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Baltimore’s Ruff Endz perform at the announcement of the 40th AFRAM in Baltimore. (Photo by Maliik Obee)

The Annual African American Festival, commonly known as AFRAM, will celebrate its 40th anniversary in Baltimore on July 2-3 at the Camden Yards Sports and Entertainment Complex. Vivica A. Fox will serve as host while acts like Common, Estelle and Baltimore’s Ruff Endz will perform.

The event was announced before a large crowd gathered in the Baltimore City Hall Rotunda by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the event sponsors.

Rawlings-Blake also announced 40 initiatives at the same time that are meant to empower the people of Baltimore.

Among the new initiatives is “Good Kids 20-20”, an edutainment series following hot topics from a child’s perspective.

“We are emphasizing cultural enrichment and community impact” said Blake.

The Mayor is also working in partnership with Visit Baltimore and the event sponsors in an effort to draw visitors in from other states.

GreIBO Entertainment has been a key producer for the event in the last few years, and President and CEO Shelonda Stokes said she is committed to improving Baltimore as part of the event.

“This year is about the heart” said Stokes, “Baltimore needs us, urban communities across the nation need us”.

Superstar Actress Vivica A. Fox will host this year’s event with comedy vet Johnathan Slocumb (“Steve Harvey Show”, “Comic View”).

Acts scheduled to perform include Grammy Winners Common, Estelle, Grammy Nominated artists Joe, Angie Stone, and Anthony Brown & Group Therapy. Soul singer Goapele and Baltimore’s own Ruff Endz round out this year’s lineup.

Ruff Endz was brought out by Rawlings-Blake to perform their 2002 hit single “Someone to Love You”.

Comedian Johnathan Slocumb spoke on the opportunity to perform at this year’s festival. “The keyword is opportunity, I’m honored, I love Black people” said Slocumb.

Baltimore’s Ruff Endz said they are proud to participate in the event and remembered attending the festival as young men.

“I’m jacked out of my mind” said David Chance, “Baltimore is Ruff Endz story”.

Member Dante “Chi” Jordan said, “I remember growing up when the AFRAM was in Druid Hill Park” said Jordan, “ it takes me back to the days of working at the Fudge Factory”.

More information on this year’s African American Festival can be found at http://www.africanamericanfestival.net/.