Honoring Black History on Juneteenth
This Saturday is Juneteenth, a holiday dedicated to the end of slavery in the United States, celebrated by African Americans since the end of the 19th century.
The holiday commemorates the moment on June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to educate African-American slaves of their freedom, said Michelle Commander, associate director and curator of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. (News of the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t get there until more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln released it.)
âJune is a time to celebrate, but it’s also a time to mourn,â said Dr. Commander. âBecause we see many ways in which the racism that underwent slavery reverberates in our contemporary society. “
Although Juneteenth was initially seen primarily in Texas, it has spread to African American communities across the country. Last year, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York City signed an executive order making it a public holiday for state employees, and companies are starting to honor it as a paid day off.
The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s drew special attention to it, said Dr Commander – “In the middle of this moment, they were still thinking about what independence means” – but the party took on a bigger dimension. importance last year, as Protests against police violence and structural racism swept across the country.
Observances have varied over the years and continue to evolve. As Gina Cherelus said last year in The Times:
For some, it’s about eating a barbecue, shooting fireworks, gathering around a barbecue and sipping red drinks, a tradition that symbolizes perseverance and honors the spilled blood of African Americans. . For others, it’s about shopping only at black-owned businesses, sharing history, or resting at home.
Indeed, Juneteenth-related events taking place in the city run the gamut. If you’re not yet ready for an in-person celebration, the Schomburg Center will close its annual literary festival on Saturday with a day of virtual readings and discussions exploring the meaning of freedom, featuring prominent black authors including Clint Smith and Kiese. Laymon.
Also on Saturday, the African Burial Ground National Monument, which sits atop the remains of an estimated 15,000 African-American slaves and freemen in the city, will broadcast a ceremony in honor of those buried there, followed by a discussion of the importance of Juneteenth.
In Brooklyn, after going virtual last year, the Juneteenth NY Festival will return to eastern New York with an in-person and family-friendly festival. On Saturdays, you can expect food, games, and live entertainment from local bands.
Experience Harlem runs a âshop and sipâ to support black-owned businesses. If you make a purchase at one of the participating stores, you’ll get a ticket for a free cocktail to redeem at a restaurant.
If you’re the type to get moving, the Keith Institute is hosting a Solidarity 5K in June that runs from Highbridge Park in Washington Heights to Morningside Park. (Looking for something a little less active? They follow up with a concert and a âdance in the parkâ barbecue.)
If you are more of a biker, the Good Company Bike Club will be hosting their second annual Freedom Ride. Organizers promise a “quiet ride” that starts with music on the steps of the Brooklyn Museum, travels to Coney Island, then returns to Fort Greene Park, with a stop at at least one black-owned bar on the way to the return.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island will host a day of celebration that will include a re-enactment of General Granger’s Order Reading and a Harlem Renaissance-themed fashion show.
Finally, if you’d like to join in the festivities from home on Thursday, The Times is hosting a virtual event featuring musicians Questlove and Esperanza Spalding, and others, as part of our Black History series, Suite. RSVP here.
A few more ideas
Free fun: Explore Manhattan’s Chinatown with a scavenger hunt – as part of the Meet Us in Chinatown event on Thursday. (For the less competitive, there will also be tai chi, music, and other activities.)
Alone ? : The Tenement Museum has just reopened and offers a new walking tour that explores black history in the city, particularly the Lower East Side. Grab a bite to eat at Essex Market afterward.
A romantic date: Soak up the culture with the City Opera’s Pride in the Park show in Bryant Park on Friday night.
In Queens: After canceling last year due to the pandemic, the Queens Night Market is returning to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. You’ll need a ticket to get in, but vendors serve food from all over the world, and everything costs around $ 5, so arrive hungry.
Family fun: Put on an aquatic-themed outfit on Saturday and head to the Hunts Point Fish Parade and Summer Festival in the Bronx, where you can celebrate local performers.
Early voting? We have what you need: There is a primary election for mayor on Tuesday, but early voting runs until Sunday. So if you tweet your early voting site on Julia or me, we will try to find you an activity nearby.
What do you want to hear from us this summer? Are there any events or places we should know about? Send us a message at [email protected]