The Hamptons, famously known for being a go-to destination for those of affluent stature like Jerry Seinfeld, Anderson Cooper and Sarah Jessica Parker and, in full transparency, seen as a space for white people who grew up with old money to enjoy the spoils of summer. Located on the east end of Long Island, NY, the Hamptons has some of the most expensive homes in the United States and is known for being a space of all things luxury. 

And this is where you should spend your next Juneteenth celebration… 

Yes, Juneteenth. 

In contrast to what is stereotypically known of this iconic space, The Hamptons has a long running place in Black history and more recently, an immersive cultural event series founded by Yaya Reyes that celebrates the BIPOC artists in the Hamptons and opens the door for others in the New York area and beyond to be apart of this close-knit community. Introducing ART & SOUL: Hamptons. 

Every summer, ART & SOUL: Hamptons returns with anticipation from its community and leaves with attendees excited for the next event and this year’s Juneteenth celebration was no exception. Lets just say, If you aren’t in the Hamptons for Juneteenth next year — you’re missing out! 

The event began at around 1:00 pm and featured the sounds of a Long Island-based band called Certain Moves, delicious bites from Heart & Soul Catering (aka H&S Catering Inc.) followed by a panel of star-studded names including actors Wendell Brown, Kenneth Browning, Charnele Brown and moderated by Brenda Simmons, Founder and Executive Director of the Southampton African American Museum.

More than just a place for the rich and famous

“I realized I could be a boss. That’s what I learned being out here,” said Brown, actress known for her role as Kimberly Reese in the notable sitcom A Different World. 

For those who don’t know, she is a part of the community of Black people that call The Hamptons their home. This area of Long Island holds a special place in their heart. This area was the foundation for who they are today and the community speaks for itself in the loving energy that they show towards one another and it doesn’t go unnoticed that this area is the birthing grounds for a lot of successful people including Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President and Community Development Manager at Truist Bank, the seventh largest bank in the country. 

“The majority of African Americans who came to this area — came for two reasons,” said Johnson. “If they came from the South, they were trying to move away from oppressive Jim Crow, etc to a better life. Secondly, they came for potato farming. They came for a better life. A lot of people who come here or even stars that come here didn’t know that people of color were here in Southampton or East Hampton.”  “I believe this community prepared us to do great things not just here, but beyond just by the fact that they had faith and they exercised their faith.” 

The panel left audiences feeling a sense of pride from being from The Hamptons or feeling honored to be included in such an inspiring event to celebrate Blackness in The Hamptons and Juneteenth. 

Afterwards, the panelists relaxed in the VIP lounge where gift bags were waiting for them at their reserved table. The drinks were flowing and the good conversations were infectious. Passerby slowed down as they drove by the gathering of attendees looking incredibly stylish, posing for red carpet photos, taking a self-guided tour of the Southampton African American Museum which featured artwork by mixed media artist Demarcus McGaughey, styling sun hats sponsored by Wallaroo Hat Company or even restocking on hand sanitizer from Fresh Hands by TRJ owned by Taylor, a 9-year-old entrepreneur who is a business mogul and her elevator pitch is top notch. I gave her all my coins. 

Go to The Hamptons, but make it chic

Attendees proudly showed off their Hamptons summer chic look, from matching short sets to flowing dresses that felt and served all things luxury. One stand out outfit of the day featured a white two-piece sport coat and short set paired with a turquoise button up shirt, worn by VIP guest Kevin Everett. Scroll to see more of the looks from the day:

Red carpet photos provided by Kurt Leggard, event photos by Steve Dollas.

Sarai Thompson

Sarai Thompson is a multi-hyphenate digital content creator, social media coordinator, photographer, and event planner with a specialty in topics surrounding fashion and beauty. Sarai has written for publications such as, CNN, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Popsugar, Medium, Seriess Magazine and more. She received her B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in Journalism from Georgia State University along with an M.A. in Magazine, Newspaper and Digital Journalism from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

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