Troy X Stansbury grew up in Annapolis, Maryland. Through a group called Annapolis Local Organizing Committee (LOC), Stansbury and others aspires to inform, inspire, and uplift the community, particularly in Annapolis, the District of Columbia and Virginia. Stansbury explained that LOCs were spawned in various locations because of instructions provided during the Million Man March.
In 2020, CNN reflected on the 25-year mark when Black men gathered in 1995 in the nation’s capital to unite, listen to speeches, and take responsibility. The historic event was a “brainchild of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam.”
Martin Luther King, III, who is the son of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., mentioned that the Million Man March gave him hope, despite issues that still plague Black America, according to CNN’s report.
“If we choose to roll up our sleeves and work together to build a community,” King said, “we can build a beautiful mosaic.”
Stansbury and other volunteers have been investing in a sense of peace, joy, and community and family values through an Annual Annapolis Family Day Festival, since 2015. Stansbury is the founder and co-chair of the local event that has also provided opportunities to have fun; discover community resources; enjoy activities and entertainment; support vendors; hear spoken word; enjoy DJs; hear bands; participate in tournaments; and engage in an assortment of featured activities. Yoga and other traditional highlights from pony rides and face painting to a balloon bounce and basketball will be available in the Children’s Village this year.
Including youth and adult populations bridge generational continuity.
“The elders should always pass knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to the youth. Youth have something just as great to offer to the elders as well, so as a family, you can’t leave one without the other,” Stansbury said.
The free festival was held last year, while offering a mental outlet, social interaction, and a way to uplift the spirit, despite the pandemic.
“Our vision, long term, is to… continue to inform, inspire and create peace beyond Family Day so that the youth can realize, and others can realize, how we used to be, regardless of age differences, regardless of gender,” Stansbury said. “We want to bring out a modicum of peace. It’s family all over again. It’s not a one-time thing. We want this spirit to continue beyond that day.”
Stansbury added that he wants individuals from “every neighborhood” to attend, while bringing “children and ourselves,” to pass along an important perception of what can be done, then pass it along to youth. He stated that although “we’re different in terms of where we live, we are still one with one another.”
Erica Griswold, who was born and raised in Annapolis, has been the festival’s emcee for six years.
“The Annapolis Local Organizing Committee (LOC) has become my family over the years and my commitment to them and that festival fulfills my purpose to serve for the right reasons.” Griswold said.
She currently works as the Community Services Coordinator for Mayor Gavin Buckley’s office, while serving as a fierce advocate for residents in Annapolis. Griswold remarked that she ensures that their concerns are being heard, and their needs are being met with resources that are equitably distributed.
“Bringing the families together on that day is nothing short of amazing. Something powerful happens when people from all over come together to unite in love and knowing that the purpose is to honor and celebrate their brother or sister, their mother, or their fathers, their own families! It’s magical,” Griswold said. “Our mission is to change the mindsets of our people by bringing forth tangible and powerful teachings, information and resources for them to take full advantage of to support them.”
Griswold recalls having access to recreation like the Boys and Girls Club and community-based programs that offered basketball games, tournaments involving all communities, and healthy competition.
“It was all love. We knew we had each other. It was a different time,” Griswold said, stressing that the one-of-a-kind festival stresses unity. “That’s why it’s so important to reintroduce what “community” look and feels like, and we display that on an unbelievable level with this Family Day Festival.”
The sixth event returns on July 30, 2022 from 10:30 a.m.- 7:30 p.m. at 935 Spa Rd., which is the Bates Athletic Complex in Annapolis. Call Stansbury at 443-220-5401 for more information. Email [email protected] about vending opportunities.