Juneteenth, Black Bravery, and Literary Expression: A Chat with Josh Epperson


As Juneteenth has gained Federal recognition as an official National Holiday since 2021, it feels like it has morphed into an unspoken second Black History Month. At least, that’s the feeling amongst Black people as I sense the pulse of this month’s energy of expression in RVA.

As we take this time to recognize Black bravery, fortitude, and the official emancipation of enslaved people, you can imagine how excited I was when I came across an Instagram post from Josh Epperson announcing that a second RVA establishment will be selling his book, entitled Living on the Edge of Time. With this news, I felt it appropriate to debut a recorded interview I conducted with Epperson back in January when he announced that his book would launch at Shelf Life in Carytown.

I figured this was as good a time as any to offer RVA MAG followers the Express YO’Self RVA Podcast, an idea I have had for a while!

I was super proud to learn of Epperson’s new accomplishment. To speak frankly, it was admirable and aspirational to see another Black man so close to home exercising his expression in a literary format, as I too seek to embark on writing a book myself. In my fashion, representation creates a sense of contagiousness for like-beings to envision new heights of accomplishment, so I immediately sent him a text to meet and do this interview in the hopes that I would absorb further inspiration to go forth on my own book-writing quest.

EXPRESS YO’SELF RVA Podcast 001 by Jon Cope _Josh Epperson_RVA Magazine 2024

Epperson and I explore how mediation is a huge factor in deepening our sense of presence and ability to recognize how, “we can break the cycle of chasing grand arrivals and reconnect with the boundless magic here on the edge of time.” ~ quote from Living on the Edge on Time

Funny enough, even though I sat down with Epperson for an hour, it felt like we didn’t talk about the book at all—at least not directly. What ensued was a refreshingly genuine, intimate, and affirmational mirroring of light as I recognized another brotha like me on a journey of restructuring our understanding of freedom, reprogramming our internally driven sense of joy, and connecting to our lived experience in profound ways. After conducting the interview and then reading his book, I realized we obliquely summarized the heart of what he writes about in Living on the Edge on Time.

The second home of his book resides in the Valentine Museum, where he served as part of the curatorial team for the museum’s exhibition Sculpting History at the Valentine Studio: Art, Power, and the ‘Lost Cause’ American Myth. If you are seeking to celebrate Juneteenth, maybe purchasing Epperson’s easy read or visiting his exhibit fits into your plans. 

A few poignant quotes that arose for me as I read Epperson’s book:

“As has been said, all things appear or disappear because of an endless series of causes. Ignorant people see life as either existence or non-existence, but wise men see beyond both existence and non-existence to something that includes them both; this is an observation of the Middle Way.” pg. 56, The Teachings of Buddha 

“Without some strategy to wake us from our sleepwalking and make better choices, we will be swept into the scheme of others; to suffer their whims and build their empires. We could wind up at the end of our lives never having felt the rush of being on the edge of time, missing the exhilaration of creating a life shaped by intention.” pg. 5 Living on the Edge of Time

Find out more about Josh Epperson HERE

Main photo: Writer and Museum Curator, Josh Epperson and Jon Cope recognize and reveal that they have so much in common as two very different expressions of Black masculinity in this debut episode of the Express YO’Self RVA Podcast!

Jon Cope

Jon Cope

Jonathan Copeland (Jon Cope) is a Multi-hyphenate Fashion Stylist, Creative Director, actor and host based in Richmond, VA. Copeland has over 10 years of experience in fashion retail, visual merchandising, blogging, magazine publication, public speaking, fashion event planning and hosting. Copeland has recently established a media company, In My Fashion Media (IMF MEDIA), geared towards social impact for BIPOC, Queer, and marginalized businesses by creating uniquely heart-felt and resonating content that engages audiences towards inspired action to support businesses that aspire to contribute to social equality and wellbeing.

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