The fourth annual Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival hosted by the West Alabama Multicultural Alliance kicks off virtually Friday on the alliance's Facebook page and website.

The event normally takes place in person, but because of the coronavirus, it will be held online this year.

The theme of this year's festival is Tuscaloosa History: Learn It, Live It and Love It.

Samyra Snoddy President of the West Alabama Multicultural Alliance said that the festival will include performances from local bands and choirs. as well as poetry readings and drama performances and more.

The festival will also highlight stops on the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Trail. Students in the local county and city school systems will be narrating the story behind various sites on the trail.

Snoddy said the festival started in 2018 to celebrate different heritages and help people learn about them.

"In order for you to learn about other heritages, we felt like we needed a festival to embrace all parts of it and especially with the African American community to expose our music, our dance, [and] our art to the rest of Tuscaloosa," Snoddy said.

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While the festival normally offers free samples from local ethnic restaurants in the area they are unable to provide that service this year, but Snoddy hopes that can return next year.

"That part of the festival we will not be doing, but hopefully by next year we'll be back up and running," said Snoddy.

The alliance also uses this event to raise money and a donation tab can be found on the Civil Rights History and Reconciliation website. They are also hosting two donation drives for two local nonprofits in the area.

"We also are doing donation drives where you can donate to Tuscaloosa One Place for school supplies and Temporary Emergency Service for our canned food drive," Snoddy said.

The festival is free to the public and Snoddy says those who are interested are encouraged to visit the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History and Reconciliation website to learn more about the civil rights trail and the plans for the civil rights district and civil rights museum."

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