Washington, D.C. celebrates Emancipation Day on April 16, which marks the anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862. Our country also recognizes January 1, 1863 as the day President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official. In Texas, however, there is a more historically significant date known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day. It was on June 19, 1865, when official news of freedom were brought to Galveston by Major General Gordon Granger:
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” read General Order Number 3. “This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”
The importance of Juneteenth continues to be celebrated to this day and there are plenty of community events happening in Austin for all to join in the festivities.
The Greater East Austin Youth Association, a non-profit organization that provides structured sports activities for economically disadvantaged youth, organizes the Central Texas Juneteenth celebration every year. The 2016 program, scheduled for Saturday, June 18, features a day full of fun for everyone.
The 2K Emancipation Run/Walk begins at 9:30 a.m. with participants starting at Comal St. and MLK Blvd. The community is invited to join families, friends, neighbors, organizations and businesses to raise awareness about the increasing prevalence of health disparities within the African-American community.
One of the annual highlights of Central Texas observations is the traditional Juneteenth Historical Parade at 10 a.m. along Comal St. and MLK Blvd. Known as a beautiful, vibrant experience, the annual parade is the signature event of the celebration with floats, marching bands, dancers, cowboys, horses, classic cars, candy and more of what the community has to offer.
To end the day’s festivities on a high note, the community comes together for an all-day Juneteenth Park Celebration at Rosewood Park (2300 Rosewood Ave.) with food vendors, exhibits, and live music from gospel to Hip-Hop to R&B, with a children’s area. For more information on the Greater East Austin Youth Association’s program, go to juneteenthcentraltexas.com.
Miss & Little Miss Juneteenth Pageant
The 2016 Miss & Little Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant will be held on June 4, at 6 p.m. at the A.I.S.D. Performing Arts Center (1500 Barbara Jordan Blvd.). The pageant underscores growing healthy self-value in area youth, recognizing individuality and achievement while promoting and educating others about Texas African American history. Special guests Miss United Nations Sherrie Gerhart and Olympic runner Bill Rogers will present the 2nd Annual Community Impact Award on behalf of the Greater East Austin Youth Association, one of the first black- established charitable organizations in Austin. Tickets are available for purchase online.
Green and Clean Neighborhood Project
The Juneteenth Green and Clean Neighborhood Project will bring families together on June 11, from 7–9 a.m., with volunteers gathering at 13th St. and Chicon before starting their effort to pick up litter and waste from the surrounding area.
National Black MBA Association Chapter’s Gala
The National Black MBA Association Chapter presents its 10th Anniversary Awards and Scholarship Gala on Thursday, June 16 at One World Theatre (7701 Bee Cave Road). Themed “VIS10N: Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future,” the chapter celebrates 10 years of positively impacting the community through various charitable, educational and professional development acts.
Many local trailblazers and organizations have paved the way for the creation of educational opportunities and economic growth for African Americans and this year their contribution is honored through this event.
The keynote speaker will be multi-industry leader Mel Parker. Guests to be honored at the gala include Robert F. Smith from Vista Equity Partners, Marilyn Johnson from the International Women’s Forum, and Deone Wilhite from the Travis County Commissioner’s Office.
In addition to helping celebrate the National Black MBA Association Chapter’s past, sponsorships and ticket purchases will support the next generation through their Leaders of Tomorrow mentorship program, specifically their tech immersion and college readiness programs, scholarships and life skills development.
Tickets are available for purchase online, which include valet parking, an open bar, music by DJ A/C and a four-course meal and fine wine samples. End the night with a serenade by Austin’s own Tameca Jones and her four-piece band.
Carver Museum’s Juneteenth Celebration
The Carver Museum and Cultural Center is celebrating Juneteenth on Saturday, June 18 from 12-4 p.m. at 1165 Angelina Street. The Carver’s Juneteenth Celebration will feature a family-friendly environment with live music, crafts and activities for kids, food, a marketplace with vendors and more.
To top off the celebration, the Carver Museum will showcase a Tribute to Nina Simone–an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist who worked in a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop. Earning the title “High Priestess of Soul,” Nina Simone is an icon of American music and one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century.
Carver Branch Library Juneteenth
Outreach Librarians, Carver Library and HEB present their Juneteenth celebration, “Community Connection,” on Saturday, June 18, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at Austin Public Library George Washington Carver Branch.
The event begins with a community greet and meet in honor of Marian E. Barnes, followed by a puppet show, “A Cool Ride in the Sky,” based on a book by Diane Wolkstein, DJ Mahealani, a summer reading journal collage with collage artist, and a performance by the Abundant Life Dance Troupe.
Art is Cool
On this Juneteenth, come experience a visual gallery featuring the work of seven dynamic artists whose work continues to reflect the rich heritage of the African American experience. On Saturday, June 18, mingle with artists and enjoy some of the traditional foods of Juneteenth including local favorites such as Franklin Barbecue and Niella Catering LLC. The event will be held from 6-10 p.m. at the Historic Dedrick Hamilton House on 912 East 11th Street.
Juneteenth Music Festival
The third annual Juneteenth Music Festival is Saturday, June 18, 6-10p.m. at Austin ISD’s Performing Arts Center at 1500 Barbara Jordan Blvd. The music line-up includes a variety of blues, funk, soul and New Orleans jazz. Featured artists this year include Jackie Venson and WAMM Nation Drumline.
Juneteenth Health Fest
The Juneteenth Health Fest is a community based event, free and open to the public that focuses on African American Health & Wellness. On Friday, June 17, screenings, health workshops and demonstrations will be facilitated by African American healthcare practitioners and community healers at 5 p.m. at the Greater Austin Black Chamber (912 E. 11th Street). This event is in partnership with the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department with support and resources provided by various community organizations and collaborators. Registration begins on June 1.
In the Shadow of the Dome: Slave Life in Austin, Texas
The Austin History Center invites you to “In the Shadow of the Dome: Slave Life in Austin, Texas” on Tuesday, June 21, 6:30 p.m. at Austin History Center. Andres and Juanita Tijerina, currently at work on an upcoming book by the same title, will speak about slave life and emancipation in Austin, as evidenced in the Travis County Slave Narratives that were recorded in the 1930s. This program will augment the upcoming Juneteenth celebrations and serve to increase our understanding of the historical roots of this celebration. The program is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served.
The program is a two-part presentation on the slave narratives of Austin and Travis County, Texas. Some of the narratives appear in other publications, but most have never been published. The first part of the presentation is a review of the 1937 WPA project to interview Americans as part of the New Deal administration. It explores the influence of the interviewer, the typescript, and the interviewee on the accuracy of the historical narrative. The second part of the presentation is a reading of selected narratives to demonstrate the nuances of the interviewer’s interpretation and the diversity of persons interviewed. The conclusion reviews the history of the African-American freedmen of Travis County.