Vivica Fox, actress, is one of the many hosts at this year’s African American Festival. The event will be held at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on July 2-3. (Courtesy photo)

After 40 years the African American Festival in Baltimore is looking better, not older. The festival, which started in 1976, is set to take place on July 2 to July 3 at the M&T Bank Stadium.

The festival is a celebration of African American life, music and culture. According Shelonda Stokes, who as part of promotions company Greibo is charged with promoting the festival, the event is “more like a celebration of our culture holistically. It’s an opportunity to adapt the festival to our needs.”

The African American Festival has played host in the past to performers such as Jacob Latimore, V. Bozeman, Mint Condition, The Choir Boyz, and many other artists.

This year’s line-up includes: Common, Estelle, Joe Mage, Angie Stone, Anthony Brown and Group Therapy and many others. Even though, Stokes couldn’t get Shelia E last year due to the weather she told the AFRO, “We want her to come out this year on July 3rd because we would like to do a “Purple Sunday”, celebrating Prince. So we would love to have her come back and perform.” As of press time,  Shelia E. is not confirmed to come back and perform, but Stokes and her co-producers would like Shelia E.

Some of the famous faces who will be hosting the Festival are Vivica Fox, actress, Baltimore’s the Rev. Jamal Bryant, Jonathan Slocumb, comedian, and Maurette Brown Clark, gospel musician. The lineup of hosts represents “a broad spectrum of our interest. We have hosts that represent who we are from comedians, singers and community members. Our thought was that the hosts will tell the complete story of the festival,” said Stokes.

In addition to music there are also areas set aside for beauty tips, career opportunities, robotics simulators and information on STEM programs. When asked if Stokes could recommend one non-musical activity she had trouble picking just one. “It’s hard to pick one thing, because we have so many areas of interest from a tent focused on STEM, to a tent focused on beauty. To just pick one thing is tough,” she said.

“I want community members to get their needs met at the festival. Whether it be health and wellness at the health screenings tent, a nice family outing with the kids, or date night to watch the show. Whatever they need, the hope is that they get that from the festival,” said Stokes.