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A Virtual Juneteenth Celebration

Ava Yu
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2019 Juneteenth

Juanita McGrew, Toya Wallace and Jasmine Loftin volunteered at the 2019 Juneteenth Celebration at Emancipation Park. This year, celebrations will take place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Pooja Salhotra) 

Juneteenth – June 19th - is a holiday commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Typically, Emancipation Park in Houston hosts a festival to celebrate; this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 148th annual Juneteenth festival has become a virtual experience.

#WEAREJUNETEENTH is a national campaign celebrating Juneteenth and how it is linked to the African-American experience. Emancipation Park’s theme for this year’s Juneteenth is focused on the rich history and culture of African Americans, with a focus on highlighting Houston historical figure and former slave, Reverend Jack Yates. Yates played a significant role in organizing funding for the land that is Emancipation Park today. It is the oldest park in Houston and one of the oldest in Texas. In 1872, Richard Allen, Richard Brock, Yates and Elias Dibble bought the park for $800. In the Jim Crow era, it was the only public park available to African Americans.

WEAREJUNETEENTH has hosted a variety of online events throughout June featuring and discussing topics ranging from art history to nutrition to recycling. 

Here are some events taking place on the 19th: 

Juneteenth Vibes with DJ Flash Gordon Parks
7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
Experience a Juneteenth jam with DJ Flash Gordon to wrap up Juneteenth. Read more and register for the event here.

We Are One Celebration
2-5 p.m.
This event will feature DJ Chilly Bill Smith and kicks off Juneteenth with some good music and tributes. 

Good Cookin’ For The Soul
6-7 p.m.
Houston Black Restaurant Week will prepare some traditional Juneteenth dishes. Read more and register for the event here

“Now more than ever, it’s important that we create spaces for people of all backgrounds to gain a deeper understanding of the African American experience in America and the many contributions we’ve made. We hope these events serve as a source of inspiration, education and emotional healing for people around the world,” Ramon Manning, Board Chairman for Emancipation Park Conservancy said in a statement.

In addition to Emancipation Park’s events, Rice University is honoring the holiday with a new, annual lecture series on June 19. This year’s event will be held via Zoom from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Learn more here.  

Editor’s note: To learn more about Juneteenth, see our story about last year’s celebration here. Read more about Emancipation Park and the history of Third Ward here.

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