Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Indigo Girls at The Grand to benefit Ocmulgee Mounds park initiative, celebrate Macon200

Macon Bicentennial Committee sanctions Fire Starters Film Festival, Ignite the Night concert of Ocmulgee Indigenous Festival, and Black Business & Community Expo
The Indigo Girls, Emily Saliers, left, and Amy Ray, will play the Grand Opera House Sept. 16 in an Ignite the Night concert in conjunction with the Ocmulgee Indigenous Festival and Macon’s Bicentennial.

As the city celebrates its 200th year, the Macon 200 Bicentennial Committee wants to pay tribute to those who lived here first, and also bolster Black businesses.

The committee’s sponsorship of the Fire Starters Film Festival to showcase Native American filmmakers, artists and musicians could also bring the community closer to having Georgia’s first national park at the Ocmulgee Mounds.

As part of the film festival Sept. 14-17, which coincides with the Ocmulgee Indigenous Festival that weekend, the Indigo Girls have agreed to perform Saturday, Sept. 16, at The Grand Opera House at 651 Mulberry St. The concert and festival benefit the Ocmulgee National Park & Preserve Initiative that is heavily lobbying Congress to designate a national park to recognize the 17,000 years of continuous human habitation on this land.

Julia Morrison, one of the Fire Starters festival organizers, noted that the Indigo Girls who rose to fame in the mid-80s might be drawing in new fans because one of their biggest hits is part of the “Barbie” movie soundtrack.

“Closer to Fine,” a 1989 folk-rock hit that rose to No. 52 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, is heard three times in the blockbuster movie.

It wasn’t the duo’s renewed fame that led to their selection to headline the “Ignite the Night” concert, but their attention to conservation and Native American issues made them the perfect fit, Morrison said.

“They have a long history of environmental activism on indigenous causes,” she told the Bicentennial Committee this week.

Tickets are now on sale at

The Grand Opera House will host the Fire Starters Film Festival in mid-September and Ignite the Night Concert featuring the Indigo Girls Sept. 16 to coincide with the 2023 Ocmulgee Indigenous Festival. (Liz Fabian)

The film festival will spotlight the work of Muscogee (Creek) movie makers, artists and musicians to highlight the experiences and struggles of Indigenous peoples who were forced from their native land. The screenings are expected to be at The Grand with artwork displayed at Mercer’s McEachern  Art Center at 332 Second St.

One of the artists, Bobby C. Martin who works out of his studio in West Siloam Springs,  Oklahoma, has never been to the Ocmulgee homeland, Morrison said.

Fostering understanding and reconciliation is the aim of the festival and will carry over to the theme of works of art that will be on permanent display in the planned Bicentennial Park.

The Macon Arts Alliance is seeking artists to share the history of this community from its origins by designing art that will be displayed in renovated greenspace adjacent to the Mill Hill Community Arts Center in the East Macon Arts Village.

Tracie Revis, the director of advocacy for the Ocmulgee National Park & Preserve Initiative, said they are looking for Indigenous art, pieces that portray racial terrorism, or display generational reconciliation.

The application seeks emotion-evoking works that inspire healing and restoration.

The art should “inspire people to see the Macon community with hope and a spirit for equity, empathy, social justice and wholeness of community for the future,” according to the Request for Qualifications that is open to all artists who are aged 18 and older. The deadline to apply is Aug. 10.

The Bicentennial Committee aims to raise $1 million for its new signature park that is expected to complement a future entrance to the national park off Clinton and Main streets.

Morrison pointed out that the city’s first settlers lived in that area of east Macon.

Black Business & Community Expo

The Bicentennial Committee also is sanctioning the upcoming Black Business & Community Expo at the Macon Coliseum on Aug. 19 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

New Macon 200 Bicentennial banners are up on the Otis Redding Bridge to commemorate the city’s history since its founding in 1823. (Liz Fabian)

The Central Georgia Coalition of Black Businesses is hosting the day-long exhibit and seminars while also showcasing the work of the Bicentennial history committee that put together a dozen programs detailing different aspects of Macon’s 200 years.

“We’re getting phenomenal community support,” said Alex Habersham, the Coalition’s chairman who also co-chairs the Bicentennial Committee with Wes Griffith.

The event is free to the public who can register to attend or pay to become a vendor through Eventbrite.

The Expo features multiple breakout sessions to guide, inspire and help grow businesses.

The organization will present humanitarian awards to Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Elaine Lucas, Tubman Museum Director Billy Pitts, and Middle Georgia Regional Library head of the Genealogical & Historical Room Muriel Jackson, who is compiling an African American Heritage Trail that will initially present three bronze markers in downtown and expand to other points of interest along a longer route in the future, Morrison said.

Griffith said the Bicentennial Committee wants to leave a lasting legacy with the programs undertaken to commemorate the city’s second century. The more than yearlong celebration is expected to conclude next spring at the new amphitheater with a major concert showcasing Macon’s music heritage.

“We’re thinking a lot about how these projects can live on that got started in the Bicentennial,” Griffith said.

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.

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