Evelyn Pearson (from left), Joy Promise, Mary Sewell and Yolanda Rochelle talk while enjoying the food, weather and music of the 25th Annual Nubian Jam at Forest Park on Saturday afternoon in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett’s Nubian Jam is one family’s 25-year tradition

EVERETT — The Hisgrove family shares a 25-year tradition.

Squeek Hisgrove, 57, made her way to Forest Park at 6 a.m. Saturday. She scouted out a picnic table underneath a leafy tree.

Her family has attended the Nubian Jam every year since it started in 1993.

The Snohomish County Black Heritage Committee throws the festival in celebration of African-American culture. Musicians played R&B, neo soul and hip hop songs. Gospel choirs sang. A little girl in a Seahawks jersey danced to the music, half preoccupied by the popsicle she was eating.

In past years, they displayed exhibits about the Buffalo Soldiers and Tuskegee Airmen.

About 2,000 people visited the festival throughout the day.

Squeek Hisgrove, of Everett, calls it their annual “shindig.” They celebrate their family’s African-American, Samoan and Caucasian roots.

Her two daughters were young during the inaugural festival. Melissa Hisgrove, now 28, remembers performing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” onstage as a 5-year-old. She brought her two sons to the festival Saturday.

“We try to keep it in the family,” Squeek Hisgrove said.

Saturday was Maualuga Hisgrove’s first time at the Nubian Jam. The 1-year-old watched from his stroller as everyone unpacked for the picnic. They brought lots of food to share. A homemade carrot cake was given to a woman they met that morning.

Marilyn Quincy, a founding member of the black heritage committee, said the family reminds her of why they host the Nubian Jam.

“It almost made me cry. That’s what we’re here for,” Quincy, 73, said. “If we have people like that, this won’t die.”

Quincy remembers growing up near Silver Lake. She was one of the only African-American children in her elementary-school class.

Years later, she helped form the black heritage committee. Her family has history in Snohomish County going back to the late 1800s.

“We want to show pride in our race,” she said.

Committee chair DanVonique Reed calls her their living legacy.

Reed grew up attending the Nubian Jam. Her parents served on the committee. When she was 13, she recited Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech onstage.

“Little did I know I would later be on this committee,” Reed said.

Her three children were there Saturday. Her 14-year-old son rapped for the families sitting in the grass.

Over the past 25 years, Reed said they have focused on the heart of the festival’s mission. Among the invitees were state Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, and Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas. She encouraged children and teens to introduce themselves and ask questions.

She says they can have any career they want.

“You can be a judge, a house representative, a sheriff,” Reed said. “We’re planting seeds so they can keep it going.”

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

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