Today is Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of formal slavery in Texas. Black Americans were still enslaved in Texas until June 19, 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, and more than one month following the end of the Civil War.
Colloquially known as “The Black 4th of July,” Juneteenth marks the beginning of an African American journey to carve a new place in society for free people to shape identities independent of racial caricature, eradicate “slave culture, promote ethnic pride, and create economic prosperity. The Juneteenth Festival is not only a celebration of emancipation and commemoration of a distinctive past, but an opportunity for future generations to learn about our history.
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department’s George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center in collaboration with Six Square, Greater East Austin Youth Association, Jump On it, District 1 City Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, and the Austin Public Library will host Stay Black and Live: A Virtual Juneteenth Celebration.
This year’s Juneteenth Committee, with the support of 10,000 Fearless First Responders, will distribute 600 BBQ plates to communities most impacted by COVID-19. Food distribution will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Carver Museum parking lot behind Kealing Middle School.
District 1 City Council Member, Natasha Harper-Madison, will kick off the event with a special message to the Austin community. This year’s festival will be hosted by NOOK Turner, founder of Jump On It, an organization dedicated to uniting youth and their families through live entertainment since 1997. Performances from an array of musicians and poets will be streamed “tiny desk style”.
An online raffle and auction will be hosted by Six Square’s interim Executive Director, Pamela Benson Owens, with a portion of the proceeds going to support Greater East Austin Youth Association (G.E.A.Y.A.) who has been organizing the City’s annual Juneteenth festivities for decades. In addition to live performances, youth can participate in an online scavenger hunt and learn more about the history of this holiday.
When: Friday, June 19th
Time: 6–10 p.m.