"For over 50 years, Vernard R. Gray served as a pillar of D.C.’s cultural landscape: organizing art exhibitions, presenting jazz, taking photographs, mentoring young people." - Majeedah Johnson, Capital Bop.
For #BlackHistoryMonth, DC Jazz Festival proudly honors Vernard R. Gray and his 50+ years of service to arts and culture in DC. A lifelong DC resident, Vernard made it his life's work to invest in his community and bring awareness to the many causes he championed. Gray was part jazz presenter, part entrepreneur, part photographer and part historian, and his greatest desire was to share his passion for the arts with anyone he encountered in his travels. He presided over the East River JazzFest as part of our annual DC JazzFest for six years, presenting jazz artists east of the river in Wards 7 and 8. In November 2019, just a few shorts months before his passing, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser presented him with the Award for Excellence as a Community Arts Advocate which recognizes "significant contributions as a community advocate for the arts or creative culture in the District of Columbia.” His belief in DC's musicians, artists, and creatives never faltered, and his work helped propel the arts in the District to new heights. Well done Vernard R. Gray. Well done!
Check back in next Friday when we highlight another impactful member of the DCJF community as part of our Black History Month feature series.