World Wide Juneteenth Headliners

What is storytelling? Storytelling is retelling a tale to one or more listeners through voice and gestures. It is not the same as reading a story aloud or reciting a piece from memory. The storyteller creates a series of mental images associated with words. The audience stares, smiles, or leans forward to hear more.

What is unique about storytelling in Africa? Storytelling in Africa provides entertainment, satisfies the curiosities of the African people, and teaches important lessons about everyday life. It is essentially a communal participatory experience. According to Jack Berry, in a storytelling setting, where the storyteller and the audience interact, both parties have rights and obligations.  Storytelling is a shared event with people sitting together, listening, and participating in accounts of past deeds, beliefs, taboos, and myths. Repetition of the language and rhythm are two important characteristics of oral storytelling in Africa. Storytellers repeat words, phrases, and stanzas. The use of repetition makes the stories easy to understand and recall from memory. When the audience is familiar with the stories, they actively participate as they learn important aspects of their culture.

Dr. William Rogers

Join a conversation on black family life with Dr. William Rogers, retired UW-Milwaukee lecturer and current host of The Black Reality Think Tank Radio. Rogers will discuss the historical context of African families, the impact of diaspora life, the restoration of African families and ending family violence. This will give attendees the tools and solutions to stabilize of families thus build stronger communities. Presented by Impact Coalition for Families.


Tejumola Ologboni

Tejumola Ologboni (Teju) is a Storyteller, Folklorist, and Oral Historian.  He was born in Salina, Kansas and moved with family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin when he was 11 years old.
He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison in Art and Education.

He was awarded a Federal Foreign Language Graduate Fellowship to study African Language at Indiana University – Bloomington. He is an avid student of African folklore and one of the nation’s leading authorities on African Spirituality and Culture.

As an educator, he taught African Literature, African American Literature, Creative Writing, and English in the Africology Department at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He also taught at Marquette University in Milwaukee and at Dominican College in Racine, Wisconsin.


Ms. Opal Lee

Opal Lee, a social impact leader known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,”. A 94 year old advocate working to make Juneteenth a national holiday. In 2016 She started a walking campaign to Washington, DC to raise awareness and quickly gained notoriety.


Shiwali Varshney Tenner

Shiwali Varshney Tenner is an accomplished Kathak dancer. She has learnt the art under the tutelage Ms. Kiran Chauhan, and Sandip Mallick. Kathak is an Indian Classical Dance that incorporates storytelling into dance through expressions, movements, rhythmic footwork, and stunningly fast spins. Shiwali follows the Lucknow tradition of Kathak dance which is known for its expressive style and graceful movement.

Shiwali is the founder of Illinois Center for Kathak, where she teaches dance as a means of finding our space, and our embodiment in this world. Shiwali believes in blending this ancient dance form with the stories of today to touch, express, and empower.