Juneteenth to Be Marked by Celebration and Remembrance

June 16, 2023 by Dan McCue
Juneteenth to Be Marked by Celebration and Remembrance
Guests respond as Broadway Inspirational Voices performs during a Juneteenth concert on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — Just two years after becoming a formal federal holiday, Juneteenth has truly become a national day of celebration and remembrance with public events commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans scheduled from coast to coast.

Here in Washington, D.C., where Juneteenth has been celebrated for years, a number of the top cultural centers will be holding events to mark the day, and many of them are free to attend.

The celebration actually kicks off Friday night with a free screening of Channing Godfrey Peoples’ critically acclaimed 2020 drama “Miss Juneteenth” at The Kennedy Center. 

Though originally scheduled to be screened outdoors, the Kennedy Center now says the screening will take place indoors in the Justice Forum at the REACH. Seating is still free, but it will be on a first come, first served basis and capacity is limited to 140. 

Patrons are encouraged to arrive early for the 8 p.m. event, the center says on its website.

On Saturday, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is hosting Juneteenth Community Day, during which visitors will be able to tour the museum grounds, watch culinary demonstrations, attend African drumming workshops and create their own artwork inspired by the museum’s collection. 

Reservations for indoor activities at the museum are reportedly already sold out, but tickets are not required for outdoor events.

Other events around the city include Bread for the City at the Michelle Obama Southeast Center located at 1700 Good Hope Rd. SE.

The event, which is being held Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., will feature music, performances and presentations, featuring dining and shopping options from various Black-owned businesses. 

The group Chocolate City Soul will perform from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

On Monday, June 19, the Black History Celebration Committee Juneteenth Festival will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on the 1900 block of Vermont Avenue NW. 

The event, which is free and open to the public will feature “giveaways, a children’s corner, music and more,” the sponsor’s website says.

Also on Monday, the Black Georgetown Foundation (2501 Mill Road NW) will host a Juneteenth Walking Tour during which participants will learn about the D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act, which freed 3,100 enslaved people in D.C. 

Participants will visit the Mount Zion/Female Union Band Society cemeteries. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, these two cemeteries are the final resting place for 8,000 to 10,000 African Americans who lived and worked in the Georgetown area from the 1700s on into the 1950s.

Along with being the oldest Black cemeteries in Washington, D.C., the site includes an antebellum-era vault that served as a refuge for freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad.

Traveling to another part of the country this weekend? Well, there are still a wealth of Juneteenth celebrations to take in.

In New York City, for example, the nonprofit Juneteenth NYC will host the city’s 14th annual Juneteenth NY Festival this weekend, with a number of events planned over the course of three days from Friday to Sunday. 

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Kaleidoscope of Black Culture.” Programs include a virtual summit and two-day festival, held in Brooklyn, which will feature music, dance, poetry, skits, history, vendors and a wide range of family activities. 

The festival is slated to conclude with a parade, concert and fashion show on Sunday. 

In Chicago, Illinois, the city’s Beverly/Morgan Park at 110th and Longwood Avenues will be the site of the 4th annual Juneteenth Family Festival.

The event is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and will feature music, dancing and drumming, as well as hand-made goods by local vendors. 

After the Civil War, many formerly enslaved Americans made their way to Los Angeles, California, for a new life in freedom, and events marking Juneteenth in the city are really too numerous to mention individually. However, a good guide to celebrating Juneteenth can be found here.

Among the most notable of the city’s observances is the Juneteenth Festival held at its historic Leimert Park Village.

The event, which is being held Monday between noon and 9 p.m., will feature more than 300 Black-owned businesses, three main stages, two DJ stages, a spoken word stage and lots of great food, drinks, music, art and culture, and networking opportunities.

Then, of course, there’s the Global Celebration of Freedom concert which will take place Monday at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles with performances by Miguel, Kirk Franklin, SWV, Davido, Coi Leray and Jodeci. 

And how could one talk about Juneteenth without mentioning the Philadelphia Juneteenth Parade and Festival, which bills itself as the “largest” Juneteenth celebration in the nation.

The upcoming celebration on Sunday includes a parade as well as a marketplace and art festival at the city’s historic Malcolm X Park, where hundreds of vendors are expected to set up shop. A concert is also scheduled to take place there in the evening, featuring hip-hop artists like Lil Mo, DJ Cupid and Fatman Scoop.

