The Baltimore County African-American Culture Festival (BCAACF) will celebrate 20 years on Sept. 17 at the Towson Patriot Plaza. The festival is a family-friendly event that chronicles the traditions and customs of the Baltimore County African-American community. Baltimore County is made up of almost 30 percent African Americans.

Vivian Green will be performing at this year’s Baltimore County African-American Culture Festival on Sept. 17. (Courtesy flyer)

This year’s culture festival will be headlined by singer Vivian Green, perhaps best known for her hit single “Emotional Rollercoaster.” In addition to performers, the festival is hosting speakers such as Kendra Randall Jolivet, partner and founder of Baltimore-based law firm Randall & Sonniera.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Educating Our Daughters for Today and Tomorrow.”  And, as part of the theme there will be an Education Village, where Jolivet will be the keynote speaker.

“This year’s theme aims to empower girls and young women to aspire to their fullest potential. The theme is aligned with First Lady Michelle Obama’s #62MillionGirls and Reach Higher initiatives,” said Cynthia deJesus, vice president of the BCAACF, a statement.

There are about 40 historical exhibitions in Baltimore County that include hundreds of old photos and memorabilia as well as oral presentations by elders of the community. For example, the Buffalo Soldiers exhibit tells the story of the hundreds of African-American soldiers who heroically fought for liberty during the Civil War.

Another element of the festival is the Hero/Shero contest. Now in its third year, the contest involves people writing tributes of 100 words or less about an active duty service member, a reservist, a National Guard member or a veteran who is the hero or “shero” in their life. Danyell Smith, the coordinator of the contest, said, “One of my favorite things about the festival is how it honors our African-American military veterans.”

The festival was founded in 1996 by Adrienne Jones, a Maryland state delegate, and the speaker pro-tem of the Maryland House of Delegates. The festival is meant to celebrate the rich history of African-American culture with the input of local and national entertainers, businesses of all sizes and over 50,000 attendees.

In addition to showcasing Baltimore County’s history and communities, the festival also raises funds to support charitable programs and scholarships for the African-American community. DeJesus, the vice president of the festival, said, “Over the past 20 years we have provided over $100,000 in scholarships to our Baltimore County African-American youth.”

The Festival is free and takes place on Sept. 17 in Towson, Md. at Towson Patriot Plaza, 401 Bosley Ave. For more information, visit, aaculturalfestival.com or call, 410-645-0765.