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Juneteenth at Longwood Gardens

On Friday, June 16, 2023, Longwood Gardens hosted Fashioning Freedom, a event honoring the power of fashion in the struggle for freedom. It promised to be an evening for celebrating African American fashion and its critical relationship to the work of freedom. After spending her day seeing clients and working towards her doctorate, CFR Staff Therapist Chimère Holmes trekked out to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania to attend Fashion Freedom. The event left a lasting impression on not only her sense of her own cultural history, but also provided lessons she plans to incorporate into her therapeutic practice. Read on for Chimère’s reflections on Fashioning Freedom and Juneteenth at Longwood Gardens. 

Flyer for Juneteenth in Pennsylvania event: Fashioning Freedom, which took place on June 16, 2023, at Longwood Gardens.

Voices Underground facilitated Juneteenth In Pennsylvania, a state-wide commemoration of the 3rd nationally recognized Juneteenth.

Juneteenth in Pennsylvania

The skies opened up early in the morning and released heavy downpours coupled with lightning and thunderstorms. There was grey and bleak sentiment all around that had most of us with tickets wondering if the fashion show set to take place later that evening, would go on. Thankfully the rain ceased and the storms passed midday, clearing the way for the Voices Underground Juneteenth presentation at the serene and lush Longwood Gardens’ Open Air Theatre.

When the clock struck 6:00 pm, sunshine and fluffy clouds adorned the sky, as crowds gathered from across Philadelphia and Chester counties for Fashioning Freedom, a fashion show designed to celebrate the role of Black culture in and throughout the fashion industry commemorating Black artists (past and present) and the artistic brilliance that contributed to the overarching fight for freedom.

Voices Underground is a non-profit creative consulting firm that strategizes in racial healing through specialized story telling. Voices Underground seeks to help us remember African American history. Led by Gregory Thompson, Executive Director, the mission of the organization is the healing of communities through creative encounters with the truth of history. It’s vision: “to support our client communities in their work of telling their African American stories in ways that are true, transformative and enduring.”

Picture of kimberly McGlonn outside during the Fall under a tree wearing a red sweatshirt and purple skirt. She is resting her head in her hand and looking directly at the camera.

Dr. Kimberly McGlonn (pictured here) is planning on launching the Fashion the Future Forward initiative sometime in 2023 to advocate for equal wages and education about sustainable living and also workforce development, particularly for women who are formerly incarcerated.

Juneteenth at Longwood Gardens

Voices Underground commemorated Juneteenth across Pennsylvania by presenting Fashioning Freedom, a celebration of African American fashion and its invaluable relationship to and interplay with the work of freedom.

Texas native and vocal extraordinaire, Madelyn Brene kicked the evening off with several smooth, sultry renditions that highlighted her soprano vocals that quickly captivated the audience and had us all moving. Following Madelyn’s melodic set, Kimberly Jenkins, Founder of The Fashion and Race Database and Artis Solomon Consulting, offered an enlightening lecture outlining the impact of fashion on self-expression, sociopolitical climates, race relations, psychology, and anthropology.

The lecture then transitioned to a fun and interactive panel discussion and narration of the original designs led by three very impressive, young, Black, academic voices. Kimberly Jenkins, Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design and fellow in the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art was the lecturer and panelist. She was accompanied by Dr. Jonathan Michael Square, who serves as an Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design and holds a Ph.D., from New York University and runs the digital humanities project, Fashioning the Self in Slavery and Freedom. The third panelist and designer, Dr. Kimberly McGlonn, is a faculty member at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and is an advocate for justice and environmentalism, and advocacy that informs her designing technique and approach to leadership in the fashion industry. McGlonn oversees Grant Blvd as Founder and CEO in addition to Blk Ivy a thrift/vintage concept that tells the story of fashion as activism through the curation of garments.

The fashion show featured a smooth and uplifting soundtrack of hip hop and soul artists and highlighted the work of African American curators and designers.

Picture of a display at the Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.

Longwood Gardens (pictured here), is located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and is one of the United States’ premier horticultural display gardens.

Celebrating through Fashion

As an emerging doctor myself, I appreciated the intentionality and sensitivity that this unique platform produces through scholarly research, public gatherings, and historic memorialization. As a full-time mental health clinician and doctoral student, I cannot lie: I arrived that night after work feeling a little tired and did not know what to expect. I knew I wanted to celebrate Juneteenth this year in a meaningful way in memory of my ancestors and to serve as an example to my BIPOC Sisters’ Circle Group, a psychotherapy group through Main Line Health, as we spoke earlier in the week about the best ways to celebrate this newly recognized holiday as Black women.

Two hours felt like 20 minutes, my heart and spirit were definitely replenished and I was so very grateful I was able to attend. I left Fashioning Freedom feeling invigorated, informed, and inspired; all the prouder to be a Black woman in this country during such a time as this. This celebration did a beautiful job in commemorating Juneteenth here in Pennsylvania by bringing the community together in a vibrant and refreshing way, building new relationships and strengthening existing ones. Healthy and thriving relationships, after all, are critical to having a healthy and thriving community.

Staff Therapist and Blog Author Chimere G. Holmes

CFR Staff Therapist Chimère G. Holmes, MA, MSEd, LPC (pictured here) sees therapy clients virtually.

About the Author

Chimère G. Holmes, MA, MSEd, LPC, is a CFR Staff Therapist. If you have questions about this blog, Juneteenth at Longwood Gardens, or want to learn more about therapy, reach out to Chimère at cholmes@councilforrelationships.org or 215-315-7551 ext. 7064.

See our Therapist & Psychiatrist Directory to find a CFR therapist or psychiatrist near you.

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