During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863. Due to its isolated geography, Texas was not a battleground and attracted planters and other slaveholders migrating from eastern states to escape the fighting. Many brought their slaves with them, increasing by the thousands the number of slaves in the state at the end of the Civil War. These slaves were not affected by the Emancipation Proclamation unless they escaped.
Juneteenth or Freedom Day is a historically significant celebration in Texas. 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.
Central Texas Juneteenth
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 16, 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.
To continue the day’s festivities, 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 Juneteenth Pageant
The 2018 Miss Juneteenth Austin Pageant, benefiting the Greater East Austin Youth Association, will be held on Saturday, June 9 at Huston-Tillotson University. Attendees are invited to an elaborate ceremony. Beginning with the Miss Juneteenth Pageant at 5 p.m., the audience will witness a fun-filled production presenting this year’s contestants. Centered around “Year of Formation,” the show will focus on accepting inner strength, welcoming power of sisterhood, unity and embracing the pride of Greater East Austin. Immediately following the pageant, there will be a Queen’s Mixer to formally welcome the 2018 Royal Court. The queens will meet and mingle with guests while enjoying food, great music, photos and more. Guests are asked to arrive to the King-Seabrook Chapel at least 30 minutes prior to show time to take pictures on the red carpet and grab their seats. Dress atire is semi-formal or Afro-chic.
Carver Museum’s Juneteenth Celebration
The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center invites the community to join in the festivities Saturday, June 16 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, character interpretations and more.
Juneteenth Rhythm and Ribs Festival
The Voice Inc. and the City of Round Rock Parks and Recreation Department are joining forces again for the 10th annual Round Rock Juneteenth Rhythm and Ribs Festival in the evening ofFriday, June 15, and a full day of entertainment on Saturday, June 16. This is a free event at the Lakeview Pavilion in Old Settlers Park Lakeview Pavilion for the entire family and only $5 to park. Parking fees go right back into the Juneteenth event to keep the event open for all. Sponsored by 95.9 RnB Austin Radio, the festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 15, with an opening ceremony at 7:45 p.m., featuring international headliner Doug E. Fresh at 10:30 p.m. The entertainment on Saturday kicks off at 2:30 p.m. with Probable Cause, followed by The Levites at 5:30 p.m., Don diego at 7:30 p.m. and Next Town Down at 10:30 p.m. There will also be a health fair, moonwalks, clowns, games, food, retail vendors and much, much more.
To get more information about the Juneteenth Festival and to register for the barbeque contest or vendor booths, visit thevoicerr.com.
Juneteenth Health Fest
The Juneteenth Health Festival is purposed to celebrate health, wellness, and liberation in the African American community, the most vulnerable population in Austin/ Travis County. Huston-Tillotson University will be hosting this free and open to the public event on Saturday, June 23 on its East Austin campus. With over 100 attendees since the first event in 2016, the 2018 event is expected to be bigger and better.
The theme for this year’s event is Reproductive Justice, a term coined by reproductive justice which is a concept coined by black women in 1994, and pioneered by Loretta Ross and SisterSong since. SisterSong defines Reproductive Justice as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
There will be panels and sessions, and a wonderful line up of Black/African American health care providers and healers to come out and share their expertise with the community. Free lunch will be provided to the first 100 attendees, catered by Niella Catering.
The BlaQ Mirror Series: Art exhibition and showcase
Join this reflective arts showcase Thursday, June 7 from 6:30 to 9:30 for an evening of drinks, light bites, vibrant music, and visual gallery by some of Austin’s talented BlaQueer and Trans identifying artists. To open up the Austin Black Pride 2018 Celebratory Weekend – Austin Black Pride is debuting its newest initiative The BlaQ Mirror Series is a visual gallery and melodic showcase. The BlaQ Mirror Series is a reflective series which explores the role intersectionality plays in the work of black queer artists.
Exhibiting artists include music and spoken word artists. The exhibiting artist will also grace the stages to reflect on their culturally rich visual collections. This event is free and open to the public of all ages. Refreshments will be provided. Alcoholic beverages are available for a suggested donation ($5 Donation – 1 drink; $8 Donation – 2 drinks; $12 Donation – 3 drinks). The drink menu includes JuiceLand’s Fun Punch and Kale Cumber, as well as non-alcoholic teas, sodas and water. Event sponsors are the Cultural Arts Division, Juiceland and The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce.
First Annual Juneteenth Baller Bash
Join this East Memorial High School event on Saturday, June 16 from 1 – 6 p.m. to keep the historical Juneteenth celebration alive in our community. This event will be a platform for local minority/small business owners in and around the Austin area, with hopes to bring the community together through the love of basketball.
There will be a 3 on 3 tournament, three-point contest and old school versus new school. Food and local entertainment will be provided. Please contact event planner at (512)-769-6350 if interested in sponsoring this event.