Juneteenth is now a federal holiday! Short for “June Nineteenth”, the holiday of Juneteenth is seen as a day of freedom that many African-Americans observe. The holiday originated in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to mark the day when federal troops arrived in the state to ensure that all enslaved people were freed. Unfortunately this federal attendance occurred 2.5 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Nationally, Juneteenth honors the end of slavery and it is seen as the longest running African-American holiday. Across the U.S. many are celebrating Juneteenth in various ways. Some host in-home get-togethers, cookouts, special worship services, festivals and more to commemorate our acts of freedom.
In Annapolis, MD Mrs. Phyliss Tee Adams is hosting the first-ever Juneteenth Festival. Historically, Annapolis served as a port of entry for slaves and other cargo along the Chesapeake Bay. “This historic time marks our country’s second Independence Day. Our theme of the festival is Honoring our Past and Celebrating our Future,” says Mrs. Adams. “It is a day to honor our ancestors for their fight for freedom while educating our diverse community as we celebrate legacies and accomplishments that will be forever ingrained in history,” she continues.
This year’s event will not only include a festival but rather a weekend long celebration. On Friday, June 18, 2021 there will be a VIP Awards Reception to honor Unsung Heroes between the ages of 13-80.
On Saturday, the festivities will kick-off with a parade that will begin at the Annapolis Dock at the Kunta Kinte statues. The parade will end at Maryland Hall as guests will proceed to the festival grounds for the community festival.
The festival will include two stages of musical performances and live acts from: MC Vern J, Divaa DaVoice, Jalen Lamkin, Kenny Starkes, Tiffany Camille, Therron Fowler with The Baltimore Urban Inspirational Choir, Divine of Annapolis, Carronne Jones D.I.V.A.S. Soul Revival Tour, Craig Dobson & Friends, Parris Lane, Chelsey Green, Kindred The Family Soul, the Chuck Brown Band, Young Dylan, Expressions Dance Group, Chardelle Moore and more.
North Charleston, SC is the home of the Lowcountry Juneteenth Week from June 14-19, 2021. The weeklong celebration was founded by Latisha Manigault and Cedric Smalls in an effort to bring awareness of the Juneteenth holiday.
The main concert festival will be held on June 19th at the Jenkins Institute venue. Grammy Award Nominated artists Tony! Toni! Tone! And Raheem DeVaughn are headlining the concert festival for this year’s celebration. The “Love King” himself is set to hit the stage to perform all of his famous hits as well as material from his new “Lovesick” album that was released this year. His new “Lovesick” album continues to redefine his art.
With musical influences such as Marvin Gaye, Prince and Tupac it’s no question as to the soulfulness of his artistic depth. “I feel like overtime my music has transcended. You can hear the growth. You can also hear my growth as a vocalist, songwriter and vocal arranger. Hopefully you also hear the poetic depth lyrically,” Raheem states. His music also empowers and evokes change. “I constantly challenge myself to continuously use my gift and art form to make socially conscious music,” he expresses about his music bringing social action.
Raheem DeVaughn embodies the commemoration of the Juneteenth holiday as well as many others. “Juneteenth is a celebration and also a reminder to the world of what we have been through due to our adversity, endurance and perseverance. I’m into celebrating us, myself and Black women day in and day out,” he continues.
He hopes to spread good vibes at this year’s Lowcountry Juneteenth Festival with his catalogue of over 9 albums and hits. This celebration is definitely one that you don’t want to miss.
Sophia Strother of Waco, Texas is also celebrating Juneteenth with her annual Juneteenth Family Fun Day. This Saturday festival goers will enjoy fun, activities, community resources and more. The musical performances will include the soulful sounds of Montell Jordan and James Fortunate, just to name a few.
The festive atmosphere will allow citizens the opportunity to celebrate African-American heritage and independence. Touching over 32,000 people since its conception in June 2011, this event also benefits domestic violence awareness, sexual abuse survivors and at-risk youth. Join in the fun at the Brazos Park East in Waco, Texas.
Without a doubt, Juneteenth celebrations will be one to remember this year. Not only does the holiday celebrate African-American independence, but it is likely the first outing of many that most have experienced since the start of the pandemic.
However you choose to honor this monumental occasion please do it respectfully and in honor of our ancestors who faced unforeseen challenges, hardships and turmoil to allow for our current commemoration.