The month of June brings about the celebration of Juneteenth, the annual mid-month holiday that recognizes the emancipation of African Americans. The celebration officially began in Texas in 1866 and was just made an official federal holiday by President Joe Biden in 2021.
“As a holiday, Juneteenth is significant because it marks a great step forward in the United States towards becoming a true democracy, ending slavery, and extending the right to vote to a larger segment of the American people and more,” Deirdre Cross, Assistant Director for Public Programs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, says.
There are multiple local Juneteenth events to come together to celebrate, dance and enjoy. Some additional events include baseball games, Black business panels and pop-up shops.
“I was very glad the holiday has now been recognized as a federal holiday. More people have learned about it and the history behind it. Knowing our history is a vital part of life, and I encourage everyone to look beyond what they teach in schools.” says Ampazzeona Warren, a local resident and student in the DMV area.
Clarence “Pint” Isreal Juneteenth Classic:
Bethesda Big Train, a summer collegiate baseball organization, will host its second annual Clarence “Pint’ Isreal Juneteenth Classic on June 19 at Shirley Povich Field in Cabin John Regional Park. The event will honor the late Clarence Isreal, a famous African American baseball player in the 1940s. “So, we have tried to be more than just a summer college baseball team. We have tried to be very active in the community over the 24 years we have existed. We tried to model the tradition of the church and a big lunch and ballgame,” says Bruce Adams, a former councilman and founder/president of Big Train.
Big Train is partnering with the Scotland Juneteenth Festival. In addition to the game, there will be a carnival, movie premiers, and a race to commemorate the freedom of African American slaves.
In discussing the origin of Juneteenth, Adams explains how he viewed it, “It is a beautiful thing that happened because of a horrible thing and ended because of a good thing. You wouldn’t have had to have the Negro Leagues or the McHenry black sandlots if it hadn’t been for Jim Crow.” To learn more information about the upcoming event or purchase tickets visit bigtrain.org.
Annapolis Juneteenth Festival:
An Annapolis Juneteenth Celebration flyer. Photo courtesy of Annapolis Facebook page
In Annapolis, Maryland, there will be the second annual Annapolis Juneteenth Festival celebration. It is a three-day event in which there will be a gala, a festival and a parade. “The mission of the Annapolis Juneteenth Celebration is to commemorate the emancipation of the last enslaved Africans in the United States. Today, we celebrate the freedom and continued legacy of resistance, empowerment and community building,” the Annapolis Juneteenth Celebration committee writes on the website. All admission is free, and there is a required payment for parking and local vendors. There will be headliners featuring Avery*Sunshine, Koryn Hawthorne, Pastor Mike Jr., Beverly Crawford, the Chuck Brown Band, and a fireworks display following the show!
Cheverly Juneteenth Celebration:
A Juneteenth celebration flyer. Photo Courtesy of CAACO Instagram page
Looking for amazing food, shopping experience and entertainment? Well, the Cheverly Juneteenth Celebration is the place to enjoy with family and friends. The event is hosted by the Civic African American Community Organization (CAACO) and the Town of Cheverly, Maryland.
According to CAACO’s Instagram page, “Our primary purpose is to unify the African American community in all segments of life within various communities. We want to activate, engage, educate and empower, to present a strong concerted effort in meeting situational awareness particular to our community.” The event will take place on June 17 and starts at noon. There will be live performances and basketball tournaments to keep you busy!
Group of Black Americans celebrating Juneteenth. Photo Courtesy of revelsdc.org
The Washington Revels have been preserving and empowering the lives of Black Americans nationwide for the past 35 years. Its annual Juneteenth celebration includes singing, dancing, readings and sharing knowledge.
According to the website, “Washington Revels is dedicated to reviving, sustaining, expanding and celebrating cultural traditions – music, dance, storytelling and drama – that bind people together in spirit and joy.”
The organization welcomes everyone from all backgrounds and ages to join them in celebrating African American history year around. Annual events include Christmas Revels at Lisner Auditorium, May Revels, Community Sings, Pub Sings and more for you and your family! “I’m excited to put on my colors and show my pride and teach other people on the topic. One of my teachers is hosting an event this summer, and I will have the opportunity to teach others about it. People should support black-owned businesses all around but definitely on Juneteenth, as I will be doing the same,” says Warren.
In The End:
Honestly, the celebration of the freedom of African American slaves in the United States is something all families should partake in. It represents resilience, honor and unity. If you find yourself free during the month of June, do something to honor the millions of Black lives lost to a dark history that lingers in modern-day society. “All of these efforts are an education tool. I mean, I didn’t even know what Juneteenth was 20 years ago, and there are people today that don’t know what you can teach. So, we are hoping that will change,” says Adams.