As celebrations abound, theGrio highlights five events to commemorate the holiday.
Sunday marks the second year Juneteenth is recognized as a federal holiday. It commemorates the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the freedom of African Americans. It was the last place where Black people were enslaved despite the Civil War having ended more than two months before.
While Juneteenth was celebrated within Black communities for decades, many artists and organizations are pulling out all the stops this year. People will be able to enjoy a variety of media and entertainment outlets to celebrate the national holiday. TheGrio is highlighting five such events.
“I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me” – New York City
As part of Lincoln Center’s annual free outdoor concert series, Summer for the City, Carl Hancock Rux directed and curated ” I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me: A Juneteenth Celebration.” This musical celebration illuminates the narratives of enslaved people seeking and finding freedom. It will feature a commissioned Gordon Chambers song performed by Nona Hendryx with Étienne Lashley and The Collective.
The program also features performances of original music composed by Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid and Hendryx, with lyrics from Tony Award nominee Lynn Nottage. Patrice Johnson Chevannes will sing a deconstructed national anthem, remixing Francis Scott Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner” and James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice.”
Juneteenth Unityfest – Brooklyn, New York
Six-time Grammy Award-nominated musician Robert Randolph founded the Juneteenth Unityfest. His eponymous nonprofit foundation created the festival as a multicultural experience that unites communities. The second annual event will take place throughout numerous Brooklyn locations.
Beginning at 2 p.m., a block party will commence in Greenpoint under the K Bridge, featuring DJ Spinna and performances by Josh Milan, Soul Summit Music, and Descendants of Sound. At 7:30 p.m., a concert at the Lena Horne Bandshell will be part of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series. Performers will include Tye Tribbett, Deborah Cox, Mali Music, and Randolph.
World Channel Highlights 19 Films to Watch for Juneteenth
Multiplatform public media channel WORLD is curating a list of 19 films available all month for viewers in honor of Juneteenth. Numerous documentaries and episodes featuring Black heroes and American heroes of African descent are being made available. The curated playlist comes from filmmakers like Stanley Nelson, Ken Burns, Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster, Sam Pollard, and Yoruba Richen.
Among the 19 films are Nelson’s “Two Dollars and a Dream,” “Fannie Lou Hamer’s America,” Burns’ “Muhammad Ali,” and six episodes of the docuseries “Eyes on the Prize.” The films can be viewed on WORLD Channel, WorldChannel.org, WORLD Channel’s YouTube channel, and Facebook page. They can also be streamed on PBS Passport and the PBS app.
CW Special – “The Black Pack: Excellence”
The CW Network is bringing back the Black Pack, the multitalented threesome of singer/songwriters Ne-Yo and Eric Bellinger, and actor/singer Taye Diggs. The three host the television variety special, The Black Pack: Excellence, celebrating Juneteenth.
An homage to the Rat Pack, the dignified entertainment collective of the 1950s, Ne-Yo, Bellinger, and Diggs thrill a live audience with formal dress, live music, and a sophisticated environment. They previously hosted a CW special for Christmas 2021, and on June 19, they celebrate Black excellence and Black unsung heroes.
“Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth” – New York City
Celebrate Juneteenth in Time Square with a free concert, “Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth.” As part of the Broadway League’s “Black to Broadway” initiative, the 90-minute performance at Duffy Square will feature Black entertainers and allies performing selections from Broadway shows.
Hosted by Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart, the concert will feature performances from members of “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical,” “Paradise Square,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” and more. Tony Award winner and “MJ, the Musical” lead Myles Frost will be a special guest.
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