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 2017 program, scheduled for Saturday, June 17, 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 2017 Miss & Little Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant will be held on Saturday, June 10 at Huston-Tillotson University (900 Chicon St.). A pageant vendor and mixer fair will take place at Student Union Building from 4 – 6 p.m., followed by the scholarship pageant from 6 – 7 p.m. The pageant underscores growing healthy self-value in area youth, recognizing individuality and achievement while promoting and educating others about Texas African American history. Guests will be serenaded by the sounds of Tree G music and Noella Grey. Food, drink and deserts will be provided by Miss Juneteenth’s official sponsor, Chandelier Catering.
Green and Clean Neighborhood Project
The Juneteenth Green and Clean Neighborhood Project will bring families together on June 10, 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.
Travis County Juneteenth Celebration
The 27th annual Travis County Juneteenth celebration will be held Friday, June 16. An indoor ceremony will start at 10 a.m., at 700 Lavaca St., first floor. This will be followed by an outdoor celebration with food and activities on the underside of the parking garage on the northeast corner of 8th Street and Lavaca Street.
If you are interested in making a donation to the Travis County Juneteenth Celebration please write a check out to the Travis County Employee Enrichment Fund with “Juneteenth Celebration” noted in the memo of the check. Please mail all checks to Judge Eckhardt’s Office at 700 Lavaca Street, Suite 2.300, Austin, TX 78701.
Carver Museum’s Juneteenth Celebration
The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center invites the community to join in the festivities Saturday, June 17, 2017 from noon- 4:00 p.m. at 1165 Angelina Street. African American/African Diaspora food vendors, artists and artisan-quality craftspeople will participate in the Juneteenth Marketplace. The Carver’s Juneteenth Celebration also features a family-friendly environment with live music on two stages, crafts and activities for kids, food and more.
Carver Branch Library Juneteenth
Outreach Librarians, Carver Library and HEB present their Juneteenth celebration, “Community Connection,” on Saturday, June 17, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Austin Public Library George Washington Carver Branch.
Neighboring the Carver Celebration, Outreach Productions will host its annual Juneteenth Celebration at the Washington Carver Library on Saturday, June 17 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. It will be a fun filled day for youth of all ages and all families. The schedule includes visual art presented by students of Bertha Sadler Means Art at 10 a.m.; an opening ceremony in honor of Marian E. Barnes at 11:30 a.m.; free Refreshments at noon;Puppet show: The Borreguita and the Coyote by Verna Aardema at 1 p.m.; arts and crafts at 2 p.m.; and a dance session at 3 p.m.
Juneteenth Music Festival
The fourth annual Juneteenth Music Festival is Saturday, June 17, 6-10 p.m. at Austin ISD’s Performing Arts Center at 1500 Barbara Jordan Blvd. Sponsored by the Reagan High School Soul Raider Marching Band, event performances include the Reagan High School Cheerleaders, Austin All Star Band, A Train Drumline, Black and Gold Dancers and more. The music line-up features a variety of blues, funk, soul and New Orleans jazz. Featured artists this year are CJ Edwards and The Funk Fellowship.
Austin History Center Juneteenth Presentation
On Tuesday, June 20, LaToya Devezin, African American Community Archivist at the Austin History Center, will present on the history of Juneteenth and African Americans in Travis County. This free and open to the public event will be held at the Heritage House Museum in Pluggerville, 901 Old Austin Hutto Rd. Refreshments will be served.
Juneteenth Health Fest
The Juneteenth Health Fest is a community based event, free and open to the public that focuses on African American health and wellness. Huston-Tillotson University will be hosting this event on its East Austin campus. The 2016 first-ever health fest was a great success thanks to community members participation and support as well as the support of community organizations. This year, the event will be held on Saturday, June 24. A line-up of Black/African American health care providers and healers will come out and share their expertise with the community in this free and open event.
There will be several 30 minute health workshops taking place, facilitated by African American health professionals in both western and traditional medicine fields. There will also be health screenings for blood pressure and glucose courtesy the Quality of Life Unit of Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services.
Juneteenth Rhythm and Ribs Festival
The Voice Inc. and the City of Round Rock Parks and Recreation Department are joining forces again for the 9th annual free Round Rock Juneteenth Rhythm and Ribs Festival on Friday, June 16, 7:30 – 11:30 p.m. and a full day of entertainment from Saturday, June 17, 2 p.m. to midnight, at the Lakeview Pavilion in Old Settlers Park Lakeview Pavilion. Admission and parking for this event are free.
The festivities kick off Friday with Cupid and the Dance Party Express back by popular demand! The celebration continues Saturday with a barbecue cook-off, followed by music entertainment, a health fair, moonwalks, clowns, games, food, retail vendors and more. To get more information about the Juneteenth Festival and to register for the barbecue contest or vendor booths, visit thevoicerr.com.