Day organizers said that they see Sunday as a day to acknowledge and support the multi-cultural vision possessed.
According to secretary of the planning board Carmela Gomes, it is also a celebration of Northeast Los Angeles' cultural heritage.
“We all share a place that has a rich and compelling history. We have wonderful possibilities in our area and we have what some people call a ‘brilliant patchwork of cultures and ethnicities’ and it enriches all of our lives,” Gomes said. “This is our heritage here.”
Gomes said by sharing the NELA heritage with Los Angeles residents through the various art forms present at Lummis day, it not only adds to their understanding of different cultures, but also enhances locals' appreciation of their artistic history.
“When people come and enjoy Lummis Day with us, they take away an appreciation for all the things that make this community a very rich and vibrant part of Los Angeles,” Gomes added.
For non-locals, Barto said, Lummis Day is an opportunity to witness primordial Los Angeles.
“Los Angeles has this idea that anything over 30 years is old, so the fact that we still have the Lummis Home and Heritage Square is important," she said.
Lummis Day, of course, is also a celebration of Lummis himself, and the enormous artistic, cultural and intellectual legacy he left behind.
“Lummis was a colorful character and he was important to the Northeast. He was the first male librarian in Los Angeles and city editor at the L.A. Times," she said. "Lummis also collected Native-American artifacts and established a place to showcase them, which is how the Southwest Museum came about. This October will be the 100 year anniversary of the groundbreaking at the Southwest Museum.”
Gomes said Lummis' legacy is one of a striving to accumulate both a well-rounded knowledge and appreciation of native cultures.
She also said being involved in the Lummis Day festival is a culmination of the learning that individuals do about one another everyday. That opportunity to share, she said, is the cultural relevance of the event.
“By having the festival, we are celebrating that constant open dialogue that people can bring to one another so that we can be like Lummis,” Gomes said. “By making ourselves available to new and rich experiences.”
According to Sekuler, this year’s Lummis Day celebration falls at a time when the future of the Southwest Museum--which Lummis founded and was acquired by the Autry National Center in 2003-- is .
“We hope the leaders of the Autry National Center attend Lummis Day on Sunday and will be reminded of the importance of Lummis, of the collection they have acquired, and through the they apparently plan to abandon,” Sekuler said. “This festival will remind people of Lummis’ contribution to the history and culture of Southern California, at a time when that legacy has been put in jeopardy.”