“We get to share our culture with everyone and each member of the audience leaves with a message: that everyone belongs. The UniverSoul Circus is for the people…it’s their show.” – Cedric Walker, Founder and CEO
The Universoul Circus is known as the coolest show on earth! Millions of people from all over the world have enjoyed thousands of shows over the years and the fun continues.
Cedric Walker is the founder and CEO of The UniverSoul Circus. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Walker’s entrepreneurial spirit and love for the circus started at a young age. Growing up, Walker took on jobs like shining shoes and selling popsicles on hot summer days to make money.
When Walker moved with his uncle from Baltimore to Tuskegee, Alabama in the 1970s, he was instantly sucked in by the nightlife his uncle lived as a nightclub owner. Cedric started off as the production and stage manager for the group, The Commodores, and toured with them around the world. He later worked as a promoter for The Jackson 5.
In the 1980s Walker organized the Fresh Festivals, which was the world’s first rap music tour featuring Run DMC, Salt N Pepa, The Fat Boys, and many more. Traveling on the road was fun, but the memories of the circus kept flooding his mind. In the 1990s, Walker began to look at more universal forms of family entertainment.
“The vision was to explore the various talents other than singing and dancing that black performers had to offer,” he said in a promotional video for the circus. “We wanted to apply our gathered years of experience in the live appearance industry, to make a difference, to change the industry we lived in, creating growth and opportunity.” This was the birth of The UniverSoul Circus.
Unfortunately due to the pandemic, like all live shows, The Universoul Circus was forced to shut down. However, this has not stopped the show!
COVID-19 has impacted people of color and low-income families the hardest. According to Universoul Circus, children experiencing homelessness have been shown to have higher levels of emotional and behavioral problems, an increased risk of serious health problems, are more likely to experience separation from their families, and experience more school mobility, repeat a grade, be expelled or drop out of school, and have lower academic performance.
As lockdown restrictions began to ease up, The Universoul Circus held free shows for homeless families in metropolitan areas around the United States. Cedric Walker was overwhelmed when he discovered the number of homeless families all over the country. As a result, he decided to provide a fun-filled escape to the circus and help them put their struggles aside for a few hours while enjoying the show.
“We love performing for families across the country, but our Family Open House is our way of reaching out to the local community and helping those in need as best we can, and we’re thrilled that business, media, and community leaders are as supportive of this event as we are,” said Cedric Walker, the founder of UniverSoul Circus. “There are many great organizations that, thankfully, are willing to help provide necessities to these transitional families, but we can offer them something very unique with a night out together at the circus and we hope to make this an annual event.”
The UniverSoul Circus has also teamed up with DKMS, a bone marrow donor center. DKMS is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders.
African-Americans are underrepresented on the bone marrow registry. The Universoul Circus wants to help raise awareness, plus register potential donors. A patient’s best chance of finding a matching bone marrow donor is with someone of similar ancestry. This is just one of the many organizations and initiatives the circus is behind.
All of this goodness doesn’t stop here, The UniverSoul Circus Humanitarian Award recognizes outstanding individuals in the entertainment industry whose contributions are greater than entertaining. These individuals have used their platforms to improve the quality of family life through educational, social, and technological initiatives in their communities.
Through these bold acts of kindness and recognition, The Universoul Circus helps everyone experience circus joy every day.
The UniverSoul Circus Is For The People: A Brief History Of The Black Circus was originally published on blackamericaweb.com