Many Black substitute Juneteenth for July 4th celebrations
Some 75 years after The Declaration of Independence was signed on June 4, 1776, Abolitionist Frederick Douglass pointed out the irony of the words that were sealed while Blacks remained slaves until 1863
It’s not his holiday, Douglass said during a speech in Rochester, NY on July 5, 1852 to commemorate the signing of the July 4th document. The former slave turned statesman spoke to approximately 500 abolitionists who paid 12 cents each to hear Douglass as the keynote speaker during the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society gathering. At the end of his speech, Douglass remarks were endorsed by the group.
Juneteenth or Freedom Day
It was June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved African Americans were told they were free, more than a year (Jan. 1, 1863) after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into federal law. More than 3 million enslaved persons were informed of the news in Texas and reports were that celebrations that were led by prayer, dancing, feasting and fasting.
Known as Juneteenth, many communities choose that day to celebrate freedom from slavery. In 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a holiday and many states and local governments nationwide followed suit.
Historic Juneteenth celebrations in downtown Punta Gorda, Florida in 1910. Unknown source for photograph
In Punta Gorda, Florida, the traditional Juneteenth celebration actually takes place on May 20, 2021. This year, the quaint south Florida city did not hold a celebration due to the health pandemic, yet it captured various history clips through its museum and a rousing video that includes great information in other Florida communities.
There are hundreds of Juneteeth celebrations across the nation and outside of its borders. Here’s a brief listing of Juneteenth events in the U.S. during June 2021, beginning with celebrations in this blogger’s hometown, Omaha, Nebraska:
- Omaha Freedom Festival, Noon to midnight, Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, 3448 Evans St. Socially distanced outdoor event will feature activities and refreshments.
- Concert at 7 p.m. with rap artists Juvenile headlining, along with artists Michel’Le, Enjoli & Timeless, and Keeshea Pratt.
- Max capacity is 1,500 due to COVID. The Festival will follow safety protocols as recommended by the Douglas County Health Department, the CDC and the City of Omaha.
- The Omaha Freedom Festival Concert is brought to the community by Quality Clinical Research, The Blues Society of Omaha and Union Pacific.
In Springfield, Missouri:
In metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia:
In Huntsville, Alabama:
For more about Juneteenth celebtaions near and far, consult local newspapers, historical societies, libraries, museums, the federal government’s sites and locations such as the Park Service and National Archives.