Dayvid Dixon, an 8-year-old Garner resident, wrote her first book last year called “A Girl Named Dayvid.”
Harry Davis, a Belville resident, turned to oil painting more than 30 years ago after an accidental shooting while serving with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, which left him in a wheelchair.
Dayvid, Davis and dozens of other artists helped kick off the sixth annual African American Cultural Festival on Saturday by sharing their art, talent, music and stories with thousands of people.
Saturday was the first day of the two-day celebration along Fayetteville Street in the heart of Raleigh.
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Dayvid greeted passers-by and told the story of her journey as an author. “A Girl Named Dayvid” is about Dixon starting the third grade and having to deal with her fellow students saying she has a boy’s name.
“I decided to write a book because I wanted everybody to know that their name is special, and you shouldn’t pick on other people no matter what,” she said.
Her mother, DeShannon Dixon, the author of “21 Days to Living Your Best Life,” said their family decided to attend the festival not only to share her daughter’s experiences but to enjoy and support local art.
“It just makes it special for me just to see so many people of diverse cultures do so many positive things in the arts,” she said. “It gives me the inspiration to go back to my thinking box.”
While Dayvid is a new artist, Davis has been involved with art for about 40 years. As a child in Wilmington, he began drawing and sketching.
But after his accident while serving in the Army, Davis began expressing himself through oil paintings, and in his fifth year at the festival, he featured works from three main genres: tribal African, blues and jazz and the American South.
Even though he has completed works in numerous other genres, Davis said he gravitated back to those three because they represent his love of Africa and music and his childhood in Wilmington – all important pieces of him.
“I’m just mesmerized by the coolness of his artwork and how he captures certain people and rhythm,” said Patricia Elaine Sabree, a Gullah artist.
For Sabree, the festival is a time to take in the work and talent of others.
“I like the fact that you have so many artists with professionalism that have many unique styles,” she said. “And the energy is perfect.”
Sabree’s work, which she referred to as Gullah art, is a representation of the mixture of West African and American Southern heritage. Sabree hoped to tell the story of her African ancestors through her work, about their strength and survival.
“The spirit of our culture cannot be broken or shaken,” she said. “When you see the artwork, it’s noted for gold, bright colors. A lot of people say it makes them very happy.”
Attendees of this weekend’s festival also heard children’s stories written by African-American authors, purchased original pieces by local artists and danced to the music of performers, including Chuck Davis & the African American Dance Ensemble.
“[The festival] gives me motivation, and it lets me know that I’m on the right track,” Sabree said. “Because when you have a gift, you don’t keep it to yourself. You share it.”
The festival will continue today from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Kathryn Trogdon; 919-460-2608; @KTrogdon
If you go
What: African American Cultural Festival
Where: Along Fayetteville Street from Martin Street to City Plaza
When: 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. today
More information: aacfestival.org