On June 19, 1865 -- two-and-a-half years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and two months after General Robert E. Lee's surrender -- Major General Gordon Granger's Union troops landed at Galveston, Texas, to announce that slaves were finally free. Since then, Juneteenth ("June" plus "nineteenth") has been celebrated in Texas, where it was named a state holiday in 1980, and increasingly across the country. Memphis' 13th-annual Juneteenth Freedom and Heritage Festival will take place this weekend at Douglass Park.
There will be more than 60 musical acts, activities for the kids, several educational presentations, and more. Friday will be dedicated to kids and seniors. Saturday will feature performances by Lacee, J. Blackfoot (pictured), and others. Sunday will include a Father's Day tribute, along with music by Katrina evacuees the New Orleans Jazz Ramblers and former American Idol contestant Equoia.
This year's theme is "... but by the content of their character: A Salute to the Civil Rights Movement." The festival will honor local and national civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, and others.
Glynn Reed is the founder and executive producer of the local Juneteenth celebration. "We are a cultural event," she says, "but we're also educational in terms of black culture."
Juneteenth Freedom and Heritage Festival, Friday-Sunday, June 16th-18th, Douglass Park. For more information, go to juneteenthmemphis.org.