Though celebrated in Black communities for decades, Juneteenth became a federal holiday only last year. It commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, that Major General Gordon Granger effectively declared the last vestiges of slavery in the United States to be history.

What happened is this: though President Abraham Lincoln had declared the slaves freed in the Emancipation Proclamation, a document which went into effect on Jan. 1, 1863, the declaration was ignored by the rebelling Confederate States, who no longer considered Lincoln their president or Washington their center of power.

As Union victories mounted and spread throughout the floundering Confederacy, it was up to Union soldiers and their commanders to spread the word that the once enslaved were now free men, women and children.

But as a result of how the Union Army was moving across the country, from east to west, slaves in large swaths of the westernmost Confederacy didn’t learn of their freedom until much later.

In Texas that word came after Granger marched more than 2,000 Union troops into the city of Galveston and formally released the more than 250,000 slaves in the state by executive decree.

It was the free slaves of Galveston who first began celebrating Juneteenth as the day their lives were forever transformed.

According to the Galveston Historical Foundation, the earliest documented Juneteenth celebration took place in Galveston, Texas, in 1866. 

Communities around Galveston began to observe Juneteenth as a kind of second Independence Day, with family gatherings and prayer, and over time former slaves across Texas began holding larger celebrations.

This weekend events around the city of Galveston will include the Emancipation Gospel Celebration hosted by the Juneteenth Legacy Project, a nonprofit organization based in Galveston, on Friday night.

On Saturday, the city will play host to the Galveston Juneteenth Festival and Juneteenth Parade and Picnic, and on Monday it will hold its 44th annual reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

A+
a-
  • Emancipation
  • Juneteenth
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Civil Rights

    June 11, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Federal Judge Tosses Florida Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida law banning gender-affirming health care for transgender minors and restricting access to care for some... Read More

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida law banning gender-affirming health care for transgender minors and restricting access to care for some transgender adults is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. The law, which was signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May of last year, barred doctors... Read More

    The Rev. James Lawson Jr., Civil Rights Leader Who Preached Nonviolent Protest, Dies at 95

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Rev. James Lawson Jr., an apostle of nonviolent protest who schooled activists to withstand brutal... Read More

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Rev. James Lawson Jr., an apostle of nonviolent protest who schooled activists to withstand brutal reactions from white authorities as the Civil Rights Movement gained traction, has died, his family said Monday. He was 95. His family said Lawson died on... Read More

    A New Account Rekindles Allegations Trump Disrespected Black People on 'The Apprentice'

    Gene Folkes had just been jettisoned as a contestant on “The Apprentice” and was commiserating with a crew member at a bar... Read More

    Gene Folkes had just been jettisoned as a contestant on “The Apprentice” and was commiserating with a crew member at a bar inside the lobby of Trump Tower. He was indignant — and not just at having been kicked off the reality show after its star, Donald Trump, had... Read More

    May 31, 2024
    by Tom Ramstack
    DC Police Prepare for Terrorism During Pride Month in June

    WASHINGTON — District of Columbia police are preparing for a potential terrorist attack in June during Pride Month after an... Read More

    WASHINGTON — District of Columbia police are preparing for a potential terrorist attack in June during Pride Month after an FBI warning last week. “Foreign terrorist organizations or supporters may seek to exploit increased gatherings associated with the upcoming June 2024 Pride Month,” a joint FBI... Read More

    May 22, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Senators Say State Abortion Ban Causing Exodus of Women’s Health Care Providers

    WASHINGTON — A trio of Democratic senators assailed abortion bans in Republican-led states on Tuesday, pointing to a new report... Read More

    WASHINGTON — A trio of Democratic senators assailed abortion bans in Republican-led states on Tuesday, pointing to a new report that suggests those laws are forcing women’s health care providers to turn away patients, shut down practices and abandon those states altogether for fear of prosecution... Read More

    70 Years Ago, School Integration was a Dream Many Believed Could Actually Happen. It Hasn't.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Seventy years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled separating children in schools by race was... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Seventy years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled separating children in schools by race was unconstitutional. On paper, that decision — the fabled Brown v. Board of Education, taught in most every American classroom — still stands. But for decades, American schools... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top